College Papers

Victorian Era was a great change to the society that we are living in now

Victorian Era was a great change to the society that we are living in now. This is due to the spectacular amount of discoveries made. However the way they were living and surviving is still remarkable. In 19th century , there was no building regulations hence why there was so many back to back houses, since they were cheaper to build which would lead to more profit for the builders. An increase in back to back houses meant the streets would be very narrow, this lead to people believing that cholera was caused by the poor living conditions. The living conditions were so poor that one whole family could be huddled into a single room with ill- ventilation and only heaps of straw serving for beds. Webster (1993) stated how ‘the environment in which the poor lived was so physically degraded ‘as to pose a greater threat to society than ‘the moral’ (or political position) of the poor’. Sanitation in Victorian Britain was minimal. Families and those living together or within close quarters would be sharing a toilet, and usually these were not emptied, or they were emptied in the streets as sewage was poor. Typically, hands would not be washed after using the toilet either, which lead to the spread of infectious bacteria. Miasma is a cloud of vapour that was thought to have caused diseases , which could have supposedly been recognised by it’s smell of decomposition. The theory states that illnesses would come from breathing in the miasma, so it was a form of ‘bad air’, this would explain the reason why many people believed that it would only occur in filthy areas. In Soho there a cholera outbreak in August 1854, Snow used a map to plot all the cases of cholera. This way as a source of the disease, he was able to identify a water pump on Broad street. As soon as he removed the handle of the pump, cholera cases started decreasing. Due to the use of public pump and spread of cholera, he was able to recognise the cause. A BBC documentary on health in Victorian Britain concluded how the average life expectancy for working class in Manchester was only 17 years and for upper class was 38 years old. Furthermore 31,000 people, ended up dying in Manchester due to the cholera outbreak. Most of these people were apart of the working class, the high amount of deaths could have been a result of lack of food , uncleanliness and overcrowding of homes. Engel (1845) called attention to the poor dieting of those living in Manchester at the time. Since there was no selling on Sundays , people of lower classes would have to eat what they had brought which usually would have gone off by the time they had came to eat it. Marx stated to the parliamentary committee of 1855 that due to adulterations, ‘the poor men who lived on two pounds of bread a day did not take in one fourth of that amount of nutrition.’ It was thought that there was two main reasons behind why food and drink were adulterated ; in order to make products seem more attractive to customers , for example adding chalk to milk was to increase its whiteness. The second reason was in order to increase bulk. This could have potentially lead to the result of at least twenty or thirty persons having had died of simple starvation under the most revolting circumstances. As a result of the way that health was in the Victorian Era, our housing and living conditions, sanitation and air quality, life expectancy and mortality rates and diet and exercise regimes are now vastly improved. This can be seen to be improved by John Snow, who managed to improve the health of the general public