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May 1st, 2009

Community Welcome and Opening Thoughts

Fellow Victorians, I realize that this is a trying and confusing time for all of us. We live in a time of change, of expansion and innovation, but also of confusion and trouble. Our own identities are jumbled and there is no solidarity between all Victorians in the quest to become the penultimate Victorian. After my own struggles, which I will relate to you, I have come to the conclusion that that is alright. Being a Victorian means something different to us all, and our own perceptions of Victorian identity change with experience and time. So I am here to offer a place to discuss what being a Victorian means to you.

My own answer to this question has changed over the years, particular in respect to recent events within my own social circle. I used to think that being a Victorian meant denying fancy and accepting only fact. With the advent of factories and progress, I thought that this only enforced the idea that only fact advances people. Factories are the epitome of fact, with their machines and cogs, and infallible day after day routine. I took the factory mentality home, and used that process to mold my own children. They were to be the ultimate Victorians, as reliable and successful as factories, with no room for fancy or feeling. I am now deeply ashamed of myself. By denying my children room to properly develop feelings, I turned my son into a scoundrel and my daughter into an unhappy machine. I thought that a Victorian was synonymous with mechanical, but to my surprise, that was not. Lucy spent years of her life deeply unhappy. Tom spent years of his life rebelling and ended up running from the law. By looking at the family interloper who resisted my molding and is quite happy, I realize that being a Victorian does not mean buying into the factory mentality, where life goes on the same way day after day, and only caring about fact. Instead Victorians need a combination of fact and fancy, to care about progress, but not at the expense of human feelings. I am now a humbled man and must admit that my mechanical view of Victorian England was incorrect.

I can only hope that others benefit from this revelation. I hear news now of scientific advancement, and I can only hope they realize the unhappy end they will come too before it gets that far. What good can come of establishing more fact? We do not need to concentrate on learning more, but instrad should appreciate what and who we already know. No good can come of science, only more detachment from the emotion that I now know is so essential to our survival and humanity. We are not machines, we should not be made into machines, and we should abandon science before it does just that.

I have realized the dangers of expansion. I have emotionally damaged my children with my obsession for facts. I am worried about the damage that this interest in science can do. I am a Victorian.

Take heed my fellow Victorians, and please, share your tales of Victorian identity so that others may learn from our triumphs and mistakes. Introduce yourself, and let’s discuss. And please, follow the rules as outlined in the community profile.

Hello, my dear peers, my name is Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

    Thank you Mrs. Rochester for your delightful insight on what it means to be a Victorian woman. I too am a somewhat unconventional woman, but no less a Victorian for it. I wanted to be the next Homer, to write poetry concerned with more than love and flowers. I eloped with my husband, going against my father’s wishes. So yes, I too am a passionate, intelligent Victorian woman. How silly it is to think that women cannot feel as deeply as men! Poetry is the very essence of feeling, it is our heart and our minds in written form. My husband recognized his match through my poetry because my poetry is me. I quite agree with you Mrs. Rochester that we are men’s emotional and intellectual peers, and I am quite delighted to support your ideas.

    I too would like to address Mr. Gradgrind, although my response is more in support of his ideas concerning the condition of England. I do think that we have more to be concerned about with the factory lifestyle than just emotional distance, even as important an issue that is. I think we need to be concerned about the children of England. We are forcing them to work in the mines, to grow old before their time, to abandon everything that is good about humanity to toil in the workshops and mines. To be a Victorian should not mean to enslave women and children, be it emotionally or through physical labor. It is our duty as Victorians to ensure the protection of the next generation, to allow them to be children, and, I suppose you are right Mr. Gradgrind, to emotionally care for them as well.

I am a strong woman as well, a great poet, and a subject of England concerned with the direction expansion is taking. I am a Victorian.
Hello all, my name is Charles Lyell.

What a wonderful community! I find that I need a place like this in these times of great change. You see, I am one of those scientists that our esteemed community moderator deplores. But I too am a Victorian, though that does not seem to mean to you, Mr. Gradgrind, what it does to me. I believe that being a Victorian means questioning the status quo and incorporating new ideas. It means discovering and challenging, but never loosing hope in ourselves and our worth.

I search for truth, and I believe that science gives me that truth. However, this has led to a discovery that challenges the faith of Victorians everywhere. I believe that the earth was not formed as it is said to in the Bible. I believe that is was formed quite before that, and that the earth is older than any of us quite realize. It has been changing and developing in such a way that quite disputes that idea that the earth was created by God and has been left the same since. Natural phenomenon are just that. They are not influenced by the supernatural.

The world is very old, and we are a mere blip in the history of this great planet. This is a hard concept to accept. But just because in the scheme of things we are mere grains of sand in a vast desert does not mean that we do not matter. The human mind is an amazing thing. We need to use it, to discover and learn, and embrace life.
I am a scientist. I am an innovator. This is what being a Victorian means to me.


What Does It Mean to be a Victorian?

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