“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Working on the Victorian literature dissertation? Well, it must be hectic as the period saw so many changes, and the role of education in the whole scenario was predominant. If you are stressed about how to craft your dissertation, do not worry – you are at the right place!
Taken from various Victorian literature dissertation samples, the guidelines in this article will help you craft the best dissertations on your chosen topic. You must have read enough writers to express your point of view on their works with authority.
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Discussing the Role Played by Education in Victorian Literature Dissertations
The Victorian period led the way to several developments in terms of education, and it also has distinct characteristics when talking about the overall educational system. During this time period, public education significantly evolved, but there were still gaps between the distribution of such services with respect to different genders and social classes.
Due to different aspects of British education, the literacy percentages among the population there increased significantly by the end of the Victorian age. The top five factors to be discussed in your Victorian literature dissertations are the following:
- Education and Social Classes
- Literacy Rates
- Ragged & Dame Schools
Let’s discuss the significance of these factors in detail now.
The advancement in public and general education in England happened rapidly in the Victorian era, and it was primarily due to several legislative changes done by the parliament. The wealthy families, as evident by all that had been written in English literature, used to send their children to fee-paying institutes or engage a governess for their education. But gender was still considered much more important in such cases.
Rote learning was usually preferred, and the education of boys was considered more important than that of girls. By 1880, in the nineteenth century, it was almost compulsory for parents to educate their children by law, and they would be fined if they did not obey the laws.
The image here shows the educational improvements that happened in the 19th century, during the era of Victorian writers. When writing a dissertation on Victorian literature, you should illustrate all these factors in detail.
2. Education and Social Classes
In the higher class, when the kids were quite young, they were educated by a governess. After reaching the age of 10, usually, the kids will go to a public school, which is highly expensive and selective. Even during that Victorian schooling period of awareness, boys had more education opportunities than girls.
Upper-class girls were not sent to educational institutions or schools; instead, they used to stay at home and learn the skills that would help them assist their husbands or make them proud. Such skills included sewing, cooking, playing an instrument, and singing. Eventually, they started getting formal education when women’s colleges began to open in England.
So, during Victorian literature dissertation writing, you must highlight the effect of social classes on the education of children.
3. Literacy Rates
After the eighteenth century was over and in the first quarter of the 19th century, circa 1830, the literacy rate was barely above 60% – for males. For females, the rate was further lower. Around 1870, the literacy rate among men and women became equal at 90%, which probably happened due to the increased involvement of the government in schools and education.
Also, the Enlightenment truly played a greater role in improving the literacy rates of the general public. The works of people like John Locke assisted a great deal in improving these rates and nearing the completion of Victoria’s reign around the 20th century, the rate had reached around 100% in both men and women.
As discussed above, in Victorian England, women were only believed to learn the artistic skills, languages, and talents that would allow them to earn a husband. Even there were many doctors who believed that if women were educated too much, it would affect their ability to reproduce. Therefore, when the trend of women’s education started, many families were reluctant to send their girls to schools.
After 40 years after the commencement of the Victorian era, the Education Act was passed in England around 1870, and it made it compulsory for both males and females to get elementary education.
To make this possible, female teachers were permitted, but their wage rate was much lower. Also, they were to either choose a profession or get married, so the female teachers were demanded to stay unmarried for the sake of teaching, and there was no such requirement for the male teachers.
The progressions of thought in the working classes of Victorian society are one of the excellent Victorian literature dissertation ideas.
5. Ragged & Dame Schools
The ‘Ragged Schools’ were established to provide the students with basic free education to the children of poor families. These schools were often run by churches and were based on the foundation of charity.
At such schools, the kids used to learn about general and primary school subjects, but they also learned about skills such as gardening and knitting. It was done to ensure that the kids have knowledge about certain kinds of house chores that they will be able to use later in their lives.
‘Dame Schools’ were established by women who were poor and were more likely to be called babysitters than educators. Often, such schools were run by the women in homes, and they were focused more on looking after the children than teaching them. Moreover, such schools were like a place where parents could leave their children when they were out to make money for the kids.
Both ragged and dame schools played an important role in increasing awareness about the importance of education in the Victorian era. If you choose these aspects to write on when looking for your Victorian literature dissertation topics, you should ensure to complete the entire timeline of the events.
When writing Victorian literature dissertations, you should keep all these factors in mind. Discussing the whole timeline of the era and relating it to other social factors of the Victorian period will serve the purpose and set your work apart from that of your fellows.
Make sure that all the facts and figures you include in your papers are taken from valid sources and are accurate. If there are any grammatical faults in your papers, consider it no less than a crime and make your dissertation free of all sorts of errors.
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