Victorian moralityVictorian era is now often regarded as one of many contradictions. It is easy for many to see a clash between the widespread cultivation of an outward appearance of dignity and restraint and the widespread presence of many arguably deplorable phenomena, including prostitution, child labour, and having an economy based to a large extent on what many would now see as the exploitation of colonies through imperialism and of the working classes. The expression Victorian values thus may be two-edged.
The term Victorian has acquired a range of connotations, including that of a particularly strict set of moral standards, often applied hypocritically. This stems from the impression that Queen Victoria herself (and her husband, Prince Albert, perhaps even more so) was an innocent, unaware of the private habits of many of her respectable subjects - this particularly relates to their sex lives. This impression is far from the truth. Victoria's attitude to sexual morality actually sprang from her knowledge of the corrosive effect which the loose morals of the aristocracy in earlier reigns had had on the public's respect for the nobility and the Crown.
Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say "leg" in mixed company (the preferred euphemism if such must be mentioned was "limb"), and people would even put skirts on piano legs in the name of modesty. Those going for a dip in the sea at the beach would use a bathing machine. Verbal or written communication of emotion or sexual feelingss was also often verboten so people instead used the language of flowers.
Comparing the Victorian age to our own, it has been observed that whilst the Victorians pretended to be much better than they were, we pretend to be a lot worse than we are.
See also: sexual repression, sexual norm