Victorian Social Stratification Essay Research Paper In
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Victorian Social Stratification Essay, Research Paper In England during the Victorian era, social divisions of class were a major part of people s daily lives. Victorian views on class and of that time s social division in general, are described in great detail by Charles Dickens in many of his novels published during the Victorian period. Dickens Oliver Twist and David Copperfield are two examples of works that tell of the classification between the poor and the wealthy. Through his vivid descriptions, symbolic characters, and dialog spoken, Dickens shows the stratification of people from his time. This essay will describe this stratification, and how Dickens believed that the poor might have been less fortunate, but how most were given a happy ending if their heart was good, and for those who committed evil, would eventually get what they deserved. Many poor, unlucky children during the Victorian period were born in or sent to workhouses, and noted for its opposition to the New Poor Law of 1837, Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, gives detailed accounts of the horrible fates that many young, unfortunate paupers had to face in these places. To refer to this kind of care the workhouse officials gave to the pauper infants, Dickens uses the term farmed to convey how these children were raised. He explains the term further by indicating that the children not only must survive on minimal nourishment, but also be lucky enough to elude additional dangers. Horrid accounts of children being smothered or sickened from neglect or cold, some even burned in fires, are described by Dickens to further emphasize the abuse the poor had to endure simply because it would allow more available food for the officers (Dickens 4). The terms inadvertently and accidentally are strewn throughout this passage to show the reader sarcasm of the accounts, and to hint that often times these incidents were purposely crafted. Dickens then portrays the child s passing as a summoning …into another world, and there gathered to the fathers it had never known in this (Dickens 4). Despite the dismal face that death brings to many, in this statement Dickens expresses how the children would have their happiness after death in a heaven-like place, nothing like the world they were born into at the workhouse. Perhaps Dickens chooses this quote to emphasize death as a passage to a better heavenly place for the paupers, and a more dismal, evil fate for the officers. Another implication of the quote could be in terms of Dickens distaste to the whole system, and how he abhors the ill treatment of the innocent paupers from the god-like officers. Whatever the case, the evil doer was punished by not receiving this heaven-like place after death. In addition to these horrid descriptions of the lives of the poor, Dickens further emphasis stratification by creating his characters symbolically and giving them names that describe their class and or demeanor. This way of creating an artificial name is a typical device of Dickens in many of his novels including David Copperfield, where he further demonstrates the opposing classes of the Victorian era. Edward Murdstone is an example of a more wealthy character in this novel, who by no chance of Dickens, is portrayed as cruel and evil. His name itself is compounded of murder and stone, which are two words depicting his ill disposition. As it turns out in the novel, Murdstone holds true to his name. Not only does he cruelly beat David, but also slowly drives his beloved mother, Clara, to an early grave. Another name that contains hidden meanings that is representative of his class is James Steerforth, a cunning character also found in the novel David Copperfield. However, the fact that David feels goodness toward him for most of the novel, this does not predict the true heart of the crafty Steerforth. In chapter six Steerforth, who is similar in class to David, enters the novel.