Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stuffy Victorians

Victorians have a reputation for being stuffy and repressed.  As a true fanatic of the time period (I am, after all, specializing in them for my MA) I feel like they're getting a bad rap.  They're so misunderstood.  Sometimes it's a matter of reading between the lines; catching the subtext in a seemingly insignificant sentence of a novel.  Other times the innuendoes fly at you with a flashing neon sign.  Just the other evening I was reading from an 1883 novel by Wilkie Collins before bedtime when I came across this gem:

'Make love -- hot love to her, doctor!'

Obviously, I'm aware that the term 'make love' at this time period alluded to emotional and verbal (not physical) expressions of affection.  But come on!  Show me a contemporary reader who can encounter that line without at least laughing on the inside, and I will eat my head!  To prove my point I'll conclude this post with a hilarious Kate Beaton comic featuring Victoria and Albert.
See more Hark, a Vagrant! comics here

7 comments:

Ana said...

So true... Of course, you might be slightly biased after your Jane Austen essay, but I'll agree with you, they were not all that stuffy not at all. All the fainting and indisposition was bound to be a disguise for something else.

Melissa Blake said...

I loooove that quote!!

Diana said...

Isn't it awesome? Ana, I kind of thought fainting and indisposition was more of a Gothic Romance device, but the heroine of this novel fainted away early on in the plot. I guess the Victorians weren't immune to it.

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