12 Apr 2022


Classism in England during the Victorian Era

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Academic level: College

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Despite societal discrimination and mushrooming industrial competitors during the Victorian era, Britain persisted that it was the world's superpower. The Victorian era which lasted between 1837 and 1901 came with numerous changes in social classes. There were three distinct classes; working class, middle class, and the elite class. Each of these classes exhibited specific character traits, which defined its conduct. During the industrial revolution period, great societal as well as economic and political changes occurred in Britain (Dickens, 1854). People sought to improve their lives and this made them look for employment in industries with children and women making a higher percentage of the casual workers working under poor conditions.

The working class during the Victorian era consisted of those who worked in the agricultural sector, domestic workers, and factory workers. Others worked in mining, building, transportation, fishing, and garment industry. The working class received wage that were only able to sustain them and a case of illness or being fired landed them in poverty. This implies that more family members had to get an income so as to fully sustain them. Manual labor was very demanding and men who were highly paid were those at their twenties since they were considered to be at the peak of their physical fitness (Dickens, 1854). Their earnings decreased as they got older. Married men worked with their wives to earn extra cash for few non-basic items. Children helped their parents and few were able to attend school. 

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The middle class people increased in size and their importance was highly rated during the Victorian period. The middle class comprised of all people who were above the working class and below the elite class. Such people included industrialists, clerks, and rich bankers. Although clerks earned much less than what others in the middle class earned, they were considered middle class because of their source of income rather than the amount of their earnings. The professionals who were in the middle class had the highest social status. They were mostly referred to as the upper middle class (Dickens, 1854). The people who were counted in this class were the highly ranked people in medicine and law, clergymen, military officers, architectures, civil engineers, and university professors among others. These were the people who mainly lived in urban areas and their children went to boarding schools and even managed to study to the university level. 

Other upper middle class people were those who achieved success as a result of the emergence of industrial revolution. The revolution helped them afford to educate their children. The lower middle class on the other hand consisted of shopkeepers, who needed to be literate without necessarily having higher education. Children of this social class studied until the age of fourteen and finally worked in the family shop or other relevant occupation. 

The elite class was mainly the hereditary land-owning class. This was composed of the gentry and aristocrats. The eldest son of the aristocrats inherited land with the title and was expecting to be an influential member in the society. Younger sons of aristocrats joined professions in the military, church, or administration (Dickens, 1854). This social class earned a lot of money from their lands and would put aside some for their daughters and sons. Most of their time was spent in parliament though the landed gentry stayed more in their estates and promotes charities 

Classism came with many problems that mostly affected the poor people. The royal family had a lot of children and people were under pressure to give birth. People died from starvation as they could not afford the cost of health care and lived in poor conditions, which exposed them to infections (Dickens, 1854). Child labor was also experienced as many families had to have their children work so that they could get food. Children worked in mines, factories and other dangerous places where they could easily get hurt and even die. 

In conclusion, the Victorian era came with many changes in the society. People belonged to certain class depending on their source and amount of income. The working class was the least paid from casual jobs while the middle and elite class earned better salary from doing skilled jobs or inheriting. The working class was the most disadvantaged and they felt most problems associated with classism. 


Dickens, C. (1854). Hard Times. London: Bradbury and Evans publishers

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 17). Classism in England during the Victorian Era.


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