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Thread: Portrayal of Queen Victoria

  1. #1
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    My D level daughter was quite confused and upset when she finished the first chapter of the Queen Victoria book assigned beginning in wk 13. She says that this chapter portrays Victoria in a negative manner -- that she was a selfish child, that she hated her mother, that she only thought of what was best for her and not what was best for her country when she reigned, that she relied on Lord Melbourne too much, etc. My daughter said that these things certainly didn't line up with the way Victoria is portrayed in the current read aloud (In the Days of Queen Victoria). We talked a little bit about author bias and about how we need to look a varying perspectives to form our own opinions. We also talked about how the only book that we know is 100% reliable is the Bible. But she is having a tough time trying to figure out how both views of Victoria could be correct ("One has to be right and the other wrong, but which is which?"). Does anyone have any resources they'd recommend that we look at to try and sort through this?

    I appreciate it!
    Monica
    "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

  2. #2
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    Some of the issues that your daughter is upset about will come out in later chapters of In the Days of Queen Victoria : her early reliance on Lord Melbourne, her rejection of her mother (to the point of calling another woman mother as I recall). Although it is not addressed directly in the book, you will come to see the stubbornness of Victoria as you read the book. Some people would call this steel and find it a positive quality. She had it in spades and the real question to ask is did she moderate it as she grew older.

    You may also wish to read the first chapter in the Longford biography. I skimmed it since I had not read the book and found that your daughter maybe painting too stark a picture of what it says.

    You may wish to read over a generic entry on Queen Victoria. The wikipedia one here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Victoria may help or a World Book one if you have that.

    In the Days of Queen Victoria was written only four years after she died and as a book for children so some issues involving Victoria don't make it to the book. It is a gentle and admiring look at her. For Instance her son Albert is portrayed as in love with his bride and fades into the background in the book. If you are familiar with his life as heir, you'll know this portrayal is not wholly accurate or at least it leaves an impression of him that isn't quite correct. It is not inaccurate through lies on Tappan's part as much as on what she leaves out. I noticed that when I read it out loud to my children because much is made in the book of her use of another son as her secretary and helper as she got older. I pondered why she didn't use her heir to do this and train him on the job (although he did do some things in that role).

    You want your children to begin to reflect on the impossibility of knowing the exact truth when it comes to events involving humans. There's a nice article here on this problem in historical resources, but the truth is that it exists also in our day to day lives. While it would be easy to say that some people aren't telling the truth, as I get older I have realized that sometimes they are telling the truth as they know it. The problem is they are human and in their own mind events become altered and their internal motivations alter what they remember. (If you are interested, see this book.)
    Pat
    "Of two evils, choose neither."
    Charles H. Spurgeon
    http://www.spurgeon.org/mainpage.htm

  3. #3
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    Thank you, Pat! This is helpful.

    Monica
    "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

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