AQA English Lit - Theme: Industry

Overview of context (A04) and links to wider reading (A03) for the theme of Industry.

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  • Created on: 14-05-13 16:06
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Industry within the Victorian Era
Between 1820 and 1850, six thousand miles of railways were established in Britain. The
railway era was an advanced phase of industrialisation and affected the life of the ordinary
citizen, rather than just those within the industry. It reached into remote areas of the
countryside, as well as the centres of some of the greatest cities. It allowed for greater and
easier transportation, which means small businesses grew in size. People were able to
move from one place to another easier and more quickly revealing the extent of the
possibilities industry could have.
Ruskin was angered over the effect the railways were having on the countryside, to the extent
that he published a satirical poem in a newspaper, arguing against the building of railways in
the Peak District.
Poor Law Amendment Act
Outdoor relief is one of the forms of poor relief, prior to the Poor Law Amendment Act where
people would be given a `dole' of money and remain in their own homes. The aged and sick
were looked after in hospitals, almshouses, poor houses or in their own homes. Orphans
were looked after in orphanages.
The Poor Law Amendment Act has been described as a complete replacement of the
Elizabethan Poor Law act, the main change was the introduction of the workhouses. Anyone
claiming relief would have to enter the `house' and if a man tried to claim relief, then his entire
family would have to go to the workhouses, they would be split up in accordance with the
rules of separation.
During this time period, an existing economic downturn worsened and therefore
unemployment drastically rose. This meant that the Poor Law Guardians (men in each
country who were supposed to enforce the law) had problems enforcing this law.
A number of wealthy and upper class people opposed the inhumanity of the poor law,
denouncing the act as `cruel, unchristian and dictatorial'. They believed the people in the
workhouses were being treated poorly and cruelties were inflicted upon them. For those in
Wales, resistance was mainly because of the dislike of control by central government.
Parliament's attitudes towards the poor are fairly negative, treating the poor cruelly. They
believe that the poor have bought their lack of money upon themselves and are effectively
being `punished' for it. If it is nonChristian, then they aren't treating the poor as human

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The workhouses were built just before the Victorian Era in 1834 when the poor law was
introduced, so was the introduction of workhouses which were legalised only in England and
Wales. It wasn't until 1838, when workhouses were extended to Ireland and 1845 for
Scotland.…read more

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The Railroad Station by Thomas Egerton Wilks - "whistle of the engine is heard;
...Well, I declare, it almost takes one's breath away to look at it!"
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde ­ "My name is Jack in the country
and Earnest in the town."
The Cry of the Children by Elizabeth Barratt Browning - "Or, all day, we drive the
wheels of iron / In the factories, round and round.…read more


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