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Child Labour In British Literature Essay

1361 words - 6 pages

Child labour in British Literature

Child labour is very popular topic and motif in British Literature. Many famous
authors base their novels on this term. Industrialisation led to a dramatic increase in
child labour. Children were working in factories and mines what was very exhausted and
dangerous. Child labour was not an invention of the Industrial Revolution. Poor children have
always started work as soon as their parents could find employment for them. But in much of
pre-industrial Britain, there simply was not very much work available for children. This
changed with industrialisation. The new factories and mines were hungry for workers and
required the execution of ...view middle of the document...

These
children were exploited and lived a meager existence that was socially acceptable at the time.
Blake voices the evils of this acceptance through point of view, symbolism, and his startling
irony. Blake expresses his poem in first person, as a young chimney sweeper. This gives his
poetic voice creditability because the subject of the poem is chimney sweepers. In addition,
using first person creates a deeper sense of sympathy in the reader. This young boy, the poetic
voice, lost his mother while “[he] was very young'; (554). Soon after the loss of his
mother“[his] father sold [him] while yet [his] tongue/ Could scarcely cry ‘ ‘weep! ‘weep!‘
weep! ‘weep!’'; (554). This sympathy allows the reader to realize not only how these children
lived, but also how they felt and how they were deprived of their childhood. The children, the
sweepers, play in meadows and wash and shine; they become pure, regain their innocence.
Then, “naked and white”, they rise up to Heaven. The Angel tells Tom “ if he'd be a good
boy, he'd have God for his father, & never want joy”, clearly referring to Heaven. Tom
awakes, and returns to reality: cold, work, darkness. Yet Tom is “happy & warm”: “if all do
their duty, they need not fear harm.” He has hope; perhaps ultimately the hope to die soon.
The plate Blake carved for his first Chimney Sweeper is sky-blue, with the thin shadows of
little children walking up to Heaven: children whose souls are leaving for a better good. The
overall tone is idealistic and hopeful, yet with an underlying taste of crude reality; more of a
nuisance than a tragedy. This poem offers sharp criticism of the child labor that was common
at the time. A child should be learning and playing, not working in a labor-intensive career.
Dickens could foresee how child labour would gradually be a part of a social disorder
and finally culminate into a social curse through centuries. He could foresee what curse evils
such as „child labour‟ could bring to society. It could only lead to the degradation and
indignity of humanity. He successfully portrays the sufferings of little children in 19th century
Britain. Child workers appeared in several other Dickens novels, most memorably in the form
of Oliver Twist. Oliver Twist is a novel by  Charles Dickens  which was published  in 1838.
Oliver twist appeared at Victorian era. Exploitation of child is issue in Oliver Twist. In the
novel Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens describes the life in the workhouses.  Oliver was born in
workhouses. His mother, whose name no one knows is found on the street and dies just after
Oliver's birth. Oliver spends the first nine years of his life in a badly run home for young
orphans and then is transferred to a workhouse for adults. Here Oliver and other child employ
with hard considerably in factory. They are given some eat and treaded without good.
Nevertheless, workhouses council that have responsible to take...

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