What is the Victorian attitude
The typical Victorian woman was expected to bear her husband children, to ensure her family’s happiness, to be suppressed and to show minimal emotion. Hence, true love was not as common as present day, especially for the upper class, who were being constantly being scrutinized by society. These attitudes are explored in ‘Jude the Obscure’, ‘Sonnet VI’ from Sonnets from the Portuguese, and ‘Jane Ere’. The main attitude towards love in Victorian society was that it was a career move for men, and a way for a woman to secure her position in life and the security of her children.
Hence it was important to put love last to marry well, as your future depended on it. The Victorian novel ‘Jude the obscure’ partially rejects this idea. In the case of Suede’s marriage to Rubella, although there was some original attraction, due to Rubella’s flirtatious nature, Jude quickly realizes that Rubella is not the one for him. However before he can break up with her, she tells him she is pregnant, and therefore he marries her, as it is the only noble thing to do.
Again in Cue’s marriage to Mr.. Philologist, it is not a career move. Philologist is belly in love with Sue, however his love is requited, and Sue only loves him as a friend. However, perhaps as a reaction to Jude confessing that he was married to Rubella, Sue acts rashly and marries Philologist. In both cases, the main objective of the marriages where not to progress in society, but on the other hand, neither were because of love either, therefore this attitude towards love is only partially rejected.
Sue and Suede’s relationship is built on true love, in that sense this attitude is fully rejected, however they have no intention of getting married, and due to the volatility of their characters, Cue’s n particular, it is uncertain how long their relationship will last. Elizabeth Barrett Borrowing’s sonnet also rejects this attitude of marriage being a necessity in society, and love was more of an afterthought. Throughout the sonnet, she uses very beautiful and positive imagery when describing her emotions towards Richard. “l shall command/ The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand/ Serenely in the sunshine as before. The use of “command” suggests that she is in control, however she then talks about the “uses of [her] soul” it changes her meaning a bit. It could be interpreted as her thoughts Of him controlling her. Or it could also mean that all she can think about is him, and nothing else, and she can’t control her thoughts. The next part paints a positive image, about no longer having to block out the sunshine, this may be construed as her having to stop thinking about him. The sunshine could be referring to Richard, or his love for her, or her love for him.
The “lift my hand” may be referring to her blocking her love for him, or his advances towards her, in both interpretations she blinds herself to Richard. However the message is that she is partially committed and feels it is right, and she no longer has to stop herself from thinking about him or blocking his advances towards her. Browning rejects this attitude to love, and presents an argument that love can be true love. ‘Jane Ere’ also rejects this attitude, and Jane chooses true love over this opportunistic love. SST. John, Cane’s cousin, proposes to her even though he doesn’t really love her.
He believes that she can fulfill the duties he needs for his wife to do as he embarks on his journey to India as a missionary. Jane doesn’t love him either and therefore turns down his proposal, much to his annoyance. “God and nature intended you for a missionary’s wife… A missionary’s wife you must shall be. You shall be mine: I claim you -? not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign’s service. ” SST. John’s proposal is far from romantic, and in comparison with Rochester, has no love, or any emotion. The whole proposal is imperative, commanding Jane to agree and be his wife.
He uses “God” and “nature” to suggest that this is God’s plan, and it is only natural that Jane play out this role and fulfill her duty. SST. John says it is not for his pleasure, telling the reader that he has no romantic feelings towards Jane. He then goes on to say it is for “my Sovereign’s service”, thus agreeing with the attitude of love, as marrying Jane would propel him in society and his career, and love is not of importance. Jane rejects SST. John’s proposal because it would have been a loveless marriage, whereas she agrees to Rochester’s proposal because of their mutual romantic love for each other.
In the Victorian era, this would have been very uncommon, as most people put love last for marriage, Cane’s effuse of this however shows that not everyone in Victorian society accepted this, and some craved for true love. Marriage was supposed to be a way of securing a future and a necessity of advancing yourself. Due to the laws at the time, marriage was a very final affair, to divorce or to separate was extremely frowned upon by society and even when that occurred there would be complications for both parties and children, e. . If divorced, any children would be declared illegitimate immediately. This made a lot of women nervous about making any commitment to their suitors. This idea is explored extensively in ‘Jude the Obscure’, with Sue Bridgehead constantly questioning society attitude towards marriage. She challenges the accepted norm, that the institution of marriage is more of a trap than a declaration of love. She criticizes society’s inability to accept the breaking of this commitment that most people are emotionally unequipped to fulfill.
She strongly feels that the contractual nature of the agreement will kill the little spontaneity and romance that existed before the marriage. She says “It is foreign to a man’s tauter to go on loving a person when he is told that he must and shall be a person’s lover What is interesting with this is that although she constantly talks about women being the ones who have to adhere to society’s standards and sacrifice all individuality, here she uses “he”. This may be to effectively convey her reasoning to Jude and get her points across in a way that he’d understand.
Also she refers to “man’s nature”, implying that it is unnatural and against human nature to be confined to these legal obligations. This opinion of hers is further reinforced by her horror when visiting the squalid egotist office, as well as her aversion to having a church wedding. This shows her abhorrence to the legality of getting married, and comes into play when she refuses to marry Jude, although they lead a happy unmarried life together for a few years. In Borrowing’s Sonnet VI from ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’ she also mentions this wariness of marriage.
She begins the sonnet with this uncertainty, “Go from me. Yet feel that I shall stand/ Henceforth in thy shadow. ” The first phrase is an imperative; however she follows this quickly with a pivot, “Yet’. This shows that she is torn between loving him or not, as it is a massive risk. Structurally, Browning has placed this right at the beginning of the sonnet, signaling to the author that this has ensures has plagued her mind for a long time, and it’s the first thing she thinks about.
Also it could suggest that since the very start, she has been unsure as to whether she loves him, and she knows the consequences of committing right from the beginning. This emotion is typical of many of Browsing earlier sonnets from her series “Sonnets from the Portuguese” as it is the beginning of their arthritis and she is still uncertain whether this is the man for her. This decision will influence her whole future, so she is very tentative in her feelings towards Richard Browning.
Charlotte Bronze also explores this concept In Jane Ere, after Mr. Rochester proposes to Jane, she goes into much deliberation and a lot of dialogue is exchanged between them before she agrees to give herself to him, as his bride. “rare you in earnest? Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife? ” This quote is made entirely of questions, as she is unsure if she can trust what he is saying to be rue. She uses strong adverbs such as “truly/’ and “sincerely’ as she wants to be entirely sure of his devotion to her.