Discuss some of the social changes in 19th century Britain which Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens wrote about.
Social changes in 19th century Britain highlighted by Thomas Hardy are
(i) Due to industrialisation, peasants who toiled with their lands were disappearing as large or big farmers enclosed lands, bought machines and employed labourers to produce for the market. Mechanisation of agriculture displaced farmers and led to exodus of rural population into cities in search of alternate employment.
(ii) In his novel ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge,’ Hardy mourns the loss of the more personalised world which is being replaced by a more efficiently managed urban culture.
Social changes highlighted by Charles Dickens are
(i) Charles Dickens wrote mainly about the emergence of the industrial age and its effect on society and the common people. Through his novels Hard Times and Oliver Twist, Dickens gave an insight into the darker side of industrialisation and its impact on English society.
(ii) Growth of factories and expanded cities led to the growth of business and economy and increased the profits of capitalists.
(iii) At the same time, workers faced immense problems. Use of machines resulted in unemployment of ordinary labour. They became homeless, creating the problem of housing for them. Pursuit of profit became the goal of factory owners, while the workers were undervalued and almost lost their identity. Human beings were reduced to being mere instruments of production,
(iv) In his novel, Oliver Twist, Dickens drew
attention to the horrible conditions of the shelter homes in England. Oliver was a poor orphan who lived in a world of petty criminals and beggars. Dickens focussed on the miserable conditions of urban life under industrial capitalism.