Nameless and Friendless
Lynn Nead notes the rigid social boundaries for working-class women in Victorian England:
“Attitudes to working-class women were highly contradictory. Whilst on the one hand they were believed to be unnatural and unfeminine as a result of work outside the domestic sphere, on the other hand there was an attempt to bring the masses into accord with bourgeois morality – a process of social colonialization which produced a particular working-class version of the feminine ideal. After all, social stability had to be perceived at all levels of society and this necessitated a role model for the working-class wife. The working-class model was defined in terms of her piety, thrift and conscientiousness, but above-all, she could not display aspirations above her class in either her personal or domestic adornment.”
Lynn Nead, “The Magdalen in Modern Times: The Mythology of the Fallen Woman in Pre-Raphaelite Painting,” Oxford Art Journal, vol. 7, no. 1 (1984): 29.