The ideology of domesticityAs a reaction to the rackety private lives of some of their predecessors, the queen and Prince Albert set out to create a monarchy rooted in the idea of a happy marriage and domestic values that would give an example to the rest of the country. Walter Bagehot wrote ‘A family on the throne is an interesting idea. It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life’.
|Victoria and Albert's|
The ideology of domesticity was set out in the novels and paintings of the period. Home was regarded as a place of calm happiness away from the turmoil of the world of work, and the wife was the guardian of the home. Although women were denied a say in politics, they were nevertheless thought to play a vital part in the ordering of society. It is often said that the Victorian period saw a rigid ideology of separate spheres: the man’s role was public and outward-looking, the woman’s was private and domestic. Women were denied a direct political role, but because the home was a site of national importance, their domestic role was seen as politically important. If a woman went wrong, therefore, this prefigured national disaster.