Norwegian Culturein the Victorian EraPhoebe Beitnes
Politics• The right to vote in Norway was mostly limited to thesocial elite (officials, property owners, lease owners).• “University educated civil servants (graduates intheology, law, and medicine)” held the majority ofpolitical power.• The aristocracy of “university educated civil servants”filled most of the important posts in the Norwegiangovernment, controlling the economy.• There wasn‟t a large bourgeoisie (middle class) inNorway “to demand the breakdown of this aristocraticcontrol of the economy”.• Norway was more progressive politically than mostother nations of the time.
Social Classes• Upper Class: Received their money mainly throughinheritance. The upper class was mostly comprised ofnobility and people of the church. Most did not have towork.• Middle Class: Worked the cleaner types of jobs-bankers, shopkeepers, merchants, etc.• Lower Class: Did mostly physical work, doing dirtierjobs than the middle class, such as working asservants or factory workers. Received little to noeducation most of the time.
The Academic Elite• The academic elite was a very exclusive social group.• All university students were men (until 1882). Overhalf of these university students had fathers withacademic occupations (another 25% of universitystudents were the sons of business men, and the other25% was made up of the sons of farmers and workers).• Although it was not compulsory to attend a university,and it would be just as acceptable to be taught athome, many went simply to develop connections inorder to rise higher on the social ladder.
Entertainment• Victorian Norway was very interested in literature, theatre, andthe arts. Operas were widely attended.• Gambling at cards in casinos became wildly popular during theVictorian Era.• Many men took up the study of natural history, studying birds,butterflies, seashells, beetles, and wildflowers.• The Victorian Era was the golden age of the circus. Travellingcircuses drew large amounts of people to their shows.
Courtship• Courting during the Victorian Era usually began at balls andother such dances during which young girls were introduced intosociety during their “coming out”.• The Victorian society dictated several criteria with which to usein finding “the perfect suitor”: “not marrying a person with thesame eye color as yourself, marrying someone that was theopposite of you in physical and mental characteristics, and marrysomeone with straight or thicker hair if your hair is curly orthin”.• The courting couple always had to be chaperoned, had to havepermission to go out in the daytime, “the gentleman could nevercall without permission, and the young lady had to say goodbyeat the parlor door”.
Courtship (continued)• Because the courtship rules were so restrictive, many couplesended up getting to know each other through letters, “as opposedto face-to-face interaction”.• Victorian society was very repressive towards true emotion, socouples often created secret languages consisting of fan, glove,parasol, handkerchief movements in order to communicatenonverbally.• Ladies were often given gifts by their suitors called “love tokens”,such as painted miniatures, flowers, and jewelry. Many timesthese tokens had secret meanings.• When a gentleman decided to propose marriage, he first had toask permission from her father to have her hand. This was whenthe courtship ended and the engagement began.
Marriage• Although a large feminist movement was taking place,a woman‟s place in society was still largely thought tobe at home.• The idea of romantic marriage was made popularduring the Victorian Era, but because of “practicalpolitical circumstances”, marriage was predominantlystill a financial transaction. It was treated as abusiness• Because married women had very little politicalpower, except through their husbands, they wanted tomarry politically powerful men “as opposed to menwith whom they were „in love‟”.
Women’s Rights• In 1854, women were granted the right to inheritproperty. However, “it was not until the 1890‟s thatmarried women gained the right to control their ownwealth”.• Victorian Era Norwegian women mainly expressedthemselves through literature.• AastaHansteen, a passionate feminist writer of thetime, served as a model for one of the characters inHenrik Ibsen‟s The Pillars of Society (1877).• It was between 1879 and 1890 that the first wave offeminism in Norway broke out.
Women’s Rights (continued)• Writers began writing to speak for the cause of thefeminist movement.• Four writers became particularly famous for this.Nicknamed „The Big Four‟, the group of writersincluded Henrik Ibsen, BjørnstjerneBjørnson,Alexander Kielland, and Jonas Lie.• Ibsen‟s book A Doll‟s House (1879) had a very largeinfluence on the feminist movement (even outside ofNorway, as it was translated into several differentlanguages and performed widely across Europe).• Bjørnson‟s play A Glove (1883) had a huge impact onthe Norwegian public
Prostitution• News organizations, clergymen, and others became veryconcerned about prostitution, and labeled it “The Great SocialEvil”.• Many asylums and institutions claimed to want to help these“fallen women” and retrain them to reenter society, teachingthem to work as domestic servants.• Moral reform movements were made in an effort to close downbrothels.• The theme of prostitution soon became a staple feature ofVictorian literature.
Religion and Mythology• Scholars in the Victorian Era “found renewed interest” in the oldNorse mythology. By this time Christianity was so deeply rootedin the Norwegian society that it was no longer so much alegitimate religion as a popularized legend.• Norwegian scholars began studying the Prose Edda and thePoetic Edda and forming various new theories.
Norse Mythology• Norse mythology states that there are nine different worlds, all ofthem connected by a giant treecalled Yggdrasil..However,it mostlyfocuseson theAesir gods,who inhabitAsgard.
Architecture• The architecture styles used during the Victorian Era weremostly interpretations and “eclectic revivals of historical styles”-neoclassicism- mixed with middle eastern and Asian influences.• Gothic Revival architecture became increasingly popular duringthe Victorian Era in Norway, leading to a battle of the stylesbetween the gothic and classical styles of architecture.• Italianate architecture became increasingly popular as well. TheItalianate architecture mirrored the 16th century ItalianRenaissance architecture, with more picturesque aesthetics. TheItalianate style paid homage to the lavish style of the houses ofthe wealthy “Italian merchant princes”.• By the end of the Victorian Era, the medieval Gothic Revivalstyle of architecture was the most popular.
Child Labor• Only about 50% of children between the ages of 5 and 15 inNorway during the Victorian Era did not attend school.• The children of the poor were made to help earn money for theirfamilies, working long hours at dangerous jobs for very low pay.• Many small boys worked as chimney sweeps. Children alsoworked in coal mines, and took on apprenticeships.• Children as young as 4 were put to work.• In the coal mines, children began to work at age 5 in general, andusually died before the age of 25. Most worked 16 hour days.
Quiz• 1. The right to vote in Norway was mostly limited to• A. The lower class• B. The middle class• C. The bourgeoisie• D. The social elite•• 2. The upper class• A. Worked the cleaner types of jobs- bankers, shopkeepers, merchants, etc.• B. Was mostly comprised of the nobility and people from the church• C. Received most of their money from inheritance• D. Both b and c•• 3. It was compulsory to attend a university• A. True• B. False
• 4. No women attended any universities in Norway untilwhat year?• A. 1877• B. 1882• C. 1920• D. 1913•• 5. The academic elite was a very exclusive social group• A. True• B. False
• 6. Operas were wildly unpopular• A. True• B. False•• 7. The Victorian Era was the golden age of• A. The lower class• B. The circus• C. Romantic marriage• D. Movies
• 8. Courtship during the Victorian Era usually began at• A. band c• B. The movie theater• C. Dances/Balls• D. The factory•• 9. The Victorian society had several criteria one wassupposed to use to find the perfect suitor.• A. True• B. False
• 10. The courting couple always had to bechaperoned• A. True• B. False•• 11. The courting couple didn’t have to havepermission to go out in the daytime• A. True• B. False
• 12. Couples often got to know each other through letters instead oftalking face-to-face• A. True• B. False•• 13. Because Victorian society was so repressive towards trueemotion, couples often• A. Ran away• B. Created secret languages consisting offan/glove/parasol/handkerchief movements• C. Exchanged tokens such as flowers/jewelry/ painted miniaturesthat had secret meanings• D. b and c•
• 14. When a gentleman decided to propose marriage, hefirst would ask• a. Her mother• b. Her grandfather• c. Her father• d. Both b and c•• 15. A woman’s place in society was thought to be• a. At home• b. In a factory• c. High up in the government• d. In college
• 16. The idea of romantic marriage was made popularduring the Victorian Era• a. True• b False•• 17. Because women had little political power, exceptthrough their husbands, they wanted to• a. Marry politically powerful men• b. Stay at home forever• c. a and b• d. None of the above•
• 18. In what year did women gain the right to inherit property?• a. 1854• b. 1890• c. 1956• d. 2012•• 19. Who served as a model for one of the characters in Ibsen’s The Pillars ofSociety?• a. Bjornstjerne Bjornson• b. Jonas Lie• c. AastaHansteen• d. a and c•• 20. Some of the architecture styles used during the Victorian Era were• a. Rococo and Neo-palladian• b. Gothic Revival architecture and Italianate
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