The Gambling References in Victorian Literature

July 27, 2020 Posted in News by No Comments

Before we begin with the details, let us get into some basics.

The Victorian Era is set between the end of the 1830s and the beginning of the 20th century. 

It has impacted England as well as the rest of the world in various ways. 

The Victorian literature became novelistic and started aiming at hidden thoughts and hints, such as ones found in the cultural changes in modern society. 


Let’s begin with the Elizabeth I era, where the lottery was authorized for the very first time.

After they established it, it evolved from being a way for people to divert their attention.

In a way to raise funds for different needs within England as a whole.

men fighting, victorian era

Fast forward about 100 years and Charles II threw the dice himself and lost his 100 pounds.

Soke if the political and the economical changes followed after it.


At the end of the 18th Century, a gambler was defined as someone who expresses his emotions.

In a freeway with the help of some dice and some cards. 

A number of clubs were present at this time where people would go and gamble away without having any housework to burden them.

We see this referenced even at the time of Austen where we can read about the spoiled son that gambles everything that he has.

The horse races or even the impeccable gambling rooms in Bath that can be compared to modern casinos.

The poor were playing low-stakes games while the aristocracy was known as the high-rollers in the city.

In much of the literature at the time, the character portrayed someone who often loses a large sum of money or even his family.

Or even property while ruining relationships with the added twist of some conspiracies, cheating, and death. 

Authors at the time took advantage of the game of luck or skill to portray certain qualities.

These include impulsiveness, overthinking, aggressiveness or calmness, weakness, strength, and so on.

Hardy uses scenes of gambling to portray a picture of a conflict without using banal methods of verbal or physical fights

In order to arrive at the same effect portrayed by the gambling process as a whole.

a group of men around a poker table


This reflects on the reality at the time since men, lovers, wives, and mistresses were often seen at the same tables. 

Gambling debts are also found in the root of all lies.

Authors of these are used gambling and metaphors related to it as a way to depict the society

That is constantly rotting away as well as the corruption and faults within a sphere.

Some of the writers used implying a certain level of compassion to the characters that are written with gambling. 

Many authors of the Victorian era depict it as a sin, as a vice that contrasted the desired social culture within the rational and prestigious circles.

The one thing that could make even the most prestigious man turn to his bad side.

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