Governesses and Schooling


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It was deemed socially unacceptable for upper class parents to raise their children without assistance. Many affluent families hired governesses to oversee the education and other teachings of the children. Music and art were highly regarded at the time, as well as learning French and how to dance. Governesses sometimes also taught their children practical skills, such as sewing. The Bennets fit this category of affluent. When Elizabeth tells Lady Catherine that they had no governess she is appalled, "‘No governess! How was that possible? Five daughters brought up at ho me without a governess! – I never heard of such a thing. Your mother must have been quite a slave to your education.’” (161). Unlike girls, who for the m ost part remained at home, the sons of wealthier families often attended public schools when they were old enough. This discrimination is apparent in the novel through the fact that none of the Bennets' five daughters attended school, even Mary, who appears to be very intelligent and well-read. Poor families were also usually excluded from this. However, by the end of the Victorian Era, school became much more widespread for anyone under 12.

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external image Graf_in_Church_thumb.jpgAs far as musical talents were concerned, girls were expected to be taught how to play at least the piano among various other instruments. During this time, society expected women to entertain guests by performing and showcasing such talent. Women who could play many instruments were regarded very highly as this was seen as a sign of nobility. Only the children of the rich were able to afford a well-rounded education and the ability to play beautiful music served as the perfect illustration of a quality education. The pressure to get married at a young age was apparent throughout the Victorian Era, thus women and men alike attempted to make themselves most appealing to the opposite sex. One way in which they could do this was to master some musical instrument.



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Women of the era were also expected to be proficient in the visual arts. Drawing was looked upon as a necessary skill for a woman to posses in order to be considered worthy of marriage. For a woman to excel in drawing or painting showcased her abilities and characterized her as gentle, creative, and nimble. A woman's ability to draw or paint, coupled with her musical talents, served to be primary talents deemed desirable by men in potential wives. The power to produce quality art often caused a woman to be viewed as more attractive than others, as a great emphasis was placed on artistic ability, especially for women. Many women of the era attempted to improve themselves so as to be more worthy of marriage than their counterparts. The arts played a large role during the Victorian Era and thus they were stressed through education.

Works Cited


"An Introduction." Victorian England. 28 Oct 2007 <http://www.english.uwosh.edu/roth/VictorianEngland.htm>.

"Victorian England: An Introduction." Victorian England: An Introduction. 28 Oct 2007 <http://www.english.uwosh.edu/roth/VictorianEngland.htm>.

"Victorian Schools." The Victorians. Nettlesworth Primary School. 28 Oct 2007 <http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/vschool.html>.

Cones, Kristina. "Girlhood." Women's Issues Then & Now. 02/May/2002. University of Texas. 28 Oct 2007
<http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/girlhood.shtml>.