806 8067 22 From Ancient Greece, they adopted parts of Stoic philosophy. The top hat with its tall round crown and curled side brim was the only hat a Victorian gentleman needed. If you put all these influences in a pot, and mix them together, what you come up with is the tenets of the Victorian honor code or what Bertram Wyatt-Brown terms “Stoic-Christian honor,” and what Victorians often used interchangeably with “respectability.” The expanding democratic spirit had inspired a code based on merit over birth, and each of the other influences imparted several qualities to the standards that comprised this new honor code. We shall leave you with a piece from a Victorian poet, Robert Nicoll, that couldn’t better sum up his contemporaries’ views of honor: “I ask not for his lineage, As previously mentioned, for centuries people largely accepted being a member of the class they were born into, and there was almost no chance of moving up into a higher class – a commoner couldn’t work his way into the aristocracy no matter how hard he tried. Many felt that during England’s Regency era (roughly 1795 to 1837), the upper classes had grown decadent, reveling in flamboyance and dandyism, and focusing too much attention on appearance and clothes. Dr Jekyll is a well-respected and intelligent scientist. Upper class; Profession. Victorian era, the period between about 1820 and 1914, corresponding roughly to the period of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837–1901) and characterized by a class-based society, a growing number of people able to vote, a growing state and economy, and Britain’s status as the most powerful empire in the world. The most distinguished of the middle class were clergymen, military officers, lawyers, doctors, and the professors and headmasters of prestigious schools. He is presented as a typical gentleman who have authority in the Victorian society. If manliness be in his heart, Thus, with those very basic needs taken care of, Victorian society turned to a higher aspiration for their honor code: progress – both moral and material. At the start of the Victorian era (1830s-1900), English society was highly stratified and hierarchical, and the population fell into three main classes. It was used by some more as a stick of judgment with which to swat others, than a personal yardstick for one’s own behavior. Daily Life in Victorian England by Sally Mitchell While the Victorian honor code provided a universal set of standards that could cross geographic boundaries and class lines, and also help men navigate impersonal relationships, the growth of rootless crowds and lonely anonymity spurred men to create smaller honor groups that could replicate the camaraderie and brotherhood of the past. Part III: The Victorian Era and the Development of the Stoic-Christian Code of Honor When Victoria died in 1901, the pace and texture of life had dramatically transformed. Her reputation would be ruined and her gentleman companion would find himself the object of gossip, and most usually derision. She carries a parasol. The rising business class turned that idea on its head — arguing that idleness was a vice, while work was a nearly sacred virtue. By 1900, under the influence of the political, economic, and social changes of the Victorian era, the word had acquired a variety of usages and meanings which fully reflected the complexity of English society. The Victorian honor code addressed these concerns by making adherence to the rules of manners and etiquette part of the standard of respectability. The reputation you earned in one place could follow you wherever you went. Expanding Democracy. The Victorian honor code created a more universal code that helped unify the classes. Right below the peerage was the gentry. A slip in morality or the breaking of decorum could bring public shame, and ostracization from social and professional circles. Reputation reputation was very important to Victorian gentleman reputation can be linked with morality and how people portray themselves in public compared to private immoral activities would damage a gentleman's reputation and they would lose social advantages and status Reputation and Social Perfection: the Social Creation of Mr. Hyde The Victorian era was famed for its outstanding morals and social customs, and was often seen as being a period of peace and perfection for England. Nostalgia for the idealized chivalry of medieval knights inspired respect for women, while adherence to ancient Stoic philosophy put a premium on self-sufficiency, self-control, and unflappable reserve – the famous British “stiff upper lip.” Most of all, the Victorian code of honor emphasized the virtues connected with economic success – those that could help working and middle class men rise in the world: initiative, pluck, ingenuity, independence and personal responsibility (going into debt was shameful), ambition, thrift, punctuality, orderliness, cleanliness, patience, dependability, and most of all hard work. The evangelical movement stressed the importance of morality, particularly chastity, piety, and charity for others. Telegraphs carried messages in a blink, railroad tracks criss-crossed the land, and luxurious steamships fairly whisked passengers from England to America in only nine days. At the same time, evangelical Protestants preached that a continued relationship with God was predicated on living righteously, and that believers should strive for an individual moral perfection, while also working to purify society, reform corrupt practices, and uplift the downtrodden. But while physical and cultural boundaries were eroding, class distinctions remained. The Victorians simply picked up what the Renaissance thinkers had begun in championing the importance of sincerity — it wasn’t enough to simply act like a good man, you had to actually be a good man deep down. A Victorian man needed to get in touch with his conscience more than his predecessors, because increased geographic mobility and travel meant that, unlike his primal brethren, he had a good chance of finding himself outside his honor group and among strangers – or with no supervision at all. The coming of the railroads collapsed distances and made travel cheaper, and national newspapers and popular entertainments eroded distinct regional customs. This struggle between competing ideas of manly honor is vividly illuminated against the backdrop of the diverging societies and values of the American North and South. The Victorian era seems to be a time of many contradictions and secrets from the rest of society. The shift from agriculture to industry opened the possibility (no matter how long the odds were in reality) of social mobility, or what the English called “removable inequality.” High status in society could be earned, but only if a man cultivated the skills and character traits necessary to rise in an industrial economy. New or radical ideas were also unaccepted as Victorians feared the unknown. Nostalgia. Manufacturers, merchants, and bankers were some of the newer members of the middle class (more on this below), and as white-collar work expanded, the new journalists, police officers, and insurance agents joined the ranks as well. The Victorian Age is considered to be the Heyday of the gentlemanly ideal, both in society and in literature. The aristocracy, a centuries-old honor group that had ever been hostile to incursions from outsiders, vehemently fought against the relinquishing of their position. But during the Victorian Era, those in the middle class pushed back against the idea that the right to vote and to hold government office were reserved for the owners of major acreage. Now, I originally planned for the history of honor to be one post, and then decided I could cover it in two, and now I’m thinking it’s going to take five posts, counting the one two weeks ago and today’s. Net worth was an abstract consideration in the Victorian era, writes Mitchell. Stoic-Christian honor is still indelibly imprinted on our cultural consciousness for several reasons. Every man needs a hat. Cities bred anonymity – gone were the face-to-face interactions between kin that were essential to the enforcement of public, primal honor. For centuries, the landed nobility had constituted a near iron-clad oligarchy — controlling Parliament, and the culture as well. I assure you that the rest of the posts in this series will be shorter and pithier, so I hope you will continue on with us. All honor codes are created to motivate society’s members towards behavior that the group believes will fulfill its needs and ensure its health, happiness, and security. Then we tackle the evolution of honor in the wars of the 20th century, followed by the decline of honor during the countercultural movement and its modern state. The middle-class also had disdain for the way the aristocracy held up idleness as a virtue, and looked down upon those who worked for a living. And adherence to the code of conduct was a way to build your public reputation for honor; good manners were easily observable markers by which others could judge you, and were seen as outward manifestations of the inner virtues of self-control, courtesy, and respect. For centuries, people had generally accepted the class system and their place in the hierarchy. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. And so that is where we will turn next time. The topic of manly honor is both far more complicated and much more fascinating than I had anticipated. Be nought, be any, everything, We moderns who have entirely lost the concept of public reputation and judgment, have questioned whether turning someone else in is truly honorable (and some students at the time grappled with this question too). Their often abrasive relations were eased by their possession of a common morality.”. ‘Is he an honest man?’. The Victorian honor code fostered the use of oaths and the creation of smaller male honor groups. Maybe even all this week, so we can actually have time for working on other posts, and showering. And justice – carried out in primitive times in a reflexive, eye-for-an-eye fashion — was increasingly administered by professional law enforcement and legal systems. As we’ll discuss more in the next post, there are different types of honor in every class, but the landed aristocracy laid exclusive right to the term. The most important change of the 19th century, however, was the rise of the middle class. Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South by Bertram Wayatt-Brown Podcast: The Gentlemen and the Roughs with Dr. Lorien Foote, ___________________________ What they think of, in other words, is the honor code of the Victorian Era. In the late 18th century, Edmund Burke already emphasized "the spirit of gentleman" and complained that "The age of chivalry [was] gone... and the glory of Europe … Part of the reasoning behind what had been the landed aristocracy’s exclusive control of politics and culture, was the idea that because they didn’t work for a living, they would be able to serve society with a value highly prized during this period: disinterest. The established career for society women was marriage - … Sir Walter Scott defined this concept of the gentleman repeatedly in his enormously influential Waverley Novels, and the code of the gentleman — and abuses of it — appear repeatedly in Victorian fiction. 80% of English citizens now lived in towns and cities, and some of their homes were outfitted with electric lights, had cabinets stocked with canned foods, and sat on gaslight-dotted streets. 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