But if a girl managed to survive to adulthood, her chance of living to a ripe old age of 50, 60, 70 or even older was quite good.
These odds only increased as the century progressed and improvements in sanitation, nutrition and medical care lengthened Victorian lifespans.
At the end of the 18th century, the average age of first marriage was 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women.
Following such principles allowed men, allegedly controlled by their mind or intellectual strength, to dominate society, to be the governing sex, given that they were viewed as rational, brave, and independent.
Women, on the other hand, were dominated by their sexuality, and were expected to fall silently into the social mold crafted by men, since they were regarded as irrational, sensitive, and dutiful.
The popular image of young ladies lacing themselves into corsets drawn up as tight as their maids could make them is a bit misleading.
While the Victorian era did feature fashions that emphasized a tiny waist only achievable through the careful application of whalebone and ribbon, most women wore their daily corsets with a healthy dose of moderation—not to the point of swooning on the divan.
Marrying your first cousin was perfectly acceptable in the early 1800s, and the practice certainly offered some benefits: Wealth and property were more likely to remain in the same hands, and it was easier for young women to meet and be courted by bachelors within the family circle.
Later in the 19th century, though, marriage between cousins became less common.Increased mobility due to the growth of the railroad and other widespread economic improvements vastly broadened a young lady’s scope of prospective husbands.Meanwhile, the Victorian era saw a rise in awareness of birth defects associated with reproduction among relatives.Because society prevented women from making their own living, there was an inescapable dependence upon men’s income: “Barred by law and custom from entering trades and professions by which they could support themselves, and restricted in the possession of property, woman had only one means of livelihood, that of marriage” (Kent 86).Therefore, no matter what the women desired, most were predestined to become wives due to their economic reliance on men.Also, at the time, corsets weren’t simply a fashion statement: They were actually thought to encourage good, healthful posture and to keep the internal organs in proper alignment.