“The Model Mother” in Punch and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

By I. P.

The Model Mother

My chosen source is a magazine article, “The Model Mother,” from volume 15 of Punch, accompanied by a small illustration of a plump Victorian woman in full dress sitting upright in an armchair. It was published during the same year as Anne Brontё’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: 1848. I am using these sources to compare contemporary views regarding child-raising, both public ideals and private notions, the latter of which is described by Brontё’s Helen Graham and Mrs Markham in chapter three of the novel; the controversy is over whether one should enable their child “the circumstance of being able and willing to resist temptation; or that of having no temptation to resist?”

Significantly, both the novel and article reflect middle-class ideals; Helen and the Markham family are middle-class characters and Punch was tailored to a middle-class readership. However, they agree with one another only to an extent. Punch is likely an unreliable source when researching theories of child-raising since it is intended for “clean Continue reading

Status, Virtue and Bestowing Charity Beyond the Sea

By April Oldford

April's ScanCharles Dickens’ Bleak House is social problem novel, regarding the terrible conditions for those living in Victorian England and a scathing critique of those among society who remained indifferent on the subject, particularly those whom Dickens’ felt concerned themselves with “telescopic philanthropy,” that is, charity with a narrowed focus on issues external to Britain, rather than issues closer to home (Dickens 52). One of the charitable targets of Dickens’ criticisms was Caroline Chisholm, the founder of the Family Colonization Loan Society, a foundation that “transferred Great Britain’s poor, unemployed and starving from the slums of London, Liverpool, Manchester, and other Continue reading

Keeping Child Rearing Within the Private Sphere

By E. S.

Unhealthy homeThe article I chose to look at was found within Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, an American magazine based in New York that contained current stories, novels, advertisements and entertainment. It was bound within a hard cover and used a two columns per page format. The section of the magazine I read was entitled “How To Make Home Unhealthy” and it begins with an introduction stating how wise it is for royalty to be aided in government by its public. The author, Harriet Martineau, cites the story of the ancient Chinese Emperor Yao, who asked those of his subjects with valuable suggestions to give them to him. But as more and more people with perhaps less and less valuable input put in their opinion the result was quite discordant and caused great confusion. At this point, Martineau relates the discordant chimes of ancient China to the current state of British politics. The tone of the introduction becomes decidedly sarcastic as the she names the people “our royal public” and labels the Sanitary Inspectors of the government as those who are giving the Continue reading

Domestic Violence in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Punch or the London Charivari

By Clementine Sykes
Little Lessons for Little Ladies

The Victorian era saw many married women reduced to domestic subservience to husband and family. The period valued middle and upper class women in the restrictive dichotomy of “Angel in the House” versus “Fallen Woman,” and Queen Victoria provided a romanticized version of the privileged binary (Abrams). However, the “Angel in the House” was an inherently oppressed being; as Victorian feminist Barbara Leigh-Smith Bodichon reported, “A man and wife are one person in law; the wife loses all her rights…her body belongs to her husband” (24). Wives were thus vulnerable to abuse from legally omnipotent husbands, as reflected in Punch’s 1950 satirical cartoon “Little Lessons for Little Ladies” and Anne Brontë’s 1948 novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Continue reading

Prim and Proper Parents: The Victorian Era and the Cult of Childhood

By Brianna Wright

Babyolotry page 1

The byword of the Victorian era may well have been progress. In the 1800’s major advancements in both the sciences and the arts resulted in a new geography of industrial cities, a new class of moral capitalists – and new theories of Victorian parenting. One article, entitled “Babyolatry” (defined by the author as child worship) puts forth one theory on the subject. Given the front page of the February 28, 1846 issue of Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal, the article reveals an intense reverence for children. Although the author may forever remain anonymous, her ideas about children compare to Helen Huntingdon’s from Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In particular, both individuals believe that children possess original innocence and provide ideal companionship. Continue reading

Child-Raising and the Role of Mothers in the Victorian Era

By Kayla Larson

KaylaMother's Love - Joanna Baillie

Throughout Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Helen Graham is consistently portrayed as a protective and caring mother. Despite facing critique from neighbours and judgment from her estranged husband, Helen determinedly raises her son with utmost care and devotion. From simple protection from the world’s temptations to fearlessly sacrificing her marriage and relationships, as well as her upper middle-class lifestyle, with the intent of ensuring a future with her son, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’s Helen Graham embodies the values of motherhood depicted by Joanna Baillie in her poem, “Mother’s Love,” published in The Family Economist in 1850, in every way she can. Continue reading

Religion and Science in Child-Rearing in the Victorian Era

By Cana Donovan

Cana How to Kill Clever Children pg. 1

Harper’s New Monthly Magazine was published monthly from 1850 to 1899 in New York. Harper’s featured a wide variety of articles about local and foreign goings-on, scientific findings, advertisements on just about everything, and even serialized literature found a home within. While on different continent than Queen Victoria, America also went through a Victorian age with many of the same moral ideas driving society. Most especially, the Victorian age, both in England and in America, exhibited a fascination with both religious piety and scientific advancement. After looking through several editions  of Harpers, I stumbled upon a professed scientific article written by Ira Mayhew in 1850, entitled “How to Kill Clever Children”—certainly an eye-catcher. Continue reading