Middle Class

A.k.A. The Bourgeoisie

In the middle class, men are expected to take up a trade or business that will keep the family in good repute and keep their dependents in the manner to which they are accustomed. Doctor, lawyer, military officer and businessman can considered satisfactory occupations. However, the advent of the Industrial Revolution has elevated many middle class people to a wealth rivaling, and even surpassing, that of the upper classes. Many factory owners command wealth in excess of their "betters", and are often better at keeping hold of it, as well (they are often practical, hard-working men who would willingly sell their country houses if it saved them money). They are less hidebound by tradition that the upper classes, and are flexible enough to weather, or even embrace, the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution.

The middle classes also include educated people who are not members of the gentry. This is particularly true of semi-professionals such as writers, journalists and schoolteachers. Many of these individuals are responsible for the vibrant counter-culture that exists, although it is often suppressed, throughout Europe. Others, such as Charles Dickens, have become household names. Ironically enough, Imperialist Britain is home and refuge to many of these writers (both Marx and Engels, bourgeois themselves, did most of their writing in London).

Women of the middle class are expected to marry and produce an heir as soon as possible, just like those of the upper classes. A woman is also responsible for the house and home accounts. Some young women hold positions as clerks and secretaries, but the common view of the bourgeoisie is that it is brutal to make a woman work in such a manner. The main exception to this rule are those who take service in India, either as Crown or East India Company servants. Women find it very hard to be taken seriously at running their own business, unless it is considered 'appropriate' such as shop keeping or dress making. However, those who are successful earn the respect they deserve eventually.

The opportunities in the colonies attract plenty of the middle classes (both men and women) into a life abroad. The power wielded by the "highest caste" of India is one that could only be dreamed of by the upper classes at home, and the wealth of these "white rajahs" (even Crown servants) is far in excess of their equivalents at home. Freed from some of the social norms they are used to and great autonomy over their holdings, plenty of colonial English get a taste for the wealth and power so easily found on foreign soil.

An increasingly common vocation amongst the lower middle classes is missionary work. This is a comparatively recent phenomenon as, in the earliest days of the empire, the administration tended to find Aluminat churches for the colonists and left the natives alone. However, the 18th century preacher, John Wesley, founded the evangelical puritan movement (usually shortened to evangelical), which preached the virtue of hard work, keeping Sunday as holy, the doctrine of temperance, and the moral superiority of the white man. Often these men and women lack secondary education, let alone the higher education required for the clergy yet they willingly journey out to the furthest reaches of Asia, Africa and the Pacific to convert the heathen. They are frequently at odds with the imperial administration, partly through snobbery about their often humble origin and partly because their evangelism (frequently fanaticism) can stir natives up to the point of revolt.

Resources

The middle class do not have the huge resources of the upper classes, but they are not poor, and often have enough money to employ servants within their homes. A typical middle class man could afford a family home, where any dependents will stay. As a middle class family does not usually have the resources to maintain a second home, the costs of any lodgings for their grown up children are their own responsibility. A single man would usually rent a flat, possibly shared. The master of the house usually runs his abode on between three pounds, five shillings and sixpence and fifteen pounds a week, from which comes food, clothes, servants' wages, mortgage, allowance for dependents and so forth. A typical family house will have one housekeeper or butler and one maid or footman.

A male dependent will usually receive between 10 shillings and one pound a week to spend on leisure activities. Female dependents will not receive an allowance; they are not expected to have an independent life that necessitates an income of their own.

Ethics

If the upper classes own the world, then the middle classes run it. They have maintained their status by innovation, hard work and, often, a little luck.

  • Money? Money makes the world go round; the discussion of its use is always of interest.
  • Education? Education is a wonderful thing, but most women are too frail to deal with a full education.
  • Other classes? The upper classes gave you or your predecessors the initial backing to obtain the wealth that you now possess; they may have a heritage, but your family supports itself now and lives just as well as you need. The lower classes live in squalor. It is shameful to see, and if any struck you as honest then you would gladly help them out of the gutter as best you could.
  • Religion? You always attend church, the Aluminat preaching is very important to you, for you it defines civilization.
  • Marriage? Marriages are usually arranged; most consider marriage to be a sacred institution, not to be taken lightly. The most important things for a middle class marriage are the prospects of the husband to be and the dowry that can be provided by the bride's father.
  • Honor? Honor is an idea to be respected and adhered to.