What do you and Queen Victoria have in common? You both go through stages of life that help define your personality. To prove this I compared her different life events to Erikson’s theories on the different stages of life. From adolescence to old age, there is evidence that Erikson’s lifespan theories correlate with the life events of Queen Victoria. Through adolescence Victoria has always know that she would become queen. She always knew her sense of identity. Through early adulthood she creates close relationships and even establishes an intimate one. Victoria becomes good friends with the Prime Minister Melbourne and marries her husband Prince Albert. As middle adulthood comes around Victoria leans towards the negative outcomes of Erikson’s theory. The death of her husband shakes her emotionally contributing to her life she questions her activities and lives this stage of her life in private. When Victoria reaches the stage of old age she now begins to come out of the shadows and enjoys her last years as monarch and relishes in her accomplishments. All in all, Victoria’s stages of life correlate with Erikson’s theories. Even though she was the queen of the British Empire she still goes through the same life stages as you and me.
Queen Victoria was the longest reigning monarch before being beaten out by the current reigning queen, Queen Elizabeth II. During her reign she had witnessed many changes in politics and innovation. With all political leaders, personal life is often something that is kept private. Victoria was known as being a very strong and stubborn person. Through her childhood into her adulthood Victoria has had to overcome many of life‘s obstacles. Instead of focusing on biological lineage and social diplomacy, I chose to focus on a more personal level with Queen Victoria’s life span. With help from her diary and many sources from British history, I would like to talk about Queen Victoria’s personality development. From adolescence to her time of death Victoria’s personality is definitely system thing that stands out in the history books. I would like to explain why and how her pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors came to be.
Queen Victoria’s Adolescence
Through a very complicated rule of lineage and legitimacy, Queen Victoria was the only living in legitimate person in line to rule England. After her father passed away in her early childhood, there were only a few people around her that she was close to. It is also described in the article that Queen Victoria’s childhood was defined as being “increasingly unhappy”. Through manipulation, her mother and her mother’s advisor, Sir John Convoy, intended to hold a strong grasp on the future monarch. In an article by Edgar Trevor Williams and Meredith Veldman (2019), “persuaded by Conroy that the royal dukes, ‘the wicked uncles,’ posed a threat to her daughter, the duchess reared Victoria according to ‘the Kensington system,’ by which she and Conroy systematically isolated Victoria from her contemporaries and her father’s family.” (Lineage and Early Life, para. 2). Sir Conroy and her mother intended to have complete control of Victoria by limiting the people she talk with as well as who influenced her every day thinking. Only just turned eighteen, Victoria had gotten the news that her uncle King William VI had died during the night. By morning, Victoria turned from princess to queen. With her new claim to power and freedom Queen Victoria still never forgot her unfortunate childhood. In the article by Edgar Trevor Williams and Meredith Veldman (2019), “Her mother’s actions had estranged her from Victoria and taught the future queen caution in her friendships. Moreover, her retentive memory did not allow her to forgive readily.” (Lineage and Early Life, para. 4). Her identity who is controlled for so long that she didn’t want her new title to be influenced by her past.
Adolescence: Erikson’s Identity versus Identity Confusion Theory
By the age of ten, Victoria knew the importance of her existence. Erikson had a theory during this time of life called the stage of identity versus identity confusion. Adolescences during this age are essentially trying to figure out who they are. During this stage of life, it is common for people to experiment and explore. By the age of eighteen, Victoria no longer had time to explore different things or stop the responsibilities from coming her way. She was the queen. She had one of the most important and influential positions of all. With anyone in line for any royal throne, it was unheard of you would decline your position in line. I’m sure that anyone in line for the throne has probably imagined a life as a commoner. People always question the possibility of the “what ifs”. I am sure in Victoria’s early years as queen many people have found Victoria’s identity was always the future queen of England.
Queen Victoria’s Early Adulthood
With Victoria’s new responsibility as queen she developed a new found happiness with her new life. In an article by Ellie Cawthorne (2019),”’I shall ever remember this day as the proudest of my life’ she recorded in her diary.” (Young Princess Becomes Queen, para. 4). Her new title as queen made her life more exciting and enjoyable. She became good friends with a man named Lord Melbourne who was the Prime Minister or England at the time. When a new prime mister was elected Victoria was asked to change her ladies in waiting since they were good friends with the previous prime minster. Quite silly but in the 1800s the people that were around you, Victoria’s ladies in waiting, were definitely a loud statement of your political views. Victoria grew thick skin because of her heavily controlled childhood and refused any forced obligations from the new Prime Minister. Along with being a new head of monarchy, Victoria also become a bride. At the age of twenty, Victoria married Prince Albert who was he Prince of numerous German states. In many diary entries that Victoria had made she described a deep love and admiration for Albert. Again, I’m an article by Ellie Cawthorne (2019), “Although the couple had blazing arguments, Victoria clearly adored her husband, describing him in her diary as ‘perfection in every way … oh how I adore and love him’.” (Victoria Marries Prince Albert, para. 3). Victoria and Albert had nine children together and Albert became a significant figure in Victoria’s political life as well.
Early Adulthood: Erikson’s Intimacy versus Isolation Theory
You would think that since queen Victoria had a very isolated childhood, away from any real social contact, that she herself would want to be isolated as well. In Erikson’s sixth stage of his theory it is stated that you either are developing close and intimate relationships or have a fear for them. You would think that Victoria would fear forming close relationships with others. Strangely, the opposite happened. Victoria became good friends with Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, as well as a few other people in her court. Not only did she make friends but she also developed an intimate and loving relationship. The relationship with Victoria and Albert is described to be somewhat of a fairytale. Imagine, Victoria locked up and isolated from all of society only to be released when it was her time to take the crown. While only a short time reigning, Victoria meets Albert and they fall in love. Victoria longed for any close relationship because of how socially deprived she was as a child. Having a romantic and intimate relationship was definitely something that she deeply appreciated.
Queen Victoria’s Middle Adulthood
Just as she crossed over the age of 42, Victoria went through a horrible set of events. Prince Albert, at 42, had unexpectedly died from Typhoid Fever. In Ellie Cawthorne’s article (2019), “Unable to control her grief, the queen (whose mother had also died earlier the same year) withdrew from public life.” (Albert Dies, para. 2). Not only was Victoria shattered but also sunk into a deep depression. Her state of sadness even got her the name of “The Widow of Windsor”. Since Albert was such a big influence on Victoria’s political activity, she grew uneasy and where she stood with the feuding political powers in parliament. Along with the numerous changes in politics, Britain was also expanding its empire and soon even gain control of India. As time went on in Victoria kept her life more private and, for the next few decades of her life, dealt with the different wars and conquest by herself.
Middle Adulthood: Erikson’s Generatively versus Stagnation Theory
In Erikson’s seventh stage of his lifespan theory it is stated as being the stage of generatively versus stagnation. In this stage of life, Victoria change her trend of developing positive outcomes into negative outcomes. Instead of having a sense of contribution to the continuity of life Victoria questioned her everyday social activities. This was because of that horrible year of not only losing her mother but also the love of her life. Losing Albert shook Victoria to the core. The queen withdrew herself from society and even turned down many of her royal duties. She was heartbroken. It is said that Victoria was in continuous mourning of Albert and wore black mostly all the time and had his clothes laid out every day as if he was still with her to get ready in the morning. She was in deep sadness and grew extremely stubborn with anything and everything. She became cold and she kept this new sense of persona for the rest of her life.
Queen Victoria’s Late Adulthood
Nearing old age, Victoria finally began to come out of hiding. In her time, she was the longest reigning monarch in history. During her gold and diamond Jubilee, she began to gain favor in the people of England again. Crowds of hundreds of thousands we’re out parading in the incredible milestone the monarchy had made. During her diamond Jubilee Victoria had been on the throne through sixty years and was well into her late seventies. In Ellie Cawthorne’s article, “During a royal procession to St Paul’s Cathedral, Victoria was reportedly so overwhelmed by the cheering crowds that she burst into tears.” (The Nation Celebrates Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, para. 2). She also got her interest in foreign affairs and grew interest in learning about the languages and cultures of the new territories that Britain was conquering. It is said that when Britain had gained control of India, she enjoy the day she was given the title “Empress of India”. Victoria kept British power close to home as well by marrying most of her children off to other royal bloodlines of Europe. On her final days, Victoria was still greatly involved in political activities as well as bestowing medals to soldiers that came back from wars fighting for more of English territory. Victoria life just crossed the milestone of the 1900s. Victoria died on January 22, 1901 from a hemorrhagic stroke. She was 81.
Late Adulthood: Erikson’s Ego Integrity versus Despair Theory
Erikson’s last theory of lifespan is called the ego integrity versus despair. This theory is described as someone to either having a sense of peace of life‘s accomplishments or regretting the lost opportunities. It seems as though Victoria realize that her life was being wasted away hiding away from public life. Instead of morning her world is she took advantage of what life still had to offer. She was a great grandmother already and she had outlived every monarch before her. She enjoyed contributing more to her public appearances and, even in her old age, loves to learn about the new territories that Britain had taken over. It was as if she was wanted to learn and live as much as she could until it was her time to go. In her death she had left an incredible legacy behind. A majority of her children being married into almost half of Europe’s royal families and the British Empire touching numerous parts of the globe. Queen Victoria has accomplished many things in her life and I’m sure she knew she had as well.
Queen Victoria definitely I had a life like no other but still experience a different challenges that every human being endures in different stages of her life. From trying to figure out where she stood as a young sovereign to basking in life’s accomplishments, Victoria definitely has lived a life that history will recalls for many years to come. The different events in her life have definitely shaped how her personality was. From the struggles of a heavily controlled childhood to the loss of her husband, she has had to overcome many of life’s trials and tribulations. She may have been the Queen of the British Empire but at the end of the day she is something that we all share in common. A human being.
- Veldman, M., & Williams, E. T. (2019, April 05). Victoria Queen of United Kingdom. Retrieved April, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Victoria-queen-of-United-Kingdom
- Cawthorne, E. (2019, April 10). 7 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Queen Victoria. Retrieved April, 2019, from https://www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/queen-victoria-facts-life-children-prince-albert-husband-marriage-reign/
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