Weird History

16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work 

Garri Chaverst
Updated January 16, 2020 3.5k votes 643 voters 12.8k views 16 items

List Rules Vote up the fire 19th-century clapbacks you'd retweet today.

It's easy to understand why many assume the Victorian era was all business and no play. They had a morbid fascination with death and appeared to rarely smile in their portraits. Though most evidence seemingly points to the notion that Victorian life was just as colorless as the photos from that period, it would be a huge disservice to the people who lived during that time to believe they had no sense of humor. Not only were they funny, either, but some Victorians also were downright savage.

The wry cleverness of Victorians is put on full display in the works of literature from the period. As evidenced by the quotes below, female writers from the era never missed an opportunity to slip a burn against the patriarchy into their work. 

Like 18th-century slang, these Victorian insults reveal people in history were perhaps more relatable than we expected.

1
"Marriage, they say... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"Marriage, they say, halves one's rights and doubles one's duties.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 

2
Charlotte Mary Yonge is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work

Charlotte M. Yonge, The Heir Of Redclyffe

3
"Blessed is the man... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”

George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such 

4
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
5
"She would have des... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"She would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men. Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior.”

Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford 

6
”You don't understand wo... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
”You don't understand women. They don't admire you half so much as you admire yourselves.”

George Eliot, Middlemarch 

7
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
8
Margaret Oliphant Olipha... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"He was highly spoken of, everybody knew; but nobody knew who had spoken highly of him.”

Margaret Oliphant, The Rector 

9
Louisa May Alcott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"Better be happy old maids than unhappy wives or unmaidenly girls running about to find husbands.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 

10
Frances Harper is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
11
"Mama, the more I k... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"Mama, the more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love.”

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

12
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
13
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
14
"His remaining a ba... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"His remaining a bachelor will usually depend on her resolution rather than on his.”

George Eliot, Middlemarch 

15
"What are men to ro... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
"What are men to rocks and mountains?”

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice 

16
“When a man is brilliant... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 16 Times Victorian Women Slipped Savage Burns Against The Patriarchy Into Their Work
“When a man is brilliant there is always a doubt in some minds whether he is trustworthy, or sincere, or to be relied upon; but an ordinary commonsense sort of talker is free from such suspicion.”

Margaret Oliphant, Miss Marjoribanks