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Titlu referat: About the life of womens after 1850

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  About the life of womens after 1850
About womens
subject of fashion may seem frivolous to some until we realize that women's
dress has always reflected the dynamic changes in society;
the exclusive handmade dresses-in a period where animal and human muscles were
the only source of power -- gradually gave way to the popularity of "tailor
made" clothes as textile factories dotted the landscape of early 19th century
northern England. Victorian sartorial elegance in its various modes depicted
England's prosperity as the world's economic power. By the 1850s England was
undoubtedly the greatest power in Europe; her breakthrough in steam power in
1790 and the subsequent mechanized production of goods made England the envy of
the world. While Europe and the rest of the world were still relying on an
agrarian economy, Victorian England was experiencing a whole new lifestyle
which largely revolved around machines.
Industrial Revolution in England spawned a prosperous middle-class, numerous
and important enough to direct and set the political and socio-economic
standard in Victorian England.The power of machines, however, both fascinated
and alarmed Victorians; the socio-economic structure of 19th century England
was swiftly changing;middle-class families became highly hierarchical as only
the husbands went out to work; this gave them more power because they were now
sole "breadwinners." Wives remained at home and became ladies of the house in
every sense of the word;Victorian upper class women were now idealized (but it
was spiritual worship that confined women in the home), and most of them
portrayed the Victorian ideal of womanhood: chaste, ornamental women who were
society's moral guardians, but still dependent on the goodwill of their devoted
male worshippers.Victorian middle-class women and men like everything else they
did-took their roles as "ornamental" ladies of the house and chivalrous
providers very seriously. Their high-minded seriousness were in part nurtured
by Puritan and utilitarian ethics.
       Industrial England by mid-19th century made available to
middle-class women fashionable clothes of quality which, hitherto, only
aristocrats could afford.
       Corsets and tightlacing to some dress reformers were seen as
devices that "mutilated" women; not only did these beauty devices reshape the
body, they were believed to have caused miscarriages, the birth of inferior
babies, illnesses and even licentiousness. "Medical theorists" argued that this
made blood become "impure and corrupt," caused "disease to the brain," and
inevitably led to "impure feelings." "Weak-minded" ladies were, therefore, easy
preys of temptation.
       Fashion in women's dress is characterized by constant small changes
in decoration and design, leading slowly to changes in general style and
silhouette. Thus the bell shape peaked in the mid-1860s, to be superseded by a
straight front line with a pile of material over the buttocks known as a
bustle. This silhouette remained dominant until the 1900s. In 1899, in The
Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen presented the principle that,
while the pursuit of wealth demanded middle-class men's full attention, their
wives became decorated objects, displaying in their dress a capitalist
"conspicuous consumption."
       Women's dress in the era 1850-65 gets progressively larger and more
horizontal in outline.  Gone are all the lines pointing down, and women in
fashion illustrations get a slightly more assertive look in their expressions,
more often looking out at the viewer at eye level.
1890s were the truly revolutionary years in the matter of dress and the
desirable "look." Developments set in motion then were gradually worked out in
succeeding decades. Skirts became shorter and tight lacing was abandoned; in
the early 1920s the "flapper," with her slim, boyish body, short hair, and
insouciant manner, became the new model of beauty, embodying the personal
independence and social rebelliousness of the decade. Yet, although often
presented as a model of freedom, the flapper actually was hemmed in by
restrictions, reflective of the ambiguous position of feminism in the interwar
years. The dominant beauty standards called for heavy makeup and a thin body,
which required strict dieting. Fashion also dictated a bosomless body line best
achieved by binding the breasts, thus often destroying muscular structure. In
addition, the celebration of youth that had long been a feature of American
fashion became a near-fetish in the 1920s. Advertising and the commercialized
culture of beauty reached their early maturity and based their sales appeals on
valorizing an evanescent stage of life. Finally, the continuation of the beauty
contest, already popular by the 1900s, focused women's competitive spirit on
their bodies, in contrast to men, who competed in business and
       Women's hair styles tended to reflect the lines of their gowns. As
skirts were drawn back in the mid to late 1860s, so the hair was also drawn up
and back to reveal the ears, for so long covered, but kept flat on top, with
curls or a small twist at the back of the head reflecting the back interest on
the dress. With the first bustles in the early 1870s the hair was lifted
higher, sloping upward from forehead to occiput, then cascading to the
shoulders in lavish twisted plaits (braids) or curls, or both, or occasionally
worn in a chignon. During this period enormous quantities of false hair were
used by the very fashionable, obtained, in Catholic countries, from novices
entering convents, and everywhere from prisoners or paupers in workhouses; hair
might fetch a good price, and peasant girls in Germany, Italy and France whose
traditional headdresses hid the absence of hair found its sale a source of
income; even middle-class girls in England or America, in need of cash, might
sell their hair, as Jo March did in Little Women.
1876 The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine announced that the use of false hair
was a thing of the past; the slim straight line of the cuirass body was
enhanced by hair dressed to give a smaller, neat appearance, close and high on
the head. A few curls might be arranged to fall from the back of the head to
the shoulders in the evening, and the increasingly fashionable, closely-curled
fringe favoured by the Princess of Wales might often be false; a false fringe
would avoid cutting the front hair. These fringes were thick enough to support
a diamond clip in the shape of a star or crescent for evening. The small neat
hairstyle remained in fashion through the late 1870s and into the 1880s, when
the hair was scraped up into a bun on top of the head. The curled ffinge was
reduced to small tendrils on the forehead. By the 1890s it had disappeared
altogether, and the hair was again dressed back from the forehead but fuller
and softer, possibly over pads to give a more bouffant style, still with the
twist or bun on top of the head.
       Recognising women’s work
nineteenth century Australia, as in Britain and elsewhere, the significance of
women’s work and economic
contribution was downplayed. This results in the lack of recognition of
women’s work in official
records, including census data, taxation records, civil registrations,
arbitration proceedings, and all other methods of control of the mainstream
economy.1 Indeed, in mid-nineteenth century England, ‘at a time when the concept of
occupation was becoming the core element in masculine identity, any position
for women other than in relation to men was anomalous’.In Australia, ‘denying women’s contribution to the family income
became entrenched as a tradition’.This paper is one attempt to redress this lack in the official
records by examining the working lives of a handful of women who established
their own businesses or made a significant contribution to family enterprises
in a small country town.
principles on which women’s work was categorised by the censuses of the second half of the
nineteenth century in the Australian colonies shows the transition of official
categorisation of women’s
work towards one which recognised individual paid work as valuable but ignored
women’s work within the
home or in the family enterprise. While the changes in the nineteenth century
censuses differed somewhat between the colonies,this model was accepted
decisively’ in the
Australian colonies than in Britain ‘with the result that women were regarded as naturally dependent on
their husbands, who were the sole legitimate breadwinners’.In NSW the government statistician,
Timothy Coghlan, used it as the primary division for employment: ‘the population of a country is
naturally divided into two broad divisions – breadwinners and
rationale supported the prevailing view of women as dependents, and reinforced
the ideal of ‘the entire
separation of love and duty rendered within the domestic circle, as between the
wife, husband, and other related members of a family’.For middle class women, the
prevailing ideology of ‘separate spheres’ with the mother as the ‘angel in the home’ creating a haven of moral and physical safety for husband and
children well away from public life, was a further incentive to undervalue a

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