Comparison of Victorian era with Elizabethan Era:
The Elizabethan era was during the pan-European Renaissance, which was before the Victorian era.
During the Elizabethan era, prose fiction was non-existent. Fiction meant poetry or drama. It was the Victorians, and the introduction of the printing press, that introduced the novel as a medium. Some differences are as follows:
During the Elizabethan era, it was only the very rich who could afford books. All the literature at the time catered to the upper class since no one else would be buying. When the Victorians came about, the growing power of the middle class, along with improved literacy and the printing press, meant there was a market for middle-class readers.
Most Victorian age novels thus dealt with very middle-class concerns, such as income or status. Some writers, such as Dickens, even dealt with working-class issues like poverty. This is very different from Elizabethan era poetry, which tends to be less down to earth. Shakespeare had ghosts and witches, but you’ll never find that in Austen, Gaskell, Dickens, etc.
Comparison of Victorian era with Elizabethan Era
The Victorians believed that literature had to “instruct” society. It was the purpose of the writer to teach, through stories, the proper way to be a person. The Victorian novel wasn’t as open-ended as Elizabethan poetry or drama; there was a pretty clear message in every story (e.g. all women should be married). Just compare the plot of Emma with Romeo & Juliet; you’ll see what I mean.
Victorians shied away from “supernatural” elements. This was a reaction to Romanticism and the Gothic, which came just before them. They believed that literature should be a clear reflection of the real world, with no magic or vampires or whatnot. As I mentioned before, the Elizabethans had no trouble with fantasy. In stories like Faust, a magician actually summons the devil, and he goes around playing tricks with his newfound powers.
Comparison of the English Language between the Elizabethan and Victorian era
English was spoken in both eras, but we’re more likely to pick up a book that was actually published in the Victorian era and understand it. Many Shakespeare books today will have modern English and the English of the Elizabethan and, early, Stuart Eras.
So when you’re reading one of his plays you may have to read it in its original form then look to the next page to understand it in the modern form. But pick up a Dickens book and you’re more likely to understand what’s written there.
Difference between technology during the Elizabethan and Victorian era
Another difference is lighting. Although electric lighting predates the Victorian Era, it really began to take off in the late Victorian era. Though still a novelty at the time of Victoria’s death, it was becoming a little more commonplace in major cities. But you also had gas lights, both in the home and on the street, which were commonplace.
Oil lamps were well used, with kerosene oil leading to a decline in whale oil, as were candles. And of course fires in fireplaces or as torches. In the Elizabethan era, you were limited to three kinds of lighting sources, candles, fires, and oil lamps.
Both eras had their pollution, but in the Elizabethan era, the pollution would have been more on the ground and in the water. The Victorian Era happened during the industrial age, thus you had smokestacks belching out smoke from the fires that ran the steam engines in the factories, trains, and ships and boats. Smog was something Dickens mentioned in his books, which gives us an idea what the quality of the air was like.
Comparison of roles of Elizabethan and Victorian women in society
Why should we know that even today?
To understand the context, the Elizabethan era was from 1558 to 1603 and the Victorian Era was from 1837 to 1901. It is interesting to note that in 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed in the UK allowing women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification to vote.
The difference in who was allowed schooling?
During the Elizabethan Era, the education of women depended on which class they belonged to. The women from rich and noble families were sometimes permitted to undergo education. Education was normally at home due to lack of girl’s schools.
Victorian women also typically stayed d at home. Education Acts in 1870 and 1878 required compulsory education for girls, it did not help much. Working class girl was educated in domestic skills, while some middle-class girls got a more formal education. It was still believed that girls do not need advanced skills since their eventual role would be to take care of a family.
What did women learn during these two eras?
Elizabethan women typically learned languages which included Latin, Italian, Greek and French. Music and dance skills were also taught. Higher level university education was a strict “no-no” regardless of economic status.
‘Common’ women did not get any formal education and the main focus was learning domestic chores.
Victorian women were typically taught singing, piano playing, and sewing. Skills learn were in line with their domestic role.
Other social aspects for women
Getting married was considered very important for a woman during the Elizabethan era. Single women sometimes were looked down upon as witches or at least with suspicion. A woman was considered complete with a man.
Marriages could be at a very young age of 12 with parental consent followed by bearing children. Mortality rate was high.
The tradition of dowry also existed. Note that in some countries, this evil tradition still exists.
In general, all women in Elizabethan times were bought up inferior to men and that they were expected to obey any male member of the family, to which the punishment for disobedience was the whipping stool.
Victorian women were also treated as inferior to men and were deprived of education. They were also expected to focus on bringing up children.
Victorian women were not allowed to open their own bank accounts or conclude contracts without permission from their husband or father.
Elizabethan vs. Victorian: Comparison summary
If we have to summarise, even though separated by 300 years, in both Elizabethan and Victorian era, women were not treated equally to men.
Things somewhat started changing during the Victorian era’s industrial revolution when industries demanded manpower. It further changed during the world wars.
It is such a pity that even though its 450+ years since the Elizabethan era and 100+ years after the Victorian era, you can associate all above evils with many societies in the world even today.