Throughout all of history there has been a desire for status. Both men and women have set out to achieve it. However, because of the constraints placed on women through most of history, their aspiration and realization of status has been tainted. The Georgian era (1714- 1830) during British history is probably the most interesting when it comes to this struggle because of the class structure and the discrimination against women. These women were dubbed social climbers, and that title was not usually a compliment.
During the Georgian era, England was broken into different social classes. Most people stayed within the class into which they were born. Most historians agree that the structure of the classes was broken into five groups: the aristocracy, which were the people right below the king and the queen. They had a lot of money, land, and power. This class usually included the relatives of the crown. Most of these people received their status by birth and marriage rather than merit.
[...] In the Georgian era, status and class seemed to be different things as well. What was at issue was a question of class, or rather of the difference between rank and class. Ranking guaranteed recognition, class craved it. Snobbery, as Lionel Trilling remarks, is the vice not of aristocratic societies, but of bourgeois democratic societies. It arises from the insecurity of the individual who seeks pride in status but lacks pride in inherited function. In any social setting, he asks I belong? [...]
[...] It was condemned (mostly by wealthy women) because of the high social mixing that went on there. Part of the appeal to Vauxhall was that civil liberties were “relaxed or dropped altogether.” Despite the condemnation, it was still frequented by high- class men. The final owners went bankrupt in 1840 and the pleasure garden closed its doors for good. Some social climbing women did marry their prospects. Nevertheless, once married, some women were not happy with the constraints placed on them. [...]
[...] During this period in history, women had no legal backing; when a divorce ensued, the woman in question lost all of her property and, in addition, all the status that the marriage had brought her. Women were also considered inferior when it came to education. The reputation of being a Blue or Bluestocking, itself a mid-eighteenth- century expression in origin, was a social and sexual handicap. To be thought ‘clever' was to be relegated to a distinct and inferior species of being, one unlikely to reproduce itself by marriage. [...]
[...] Probably the best literary example of a social climber comes from the classic Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. The book follows a young girl named Becky Sharp, from her climb as a poor artist's daughter to a military wife of high status before her final disgrace. Not having financial or social security as a child, Becky, as an adult, works tirelessly for it. She stops at nothing to make sure that she (and later her husband) have good social standing, even if that means flirting (or doing more) with other men to make that happen. [...]
[...] In some cases it did lead to marriage; in most cases (especially those in which a child was produced) it let to the governess being excused from her position. Because of the lack of good birth control, children were a very real possibility. Salo Pills were intended for use as an abortive medicine. However, because of the high price (50 pounds for a box), they were not affordable for most women, especially working women. Those who had their children had them a term used that meant that women either left the area where they were known or stayed in their house until their baby was born. [...]
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