Chapter 18: Industrial Revolution

First Thoughts

The industrial revolution saw a multitude of inventions and a change in the social mindset that would alter a West just moving on after the years of Napoleon. There are countless things we can say about this time period, but the first one that comes to my mind is the issue of child labor in that period. It was a controversial issue at the time and the textbook even references the child workforce as reaching “endemic” proportions. It had its proponents, but also went under an arduous process of reform. And whenever I think of children working in factories during the Industrial Revolution, I can’t help but look to Oliver Twist and the subsequent plays and films it inspired. Written by Charles Dickens, the renowned British author, the book was a social commentary when it was published in a magazine series between 1837 and 1839. It touched upon the relevant topics of the time, such as: “parental neglect”, poor factory conditions, child labor, criminal street urchins, and the new concepts of identity in a world of changing class structures, among other things.

While presenting an appropriately somber mood for the tale, I still prefer the musical film version, Oliver!.

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Online Source: When is a Book Not a Book? Oliver Twist in Context by Robert L. Patten

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