The Mayor of Casterbridge Historical Context

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Victorian England

The Victorian age began in 1837, when eighteen-year-old Queen Victoria ascended to the British throne, and ended with her death in 1901. Victoria and her husband, Albert, set the tone of English life and culture for most of a century. It was a time of social and moral conservatism; the "family values" of the time were similar to those touted in late-twentieth-century America. Pragmatism was valued above romance, duty above pleasure.

Beneath the veneer of gentility and commitment to duty and family, the Victorian age, like every era, had its dark side. Prostitution flourished, and lurid crime stories—both true and fictional—were popular. Hordes of small children living by their wits on the streets of London and other cities were a testament to the limits of the commitment to family. The wife-selling incident that is at the center of The Mayor of Casterbridge is a...

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This section contains 542 words
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