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This is on marriage in the Victorian era. To what extent is it Catholic? Can someone give it a Catholic critique?

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In the Victorian era, marriage was not as romanticized or fairytale-like as depicted in many novels of the time. On the contrary, love actually played a very minor role in the majority of matrimonies that took place. An engagement was entered into as one would approach a business deal, and there were some generally accepted rules and guidelines to follow.

The Rules

It was illegal to marry your deceased wife’s sister. You could marry first cousins, but attitudes changed towards the end of the 19th century, and this became frowned upon.
Victorians were encouraged to marry within the same class (remember the views on social mobility!). They could marry up, but to marry down meant marrying beneath yourself (Soames).
A woman entering into the institute of marriage had to be equipped with a dowry. The husband-to-be had to prove that he could support his new bride in the lifestyle she was accustomed to.
An unmarried woman could inherit money and property after she reached the age of 21, but once married, all control would revert to her husband. A woman could not have a will for her own personal possessions; since the control was in her husband’s power, he could distribute her property in any way he likes, even to his illegitimate children (if he has any).
Women married because they had a lack of options; they were not formerly educated, and were only instructed in domestic duties. They needed someone to support them, and were encouraged to marry and have children ("The Rules of Marriage").
The Courtship

Marriage was a carefully contemplated subject for a woman; since she would lose control over any possessions once married, it was not something entered into lightly, and a woman was not required to accept her first proposal.
The financial aspects of both families were discussed openly. They can be compared to today’s prenuptial agreements. A woman’s father was responsible for retaining a “jointure” for his daughter; this was a provision in the event that she might outlive her husband, so that she was taken care of monetarily.
After the business aspects were secured, the engagement followed. The husband presented his fiancée with a ring; the woman could give her fiancé a ring as well, but it was not required. The woman’s mother was responsible for throwing an engagement dinner for the couple.
Engagements lasted anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. After it was “official,” the couple was permitted to be more intimate: they could hold hands in public, take walks together, take private carriage rides (but the carriage had to be open), and even spend time alone behind closed doors, as long as they were properly separated by nightfall.
Any failure to follow these rules of conduct meant a ruined reputation for the woman; the engagement would most likely be called off and she would spend the rest of her life as a spinster. An honorable man would typically marry her anyway, but then again, an honorable man would not become engaged to a woman who would disobey societal rules. An example of a Victorian Wedding Certificate.
Wedding Etiquette

After the wedding, it was customary to send cards indicating when the couple was to be “called upon” by their friends and family. When calling on a couple, it was important to be punctual; never arrive before or after your appointed hour. Wedding cake and wine was served and the guests could bestow wishes of health and happiness on the couple.
When receiving guests, the bride was never to be alone. Even if her husband was present, it was expected that her mother, sister, or close friend was with her to receive visitors. “To do otherwise is to disregard the usages of society” (Wells).
Views on Divorce

Divorce was difficult to obtain; the only acceptable reason for divorce was adultery, and even then it was only a valid reason for a man. Women could use adultery as an excuse to divorce her husband, but she also had to supplement it with a reason proving her husband “engaged in incest, bigamy, or excessive cruelty” (Marriage and Divorce).
Though this was a double standard, the reason for it was this: men were viewed to “take care” of their wives, and thought that their fidelity should not matter; women on the other hand, if caught cheating, were seen as disrespecting the “care” of their husbands.
Laws were modified in the mid-19th century to make divorce more accessible to both men and women, but it was still scarce. Women saw marriage as a way to gain independence from their families and to start a new life, even though their husbands were granted all of the power.
Divorce was extremely expensive; it entailed the loss of wealth and property. Since it accumulated from generation to generation and helped to strengthen the family line, divorce was neither economically or socially practical. It would guarantee the family losing some of its strength and influence by giving up property and wealth.
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Many people believe that marriage is important in this day and age, but it holds little significance compared to the importance of marriage in the Victorian era. In the Victorian era women were to get married to a man of the same or a better social status, be good wives, and be a mother to her husband's children. Very few marriages started with love, but a woman's life is not complete without being married. Over time, the role of married women has evolved a great deal and they now have rights and privileges. John Stuart Mill was one of the great thinkers of the Victorian era, and his essay The Subjection of Women tells how few privileges women had and that they were slaves to their husbands. He also says that women are their own people and should be free. This was an uncommon view for a man of this time to have. Mill provided a much-needed reality check for the ethical treatment of women, and also generated ideas for the women's rights movement which was quite uncommon for a man to do in this period. His essay On Liberty promotes how important it is to have the complete freedom to state one's opinion. Had someone else been as brave as Mill before the Victorian era the women's movement may be further advanced today than it is.

The Victorian era was a time of tremendous change in the lives of British people. Victoria became the Queen of England in 1837 at the age of eighteen. During her reign, Britain became the most powerful country in the world, as it had the largest empire that had ever existed. Victoria was ruling more than a quarter of the world's total population (Moore). Despite the fact that a woman was in power in Britain, the women of Britain had very little authority, dignity or rights when it came to marriage or owning property. Actually, Queen Victoria was opposed to any woman's movement saying:


I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights', with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to 'unsex' themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection (Moore).

There are many different reasons why women got married in the Victorian era. First and foremost was due to the lack of education. Women were usually uneducated or were taught only basic responsibilities. If a woman had too much education, Victorians thought that it would weaken their womb and deform their bodies (Moore). From early childhood, girls were taught that they should get married and have children when they get older (Hamilton). The little education that women got was received mostly at home. There were some boarding schools, but there was no university for women to attend. The studies that a girl would learn were French, drawing, dancing, music, and how to use globes. If the boarding school was interested in teaching any practical skills, girls would learn plain sewing as well as embroidery, and accounts. Through knowledge and education a woman could have had a better sense of self-worth and pride. On the contrary, boys were well educated at home by a tutor until they were old enough to attend public school. Their studies were concentrated towards classics - languages and literature of Ancient Greece and Rome. Once a boy finished school, he would usually attend either Oxford or Cambridge University. Here he might also study mathematics, law, philosophy, and modern history. In fact it was not until 1947 that women were admitted to Cambridge University as equal members to men (Moore).

Another reason that women of the Victorian era got married was for financial support. A proper lady was not expected to work - a woman would only work if she was of a lower class because they had little or no choice but to do so. Due to their lack of education, women had no work skills and were required to find a husband to support them. Mill believed in complete individual freedom regarding thought, speech, and discussion. He would agree that women should be able to choose if they want to work or not, no matter what social class they are from and that women should not have to be a dependant of her husband for support.

By the time a girl reached the age of eighteen getting married was a priority in her life. The prime age for marriage for the upper class women was between eighteen and twenty-three (Martin, 32). An unmarried woman could inherit money and property after the age of twenty-one, but upon marriage, the control of a woman's money and any property was given to her husband. Since she now owned little of value she was not allowed to have a legal will for her personal possessions (Alfson, 106). As Mill states in The Subjection of Women "the legal subordination of one sex to the other--is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other" (Mill, 1086). Men and women should be equal in terms of marriage benefits, respect, opportunities, and social standing.

For a man, although it was still important, marriage was not as crucial as it was for women. For a man, a good woman must have three main attributes: religion, industry and chastity (Hamilton).

Marriage being the destination appointed by society for women, the prospect they are brought up to, and the object which it is intended should be sought by all of them, except those who are too little attractive to be chosen by any man as his companion; one might have supposed that everything would have been done to make this condition as eligible to them as possible, that they might have no cause to regret being denied the option of any other (Mill, Chapter 2).

Religion was important to the Victorians because traditionalism was highly encouraged. Also, people who were religious were perceived as being more credible than those who were less religious in society. Mill contests this theory in his essay On Liberty when he says that religious association, or the lack of one, should have no part in a person's ability to know what is best for all society. Mill also points to nonreligious men with perfect morals as proof that religious association does not necessarily mean honesty or loyalty. Honesty is a quality that is in a person's character not because they are of a certain faith (Ebenstein, 62). Industry was important because a good wife was to be a hard worker at home and raise the family while the man brought home the finances. Chastity was essential for a woman because a lady should be pure for her husband, and also ties into the religious beliefs of not having an intimate relationship with anyone until after they are married (Clark, 153).

When choosing a potential wife or husband for marriage there was a strong code of etiquette that was taken into account. This code decided who was and was not allowed to marry based primarily on physical features. What seems to be impractical or shallow according to today's standards was taken very seriously in the Victorian Era; physical beauty was used to ensure that a couple was a good match. The rules were designed to create a couple that would balance each other out, such as a tall man being paired with a shorter woman because they would become an average couple. Similar rules applied to features such as hair and character. The relationship between a man and a woman progressed in stages. The first stage was clearly for the couple to meet and speak to each other. Only after a mutual attraction was established could the couple begin to keep company with each other. The next step was that they gradually made themselves seen together, but only in supervised public situations. After an appropriate amount of time had passed, if the man wished to propose marriage, he asked the lady first. If she accepted, he would then go to her parents for their permission as well. A lady did not have to accept the man's proposal immediately; she could consider the offer and then either accept or decline. There were many rules of conduct in certain situations when courting, a few of which are: in a stage of courtship, the couple always walked apart from each other. Contact was only allowed when the man would offer her his hand over rough areas while walking. Another example is that intelligence or interest in politics was not encouraged for women and single women never addressed a gentleman without being properly introduced (Alfson, 120). These situations would have angered Mill because they indicate that women were not encouraged to be involved with intelligence nor are they to be straight forward with a man, a lady should be passive and submissive.

Mill was a courageous man to speak his mind about his opinion of women, in On Liberty Mill discusses his political and personal beliefs about freedom and liberty, not just for women but for everyone. He stresses the importance of being free, because what is the point of life if we cannot be totally free, or how free are we if we cannot say what we truly think without being persecuted. Truth needs to be free to be known. At the time that Mill wrote this essay England was the most liberated but at the same time the least liberated country in the world (Ebenstein, 45). Mill would have also wanted an improvement for the freedom of women in society. The essay On Liberty ties in quite well with The Subjection of Women because in order for women to have equality in relationships they need respect and freedom from society to do as they please.

A woman who travelled was a major concern in the Victorian era. A woman was to travel with her husband or her family and never alone, since to travel alone was considered immoral. Travelling was extremely expensive so usually only the very wealthy did so. Wealthy women very rarely travelled alone, but when they did it was to escape the control of her husband. Even worse than travelling alone was for a married woman to travel with a group of friends, as this was completely intolerable and unheard of (Moore). It was disapproved of for a woman to travel because according to men and society, a woman's place was in the home and she had no need to see the world beyond her own town. Even what women wore prevented them from travelling far because their clothing was restricting. Women wore high-heeled boots, corsets, heavy dresses, and crinolines (Moore). Mill would have agreed that women should be at liberty to move around the country wherever and whenever they wish to do so, it was wrong for anyone to be incarcerated in their own town or home.

The wedding ceremony between a Victorian couple was different than it is now. Their wedding and marriage customs were filled with superstition and tradition, some of which are still performed today. The vows that a Victorian bride said included the line "to obey her husband" - today most women have that section of the vows eliminated, since this declared the woman as a slave to her husband rather than a companion to him. Also, the final announcement of the couple being pronounced "man and wife" has been replaced today with "I now pronounce you husband and wife." This slight change makes both man and woman equal (Hamilton). A tradition that did carry over is the 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a lucky sixpence in your shoe' custom. The month of June was the most popular month for a wedding. The month is named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage, and she provided prosperity to anyone who married in her month. Few women wore white to their wedding ceremony because it was considered to be the color for the poor, however, in 1940 Queen Victoria wore a white gown and began the trend (Hoppe). The wedding rings were usually solid plain gold bands with the couple's initials and the wedding date engraved on the inside. It was considered to be good luck if the ring were to drop to the floor during the ceremony because this ensured that all evil spirits were also dropped out (Hoppe). Once the marriage ceremony was complete the wife had officially forfeited her rights and freedom. John Mill was an exceptional husband and he had tremendous respect for his wife and he treated her as an intellectual equal. He even gave her whatever he was writing for her assessment and opinion (Ebenstein, 34).

During the Victorian era women began to demand a higher formal education and much deserved respect from society. Women had much to overcome since they were not just hindered by the men of their society but they also did not even have the respect of the Queen, who is someone who had the authority to do anything she pleased, including giving more opportunities to women. John Stuart Mill was one of the brave men of the Victorian era who was an advocate for the women's movement of equal rights. He made his voice heard and did not back down just to conform to his current society's norms. John Stuart Mill was a great supporter of women's rights and more people should have agreed with his beliefs rather then with society.
john stuart mill was  the high priest of liberalism - he did more to destroy british indeed western society society than anyone.
  like bentham, wells he belived in free love.who cares abt responsibilities, do what you like as long as it feels good, so in UK we have the highest teenage pregnancies, highest divorces, near highest abortions in europe.
so the victorian families knew something after all. These women were extraordinary, wonderful people  - in first world war as they saw their husbands, fathers , brothers, sons killed in the trenches they said nothing but went on with their lives.
mill destroyed all that.

This looks like a college essay. Take it with a grain of salt. I don't think women were quite as restricted in Victorian times as the essay suggests, but somehow, they were more restricted than in the Georgian period.

Also, marriage "for love" became far more widespread in the Victorian period than in previous eras, thanks partially due to Romanticism. Even before the 1800's, though, romantic marriage was common enough for the peasant classes. Political and arranged marriages were more a part of upper class life.
What do you think of the victorian etiquette compared to Catholic teaching?
tl;dr

Also, why does it matter? We're Catholics, not Victorian Anglicans.
HERE HERE!!! Pray