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Workers of the industrial era
During the whole Victorian age, most people hade to work inhumanly much. In 1833, the average man working in factories had to spend fifteen of the twenty four hours in the day working for their employees. They had two hours of eating time per day, and all they ate was potatoes and bread, which didn’t give them much energy and encouragement to proceed with their work. For the average Englishman it was a working day, and a very hard one indeed.
Their working conditions
Because of the extreme amount of time spent working, many workers got very tired and exhausted. They made to little money to get some really good, proper food which could have given them some more energy.
The places they worked weren’t clean either. The worksites were dirty and brought much noise and pollution to the workers. They worked on dangerous machines which could easily cut a mans hand off, and this sort of working accidents happened a lot. It was no good to ask your boss for some hours off, because if you gave any sign of discomfort or being tired, he would fire you at once without any warnings. No one dared to strike, because they had too much respect and fear for their bosses.
A difficult life
The workers in the big cities had a very tough and challenging life. Their day at work started at four in the morning and didn’t end until eleven in the evening, nineteen hours later. They had very little to come home to, because most workers lived with their families in dirty, small houses. They had four or five days of holidays throughout the whole year. To escape from their problems, many workers drank very large amounts of alcohol the few hours they were not at work. As in any job, the workers could be unfortunate enough to break something. Then their employees would beat them up, so that they would think twice before breaking something again.
A Better Society
One courageous industrial was Robert Owen. The goals he worked very hard to achieve was getting better houses for the workers and providing them with a better salary so their children could have a good education. The workers who were rich received help at once when they had accidents or were sick, while no one would do anything to help the poor workers who didn’t have any money. But people had sympathy for the poor workers, and in the middle of the nineteenth century, broke workers received money and assistance from sensitive people, just trying to help. They were creating a better society. After this, work went easier because machines took over most of the work, and people didn’t have to work as hard as they had done earlier.
The Victorian age (1837-1901) was a period of enormous technological progress in communications, transport and many other areas of life.
The vivid picture of the Victorian age unfolds as inventions from the ground-breaking such as aspirin, dynamite, and the telephone to everyday things like blue jeans and tiddlywinks are revealed decade by decade. Together they provide a vivid picture of Victorian life.
The lives of the inventors and their circumstances provide entertaining insights into this world. For example, Almon Strowger invented the automatic telephone exchange as he was convinced that telephone operators were giving his business to a rival firm of undertakers.
The Ritty brothers designed a cash register to prevent the bartenders they employed from cheating them. And Adalbert Kwiatkowski, among many Victorians preoccupied with the risk of premature burial, invented a coffin that would sound an alarm upon the slightest movement of an apparently dead body.
Charles Dickens and the Brontë Sisters
Charles Dickens was born in Landport, Hampshire, during the new industrial age, which gave birth to theories of Karl Marx. Dickens's father was a clerk in the navy pay office. He was well paid but often ended in financial troubles. In 1814 Dickens moved to London, and then to Chatham, where he received some education. The schoolmaster William Giles gave special attention to Dickens, who made rapid progress. In 1824, at the age of 12, Dickens was sent to work for some months at a blacking factory, Hungerford Market, London, while his father John was in Marshalea debtor's prison. "My father and mother were quite satisfied," Dickens later recalled bitterly. "They could hardly have been more so, if I had been twenty years of age, distinguished at a grammar-school, and going to Cambridge." Later this period found its way to the novel LITTLE DORRITT (1855-57). John Dickens paid his £40 debt with the money he inherited from his mother; she died at the age of seventy-nine when he was still in prison.
Dickens and the women
Dickens's relationship with Maria Beadnell, the daughter of a banker, whom he had courted for four years, ended in 1833. Three years later Dickens married Catherine Hogart, the daughter of his friend George Hogarth, who edited the newly established Evening Chronicle. With Catherine he had 10 children. They separated in 1858. Some biographers have suspected that Dickens was more fond of Catherine's sister, Mary, who moved into their house and died in 1837 at the age of 17 in Dickens's arms. Eventually she became the model for Dora Copperfield. Dickens also wanted to be buried next to her and wore Mary's ring all his life. Another of Catherine's sisters, Georgiana, moved in with the Dickenses, and the novelist fell in love with her. Dickens also had a long liaison with the actress Ellen Ternan, whom he had met by the late 1850s.
Dickens lived in 1844-45 in Italy, Switzerland and Paris, and from 1860 one his address was at Gadshill Place, near Rochester, Kent, where he lived with his two daughters and sister-in-law. He had also other establishments - Gad's Hill, and Windsor Lodge, Peckham, which he had rented for Ellen Ternan. His wife Catherine lived at the London house. In 1858-68 Dickens gave lecturing tours in Britain and the United States. By the end of his last American tour, Dickens could hardly manage solid food, subsisting on champagne and eggs beaten in sherry.
In an opium den in Shadwell, Dickens saw an elderly pusher known as Opium Sal, who then featured in his mystery novel THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. He collapsed at Preston, in April 1869, after which his doctors put a stop to his public performances. Dickens died at Gadshill on suddenly of a stroke on June 8, 1870. Some of his friends later thought the readings killed him. Dickens had asked that he should be buried "in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner".
Well known works
- SKETCHES BY BOZ, 1836
- THE POSTHUMOUS PAPERS OF THE PICKWICK CLUB, 1836-37
- THE ADVENTURES OF OLIVER TWIST, 1837-39 –
- THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, 1838-39
- THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP, 1841
- BARNABY RUDGE, 1841
- AMERICAN NOTES, 1842
- THE CHRISTMAS CARROL, 1843 -
- THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT, 1843-44
- THE CHIMES, 1845 –
- THE CRICKET ON THE HEART, 1846 -
- PICTURES FROM ILTALY, 1846
- DOMBEY AND SON, 1848
- DAVID COPPERFIELD, 1849 –
- A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND, 1851-53
- BLEAK HOUSE, 1853
- HARD TIMES, 1854
- LITTLE DORRITT, 1855-57 –
- THE TALE OF TWO CITIES, 1859 –
- THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER, 1860
- REPRINTED PIECES, 1861
- GREAT EXPECTATIONS, 1861
- OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, 1865
- THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, 1870
- SPEECHES, LETTERS AND SAYINGS, 1870
- COLLECTED WORKS EDITIONS:
- TO BE READ AT DUSK, 1898
- MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS, 1908
- CHARLES DICKENS'S UNCOLLECTED WRITINGS FROM HOUSEHOLD WORDS, 1970
- THE SUPERNATURAL SHORT STORIES OF CHARLES DICKENS,
- A DECEMBER VISION, 1986
- DICKENS'S JOURNALISM, vol. I, 1993
- DICKENS'S JOURNALISM, vol. 2, 1997
- THE LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS, 1965-2002
The Brontë Sisters: Charlotte
Charlotte Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire in 1816, and she was the third daughter of Patrick Brontë, a clergyman of Irish descent. Her mother was Maria Branwell of Penzance, Cornwall. They moved to Haworth in 1820 when Patrick Brontë was made perpetual curate. After the death of Charlotte's mother in 1821, her mother's sister, Elizabeth, came to look after the family, and the children, five daughters and one son, were left with a solitary father, a disciplinarian aunt and only each other for company.
In 1824, the four eldest girls were sent to Cowan Bridge School which Charlotte recreated as Lowood in Jane Eyre.
Its poor conditions hastened the deaths of Maria and Elizabeth (who died from tuberculosis in the same year) and damaged Charlotte's health permanently.
The time Charlotte spent at her second school, Roehead, between Leeds and Huddersfield, was far happier.
She later returned as a teacher but gave up the post to set up her own school at Haworth with Emily. To acquire further qualifications the two sisters visited the Pensioned Hooger in Brussels where Charlotte fell hopelessly in love with M. Hooger, later satirized in Villette. Her first novel, The Professor, was rejected, but she went on to write Jane Eyre, which is her true claim to greatness.
Charlotte refused three offers of marriage but in 1854 she consented to marry her father's curate, A. B. Nicholls. The marriage, however, was short-lived for the following year Charlotte died from an illness associated with pregnancy.
Emily Brontë was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, in the north of England. Her father, Patrick Brontë, had moved from Ireland to Weatherfield, in Essex, where he taught in Sunday school as a reverend. Eventually he settled in Yorkshire, the centre of his life's work. In 1812 he married Maria Branwell of Penzance. Patrick Brontë loved poetry, he published several books of prose and verse and wrote to local newspapers. In 1820 he moved to Hawort, a poverty-stricken little town at the edge of a large tract of moorland, where he served as a rector and chairman of the parish committee.
In 1835 Emily Brontë was at Roe Head. There she suffered from homesickness and returned after a few months to the moorland scenery of home. In 1837 she became a governess at Law Hill, near Halifax, where she spent six months. Emily worked at Miss Patchet's shdoll - according to Charlotte - "from six in the morning until near eleven at night, with only one half-hour of exercise between" and called it slavery. To facilitate their plan to keep school for girls, Emily and Charlotte Brontë went in 1842 to Brussels to learn foreign languages and school management. Emily returned on the same year to Haworth. In 1842 Aunt Branwell died.
When she was no longer taking care of the house and her brother-in-law, Emily agreed to stay with her father.
Unlike Charlotte, Emily had no close friends. She wrote a few letters and was interested in mysticism. Her first novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), a story-within-a-story, did not gain immediate success as Charlotte's Jane Eyre, but it has acclaimed later fame as one of the most intense novels written in the English language. In contrast to Charlotte and Anne, whose novels take the form of autobiographies written by authoritative and reliable narrators, Emily introduced an unreliable narrator, Lockwood. He constantly misinterprets the reactions and interactions of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. More reliable is Nelly Dean, the housekeeper, who has lived for two generations with the novel's two principal families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons.
Emily Brontë died of tuberculosis in the late 1848. She had caught cold at her brother Branwell's funeral in September.
We are introduced to Jane who is ten years old. She lives in the early 1830s at Gateshead Hall, where she lives with her cousins and aunt. Orphaned at an early age, Jane has grown up without having anyone to love her, or to have anyone to love, and now her aunt has decided to send her to the Lowood Charity School, citing her as willful, obstinate, deceitful, and in need of a stern upbringing. At Lowood, Jane finds life difficult under the command of the cold-hearted Mr. Brocklehurst and Miss Scatcherd, but she forms a solid friendship that helps her through the hardest times. But eventually, Janes best friend, Helen, dies from lounge problem.
After ten years at Lowood, an older and wiser Jane accepts a position as governess for the young French ward of Edward Rochester.
Jane settles in quickly, forming solid relationships with her charge, Adele, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax. However, the master of the house makes the strongest impression on the young woman.
From her first meeting with Edward, when she offers aid after he is thrown from a horse, she is infatuated, but his natural reticence keeps her from confessing her feelings. But there is something other than Edward for Jane to consider as she becomes established in her new situation, because the mansion, Thornfield Hall, hides a secret. Eventually, Jane falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and they decide to get married. Everything seems to be in order until the wedding ceremony at the church. Suddenly a man rushes in, saying they can’t get married because Mr. Rochester already has a wife. That’s Thornfields terrible secret. Up in the attic is his wife, which has been locked up for several years due to her insanity.
She gets so angry that she sets the mansion on fire before she accidentally kills the housekeeper by throwing her of a ledge. Her insanity and fear while being in the middle of an inferno, makes her take her own life. Jane goes away, and after a while at her new settlement, she inherits a large amount of money from an uncle she never even knew she had.
She is no longer a poor lady, quite the contrary. She is very wealthy. But her feelings for Mr. Rochester, she can’t let go of. So she travels back to Thornfield to find a blind and depressed man waiting for her. They build a life together, and Mr. Rochester gradually recovers his sight.
Jane Eyre is a love story, but, instead of the lighter romance and humor, this tale is marked by realism and a pervasive sense of misery. At least in the end, there is a moment of joy.
Again this has been an exiting and interesting couple of weeks, where I have learned quite a lot. Different from the other projects we’ve had, this time we were to act “as a team” and create a common booklet. I can’t really tell how this has worked out, based on the fact that I haven’t seen any of the content except for the pages I’ve written myself. I (along with many others in the class I’m sure), really enjoyed seeing a film for once. It really gave us – at least me, a good impression of how things were a long time ago, and with this type of education I’m not likely to forget it for a while (it’s amazing how well you remember movies you’ve seen compared to facts read in some teaching book).