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Living the dream: Social climbers during Georgian England

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  1. Introduction
  2. The division of England into different social classes
  3. The concepts of status and class in the Georgian era
  4. The structure of the social classes and women
    1. The treatment of women as property
    2. Getting treated like second class citizens
    3. The eductaion given to girls
    4. The job of a governess
    5. Teaching in a home as way to climb the social ladder
    6. Socially ambitious woman and finding a husband
  5. The 'accidental' deaths of the husbands
  6. Conclusion

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. [...]


[...] polite society the ex-actress was expected to play the part of a high-bred lady, in which a quiet manner and a serene countenance were de rigueur.? Some women were successful in this act, and even used this act to fool some men into marrying them. On the other hand, some were scandalized. Take the case of Mary Robinson. A well- known actress and poet, her reputation was dishonored after her affair with the Prince of Wales left her broke and shamed. [...]

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