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Has women’s place in society changed from Elizabethan and Victorian Eras?

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To understand the context, Elizabethan era was from 1558 to 1603 and Victorian Era was from 1837 to 1901. It is interesting to note that in 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed in UK allowing women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification to vote.

Women in Elizabethan and victorian era were weaker sex

Comparison on who was allowed schooling

During Elizabethan Era, 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.

Elizabethan women look
Elizabethan women look


Victorian woman look
Victorian woman


Victorian women also typically stayed 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 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

Elizabethan women typically learnt 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 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 Elizabethan era. Single women sometimes were looked down upon as witches or at least with suspicion. Woman was considered complete with man.

Marriages could be at a very young age of 12 with parental consent followed by bearing children. Mortality rate was high.

Tradition of dowry also existed. Note that in some countries, this evil tradition still exists.

In general all women in Elizabethan times bought up inferior to men and that they were expected to obey any male member of family, to which the punishment for disobedience was the whipping stool.

Victorian women were also treated 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.

Comparison summary

If we have to summarise, even though separated by 300 years, in both Elizabethan and Victorian era, women were not treated equal to men.

Things somewhat started changing during 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 Elizabethan era and 100+ years after Victorian era, you can associate all above evils with many societies in the world even today.

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