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Were Poor Conditions In The Mills Inevitable

1538 words - 7 pages

Were Poor Conditions Inevitable?

In today’s industrialized society working conditions are quite secure as most professions that require physical labor are provided with correct safety equipment and guidelines. However, this was not the case during the 1800’s in which the great event known as the Industrial Revolution occurred and the safety and welfare of employees was not even a priority in most establishments. Many of the industries in Great Britain forced their workers to labor for excessive amounts of time which led them to intense exhaustion in areas that reached extremely high temperatures. Faulty machinery was also an issue along with exhaustion causing mortality rates to spike ...view middle of the document...

This was probably the main contrast between the two industrializing nations and why Dickens referred to English factories as, “great haunts of desperate misery” due to high mortality rates and the deathly conditions of the work environments. This does not go to say that Massachusetts did not have any flaws because in fact they adopted a strict moral code for the women of the mills and if they stepped “out of line” they would be put on a blacklist at other mills and would be refused if they asked to be hired. These examples both display how New England and Great Britain had poor environment for their employees proving the imperfection of the world’s industrialization.
In Document A an excerpt from Dickens’ account of the Lowell Mills is examined and the tone is quite enjoyable as Dickens seems to thoroughly enjoy the circumstances which he is presented with. He speaks very highly of the hired girls as they are dressed in “serviceable bonnets, good warm cloaks, and shawls.” which was noticeably better than the “degraded brutes of burden” which presumably were the British women. He describes the housing arrangements just as affectionately as the women and takes great note of the fact that plants were placed in some of the windowsills because of the remarkable air quality and cleanliness of the environment and along with this he claims, “not one young girl…I would have removed from those works if I had had the power”. While on the topic of the employed children Dickens also mentions that there are very few which reside in the factories and that they must be educated according to law which was not the case in Britain.
Document B presents a very different circumstance from the perspective of an English man in one of the factories in an excerpt from “Observations of Young Bobbin Girls 1794”. In this document the poor conditions of a British work environment are on full display. The grueling spinning process is described in a very tedious manner which is quite representative of how laborious life in the factory was. The work process is described as “done every minute without intermission” without anyone overseeing the girls. From this observation it can be seen that the working conditions were everything but desirable and most definitely not safe for young girls to be working in. Perhaps the most striking portion of this excerpt is the fact that it is stated that, “many parents did object to send their girls” and poverty was the main contributor to the girls’ employment. The fact that these girls were put to work under reluctance is a problem within itself as most parents would not choose to send their children to work at the factories as a first option most likely due to the exceedingly impoverished conditions.
Document C examines letters from a Lowell Mill girl named Mary to her Father about her life at the mill. The first letter pertains to Mary’s living conditions and her pay, the tone is largely hopeful and Mary excitedly states that wishes to...

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