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Gothic Romance

Class Culture And Suburban Anxieties In The Victorian Era by Lara Baker Whelan

By Lara Baker Whelan

This booklet demonstrates how representations of the Victorian suburb in mid- to late-nineteenth century British writing occasioned a literary sub-genre specific to this era, person who tried to reassure readers that the suburb used to be a spot the place outsiders may be managed and the place middle-class values should be enforced. Whelan explores the dissonance created through the variations among the suburban perfect and suburban realities, spotting the patience of that excellent within the face of ample facts that it was once infrequently discovered. She discusses facts from fundamental and secondary assets approximately perceptions and realities of suburban residing, exhibiting what it intended to reside in a "real" Victorian suburb. The publication additionally demonstrates how the suburban perfect (with its parts of privateness, cleanliness, rus in urbe, and respectability), in its relation to culturally embedded rules concerning the appealing and Picturesque, received this kind of powerful foothold within the Victorian center classification that considering its failure triggered excessive nervousness. Whelan is going directly to hint the ways that this nervousness is represented in literature.

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The lack of social stability in the suburbs contributed to the anxiety of their middle-class residents, but there were other factors which combined to make the stronghold of middle-class culture and values an unsettling place. ” Anyone earning from £100 to £1,000 a year could consider that he had “arrived” and was entitled to suburban residence. The population that qualified as middle class increased dramatically in the second half of the century—between 1850 and 1914 overall real wages increased 75–80% while per capita income rose an incredible 107% between 1860 and 1895 (Rodger 10, 63).

With the river Thames, innocent of dead dogs hereabout, running through the midst” (312), suddenly gets “a mission”: bricks. The Dumbledowndereans threw themselves upon bricks with an ardour and an intensity of purpose really surprising; and it is doubtless due to their extensive operations and speculations in bricks that there are so many brick-fields and so many brick-barges . . so many brickmakers, bricklayers, and bargees . . and more especially, that Dumbledowndeary may be called without much exaggeration a Town to Let [312].

In this chapter, I show that the anxiety about the safety and respectability of suburban space encountered in Victorian literature stemmed directly from the ways in which the urban poor were constructed in middle-class literature by the middle classes themselves. INTERLOPERS AND INVASIONS Outsiders in the suburbs threatened the middle class’s ability to escape urban problems, hence the anxiety surrounding both the invaders themselves and the security of suburban boundaries. Yet, as I showed in the last chapter, social homogeneity was almost impossible to attain in most suburban developments, even while suburbanites struggled to maintain the illusion that everyone in the suburb belonged there.

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