A majority of the time of the 18th and some years of the 19th century in the history of England is called the Georgian Era. It has been named after the King George-I, II, III and IV who were the rulers of England between 1714 to 1830.
After the death of King George IV, his brother William IV took the throne as there was no legitimate son of King George IV who could take the throne after him. However, his reign lasted for a short period of seven years and after him, Queen Victoria became the ruler of the United Kingdom. This marks the beginning of the Victorian Era in the history of the country.
Life in the Georgian Era
The Georgian Era stretches over a very long period of time and acts as the period that brought modernity to the English society. The social life of people before the Georgian Era was deplorable and during this time, efforts were made to improve it. One of the greatest steps in this direction that were taken during this time is the birth of the Industrial Revolution that was promoted by the growth of technology.
However, all these developments were slow and took a lot of time to start affecting the lives of people at a social level. When these events were unfolding on a bigger level, the people of the society were still marred by the wide social gap. The upper classes continued to dominate the lower classes and the minority middle class was acting as a bridge between them.
During the Georgian Era, the crime rate in the country was a major problem. There were no proper prisons or even regulations to punish the criminals. It was public execution, flogging and deportation to America that were the punishments given most of the time to offenders. Some criminals, like highwaymen, enjoyed the status of celebrities and songs were composed to celebrate their heroism.
Another problem of this time was that of drugs and liquor. ‘Madam Geneva’ and ‘Laudanum’ were the products that were becoming an addiction for the people of the upper and lower classes similarly.
Madam Geneva or Gin was cheap alcohol that was affordable to everyone and people consumed it in large quantities to drown the miseries of their lives. Laudanum was an opium based drug that was sold openly at pharmacies and given to patients as painkillers. Many people were known to have developed an addiction to it during this time.
In spite of all this, the lives of people were improving at a very slow pace during the Georgian Era. The cities were becoming planned to accommodate the increasing population. Improvements in agriculture techniques were resulting in the elimination of food shortage and advances in medical sciences was increasing the life of people.
The raging wars were also providing an opportunity to many people to improve their lives and trade with colonies like India was bringing a lot of wealth in the country, which was being spent on beautification and growth.
Comparison with Life in the Victorian Era
When Queen Victoria took the throne in 1837, the social life of the people had already experienced a shift. A transformation was happening in the lifestyle of people and the pace of it was faster than ever.
The middle class had become a part of the social construct and the Industrial Revolution had started to improve the financial and social conditions of the people. Due to the changes that were happening in the social front, the Victorian Era came to be known as the Age of Reform.
One of the greatest developments that simplified the lives of common people during the Georgian Era was the growth of industrialization. This helped people to not only improve their financial condition and social standing but also provided them with a lot of leisure time.
The result of this was that there was an increased emphasis of the production of art and literature, which the people would consume in this new found leisure time.
Literature grew the most as a result of these changes. The novel had already become popular and Charles Dickens emerged as the greatest novelist of the times. he talked about the pathos of common life and was able to engage the upper as well as lower class readers with his complex character design and intricate plot structure.
Apart from this, poetry was also on the rise and the romantic movement was at its best during this era.
On the political front, the problem with the crime rate of the country had been tackled during the Victorian Era. The conditions of prisons had improved dramatically and the methods of punishment had also changed.
In most cases, the offenders were banished from the country and sent to America or Australia. However, the moral standards of the people had also improved which resulted in a drastic decline in the crime rate.