Abstract: The Function and Mission of Advertising in the Nineteenth Century

Damayanthie Eluwawalage


Magazine and newspaper advertisements developed into inevitable paraphernalia of the ever-mutating nineteenth century. Of all the classes of media available, the press is regarded as the most potent means of persuasion. The Victorian advertisement exposes materialistic fantasies. It tells of goods that excited the imagination and of mundane realities of everyday life. From about the 1880s, the power of advertising replaced the home produced, locally made production with brand-named, nationally distributed goods. The advertisement became both mirror and instrument of the social ideal. The advertisements would suggest fringes to improve the coiffure, corsets to mould the female figure, baby food that closely resembled human milk in composition, soap that matched the hands and complexion. The gender aspect of the advertisements was significant. The nineteenth-century advertisements, indeed commercial interpretations of the domestic ideology and the commercially idealized feminine appearance, were directed toward women rather than men. The regular advertisements such as fashion advertisements, including elegant apparel, coiffured hair, adorned hair, fine fabrics, variety of packaged/convenience food, and remedial medicines primarily attracted and facilitated female consumers, and revealed the female targeted and subjected cultural/consuming pattern in the nineteenth century.