Exam 1: Topic 2... Between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of World War I, the influence of
the growing American middle class only grew stronger, as its members sought to shape
American society in their image, transmitting their Victorian values through their growing
influence in politics, economic activity, and popular culture. However, it is clear that
those Victorian values sometimes existed as idealized images of how life was supposed
to be, while a more complicated and sometimes contradictory reality lay underneath,
even (or especially) among the “Victorians” themselves.
If this topic is selected for the exam, you will be given a list of four key features of
Victorian middle class culture, and you will have to write about three of them in terms of
the above theme. For each of them, you will have to decide whether it is consistent with
the realities lying beneath it, contradicts those realities, or perhaps does some of each.