ERIC Number: ED219759
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Four Writers' Views of the English Working Class: The Significance of the Novel in Creating Reality.
An analysis of four writers' portrayals of nineteenth and early twentieth century working class life reveals a progression of political thought about the treatment of people's struggles to effectively change society. In Dickens'"Hard Times" (1854), the protagonist is a martyr-saint who finds solace in subduing his anger and continuing to bear the oppression of his class. In "Felix Holt, the Radical" (1866), George Eliot's protagonists represent her contempt for the uselessness of the upper classes and belief that change must occur. The author does not demand the elimination of poverty to improve society. The ruling class's behavior is to be emulated, not their acquisition of material goods. In "The Nether World" of George Gissing (1889), disease, filth, and chaos intensify the constant and utterly inescapable tension of scrounging for money to buy food and fuel. Death is an anticipated release. Robert Tressall's protagonist in "The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropist" allows the authors to present the values of socialism in the reality of the workers' world, which validates the need for dramatic social change. The views that these authors present about the exemplary worker range from saintly, accepting martyr; conservative Radical moralist; resigned, nihilistic artist-artisan; to rational, socialist teacher-activist. The authors write during a period when there is no question as to the moral, instructive, humanizing function of literature. Teachers need to demonstrate these political implications of literature to students so their reading and overall learning become more fully conscious processes. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Dickens (Charles); Eliot (George); England; Gissing (George); Tressall (Robert)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the College English Association (13th, Houston, TX, April 15-17, 1982).