Bachelors, spinsters, and old maids might be unable to find partners or unwilling to enter into constrictive partnerships, while widows and widowers negotiated social censure when remarrying.Phegley argues that irregular unions were not uniformly condemned and may have been more acceptable than lifelong single status.Steam-powered cotton factories enabled Victorian Britain to produce more than half the world's supply of cotton.Coal-mining around Newcastle also expanded rapidly to meet demand.Jennifer Phegley explores complicated messages regarding courtship and marriage in the Victorian period that “are supposed to be based on real feelings of affection and love, but . Phegley juxtaposes the pervasive “aspiration to achieve companionate marriage based on mutual affection, respect and love” with the shifting landscape of marital law that exposed the embedded inequalities in marriage (27).
However, in both traditional and alternative relationships, feminists and reformers continued to rely on the companionate ideal as they agitated for equality between romantic partners.
Phegley indicates how massive an undertaking a Victorian wedding could be, contrasting this largesse with the simplicity of working-class rural weddings and growing critiques of the “fashionable” wedding in the press, where critics reasserted the ideal of love over status.
Chapter 5 addresses the people left out of marriage by circumstance or by choice.
Agriculture was slowly being pushed aside for manufacturing jobs.
By the end of the 1800's, 80 percent of England's population lived in cities.