AQA English Lit - Theme: Class

Overview of context (A04) and some wider reading quotes (A03) for the theme Class.

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  • Created on: 14-05-13 16:04
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Class within the Victorian Era
The different social classes were distinguished by inequalities in areas such as
power, authority, wealth, working and living conditions, lifestyle, lifespan, religion,
culture and education. They tended to follow a social hierarchical structure, such as
the one below
Upper Class
The upper class tended to have a great deal of money and were the most respected
in society. Many looked up to those in the upper class and took inspiration from them
wanting to be like them, as they were seen as the ideal British society. This class
would often keep maids and servants, hence providing job opportunities for those in
lower classes although the two would not usually communicate on a sociable level in
Middle Class
The middle classes aimed to be more respectable and independent so although they
had no need to earn a great deal of money, they felt duty bound to do so. Many
worked within respectable family businesses, such as shops, millinery and
occasionally school teachers (which was beginning to stereotypically appear as a
women's job)
Lower Class (Working Class)
Lower classes wanted to try and better themselves, they looked towards gentility as
inspiration despite this, many slipped into the underclass. They has less education,
opportunities and gentility than the upper class.
Most jobs within this class are seasonal, which meant a great deal of unemployment
and a continued cycle of poverty. The only work women could obtain within this class,
was an occupational job like a workhouse matron. Even then, to be selected for
these jobs, they had to appear well respected pious and with an unblemished
The working class were often shut out from political processes and this made them
increasingly hostile to both the upper and middle classes.
Under Class

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These were the beggars and prostitutes.
Women in this class were commonly referred to as `fallen' and they were seen as a
precursor to ruin and prostitution. Falleness is caused by seduction, poverty or
degeneracy. There were 8,600 prostitutes known to the police in 1857 but it was
believed that there were nearer 80,000 in total.
The Industrial Revolution began to make people more aware of issues within society,
of which were most commonly seen within the underclasses. These included
drunkenness, addiction and prostitution.…read more



Great notes thanks for posting!

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