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Social Classes Throughout History Essay

1309 words - 5 pages

Social Classes Throughout History The gap between different classes has always been very prominent in
history. It was none so prominent as to the 1800s. This time was one
of poor and rich, peasants and snobs. The gap between the classes was
huge and people thought it would never be bridged. However, towards
the late 1800 a tie started to form between the classes. This tie was
one of understanding rather than one of comrade. This was represented
by dramatic change in attitude towards poverty and it's victims.

In 1834 views on the poor were not sympathetic but harsh and unjust.
The old poor law was abolished and it's successor was far tougher and
stronger. It set up a central authority for the poor law to answer to.
Workhouses were created and made so living conditions were worse than
the poorest poverty stricken abode outside the poor law. Outdoor
relief was officially abolished, though continued in various forms.
These changes symbolised the nations view of the poor; the poor had
themselves to blame, it was their own fault and self-help was the only
saviour for them. The government and their laissez faire attitude also
supported this view. This attitude was not pushed down and out of
societies view but in fact in the earlier years it was part of the
party's campaigns. These ideals had obvious influences on their
dealings with the poor.

Apart from very few charities and philanthropist's efforts, people and
groups like the Church of England and Shaftsburg, the poor were
expected to pull themselves out of the pits and dregs of life and
society. Then they were forced to adopt the government views of self
help and accept the creation of an uncharitable and somewhat uncaring

As the century progressed, so did the minds and views of the nation
and its government. Attitudes towards poverty, especially the cause,
were being taken seriously. This started the battle to confront the
problem and tackle it heads on.

Now ideas were changing and the new poor law was slightly softened on
its views and dealings with poverty. More out door relief was
available which meant less people where being labelled as paupers and
moral was heading up. This very slight boost of hope was helped by the
electoral reforms of 1817 and 1884. More and more classes and genres
of people where gaining the vote. This meant that the government had
to start taking into account the views of the less fortunate and lower
classes, as they were now potential votes.

This was the time where the upper classes were beginning to become
more aware of the severity of the poverty situation. Novelists,
artists and reports helped this. A huge example of this is the
extremely famous works of Charles Dickens. His Novell "Oliver Twist"
was an excellent...

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