The Victorian Era: Social Stratification and Child Labour - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2026 Words
Date:  2023-03-18


The victorian era was a period of Queen Victoria's reign, which spanned from 1837 to 1901. In this era, the great industrial revolution had begun and its effects were now felt all over. Farmers moved from the villages to the cities to seek employment. The victorian era was marred with social stratification. Great Britain was moving towards processing and manufacturing, and indeed she was an economic giant. The working class consisted of mainly poor people. During this period, child labour was a common sight. Farmers who moved to the city to look for jobs always forced their children to go to work, as early as four years old. They did not think that school was important. Young boys would be seen working in factories. The wages paid to the children was low, as they were viewed as sources of cheap labour.

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Young girls would stay at home and be taught how to do house chores. This was in a bid to prepare for their future husbands as during this period, a woman's place was believed to be only at home. Women were expected to be housewives (Crow, 1971, n.p). During this period, children had almost no control over their future. Boys and men were viewed to be superior sex, and boys were raised to become future heads of families. Child labour was a common phenomenon until laws were enacted over a couple of years to curb the menace. Due to the rising use of coal as a fuel, many children were employed in coal mines and were used in the mine shafts due to their small sizes. Some of the children were employed in factories, to act as chimney cleaners (Waker, 2011, n.p). They would remove soot from the chimneys. Apart from being paid a considerably low amount of money, their working conditions were horrible.

All these had far-reaching effects on children. Due to poor working conditions, for example, working in poorly lit coal mines, some of the children developed vision problems since they would strain their eyes a lot. Some children got stuck in the chimneys while they were carrying out their routine cleaning. The children would not be noticed at times. Due to inhaling a lot of soot in the chimneys, children developed respiratory problems. The children also scratched their limbs while cleaning the chimneys. It is so sad that some children even lost their limbs while operating machinery.

The 21st century has seen a lot of progress from the Victorian period. Children have rights that are embedded in most constitutions. In fact, so many laws have been enacted to protect children. Child labour, even though still existing in some parts of the world, has been outlawed. Employing a child is illegal, and one could be sued and jailed. Moreover, education in the 21st century has witnessed a lot of technological advancement. Due to the presence of the internet, children have access to a wide source of information. This paper is going to talk about gender in the working class while comparing both the victorian era and the 21st century.

Career Choice

As mentioned before, both girls and boys in the Victorian era had little or no say about their future. The set society had already set out a path for them. They were expected to follow the paths strictly in order to gain respect from the society. Boys were raised to become the heads of their respective families. Women and girls were being prepared for being housewives to their husbands. Boys were superior to girls and there was no such thing as gender equality. However, both the girls and boys had the same education at Sunday school, which was compulsory. Here they were taught to read and write. At school, the boys were mainly taught math, science, and languages. Women were instead taught how to carry out their house chores and were taught some duties such as sewing.

Fast forward to the 21st century, things are a little bit different. Now both boys and girls are given equal opportunities to succeed in life. They are put in class together, regardless of the gender except for some institution that only teaches a single-gender. Both boys and girls are taught similar subjects, as they are viewed to be equals. Women are no longer viewed as housewives. Currently, it is mandatory to take children to school. Most governments provide free primary education so everyone can get access to quality schools. Unlike the Victorian era, only children whose parents were rich would be able to go to school and learn, different subjects. Some boys who came from wealthy families could go to boarding schools.

The fact that during the victorian times, only a single gender would be allowed to go to school, meant that various career opportunities were filled by men. Many men occupied senior management positions due to the education they had received. Women could only sit at home and do house chores. However, in the 21st century, things have changed. All the boys and girls are taught the same subjects and are viewed as equals. Both boys and girls are given the same opportunities to succeed in their education. In fact, in higher education institutions such as universities, they are allowed to choose their careers. They are both allowed to become who they choose in the future.

In the victorian era, most positions were filled with men. In the 21st century, careers that were thought to be masculine are now filled with women. Jobs such as teaching, that were considered to be masculine, are now filled with women. Girls have proven that if they are given equal opportunities similar to their male counterparts, chances are that they will equally succeed. We are now seeing women in careers such as medicine. Such careers were considered to be masculine during g the victorian era. Apart from that, the 21st century has taught us that there are no masculine or feminine jobs. Boys choose who they come. Sewing, which was considered feminine back in the Victorian era, is now done by men, comfortably. The society no longer chooses paths for children. Both boys and girls live in a free world, where they become what they choose to. There is no such thing such as feminine and masculine. Women have fought for their rights too, demanding equality. They believe that if given fair chances, they are capable of succeeding at whatever they choose just like their male counterparts.

During the victorian era, girls were not allowed to engage in some activities such as sporting. However, the situation is different today. Girls can now participate in various sporting activities and even excel at them. Similarly, some activities that were considered feminism such as singing and dancing, are now done by boys too. Girls mainly sang so that they could entertain their husbands whenever they were married. We can clearly see that the two different periods had an influence on what boys and girls would become whenever they grew up.

Society's Influence

Society plays a key role in an individual's development regardless of gender. The society expects one to carry out his or herself with a particular form of decorum. As a fact, the society at times designs paths that they deem fit for you to follow. Following these paths always makes you successful according to them. The society even designs the education systems.

In the victorian era, society was so religious. They took seriously the religion they subscribed to. That is why Sunday school among kids was compulsory. They argued that by doing this, both boys and girls would be able to hold up the highest levels of moral standards. The views have definitely changed since the Victorian era. Attending Sunday school every week is not compulsory. The society in the victorian era approved corporal punishment. Presently, In the United Kingdom, corporal punishment is a thing of the past.

The society in the victorian age set out some careers to be filled with boys, and those to be filed by men. Since boys learned mathematics and sciences at schools, they took a career path that was mainly technical. During this time, inventions were so many people strived to improve their productivity. It is important to note that most of the inventions were made by men. During this period, women did not make significant inventions. This was due to the fact girls and boys were not given equal opportunities. Girls would mainly sit at home while the boys went to school. This is how society influenced the careers of both boys and girls.

Education Chances

It is important to note that various circumstances affect education both in the victorian era and the 21st century. Sometimes children could miss out on going to school because of being pre-occupied with other duties. Children in the victorian age lived in a period that was rampant with child abuse. Due to the thriving industrialization, employers were in need of cheap labour. Where else would you look for cheap labour? The employers settled on children. Children were so effective in getting most of the issues done. They worked in a variety of industries, especially coal mines. The poor working conditions led to the death of many children. It also led to many children being injured.

Apart from that, being employed at an early age meant that children would forego school. The employers relied on children to do specific jobs such as cleaning chimneys due to their small size. When they became bigger, they could no longer access the chimney, hence employers had nouse for them. They were then fired and by then it would be too late to go to school. By this time, they would not be able to choose which career paths they would wish to take. The boys could not get a chance to go to school except for those who came from rich families, who had all the time to go to school

Moreover, since the society did not see value in educating the girls, the girls got little or no education (olsen, 1976, pg 191). This meant that they could not choose to take other career paths such as medicine and science. Not getting education limited their choices in life. When they got old enough, they were married off to men and were expected to apply whatever they had been taught throughout their lives.

Subject Preference

During the victorian era, there were subjects that girls preferred, while there are those that boys preferred. However, religion was taught across all genders. This is because going to Sunday school was compulsory. At Sunday school, both boys and girls were taught how to read the bible. Boys preferred to be taught arithmetic while girls preferred practical subjects such as sewing lessons. This would go a long way in influencing their career paths.

In the 21st century, advancement in technology has led to a wide variety of disciplines. Apart from the basic education that was taught back in the victorian period, 21st-century education is more advanced and contain a lot of subjects due to research. The subjects are also aligned with the problems affecting people in the 21st century. Both boys and girls can get access to a wide source of information via different devices like phones and computers that they own. The 21st-century education is moving away from the traditional teaching methods whereby a teacher writes notes on the board in front of the class and the pupils are expected to jot them down in their books.

In the victorian era, teachers used to stand in front of the classroom and shout to the pupils. The pupils were expected to understand whatever they were being taught. This was a time that was marred with corporal punishment (Elliot-Binns, 2019, n.p). Students would be punished whenever they did mistakes. However, this has changed in the 21st century. Students are required to be creative, and the system allows for failure. When students fail, they are corrected. This makes them not to be afraid of trying new things. This was different in the Victorian era. Students were afraid of trying out new things since they knew that should they fail, t...

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The Victorian Era: Social Stratification and Child Labour - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 18). Retrieved from

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