Summary Of Samuel Butler's 'The Way Of All Flesh'

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When Victorian Era, England is brought up in most context’s it is used to exemplify a calm and more refined way of life; however, one may overlook how the children of this era were treated and how social class systems affected them. Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh is a novel written to take a closer look at the life of children growing up in the unfair social hierarchy of Victorian Era England. Butler’s main characters are Theobald and Ernest, who grow up during the time period; Overton, who is Ernest’s godfather, is the narrator of the novel and provides insight into Theobald and Ernest as they mature through the novel. Theobald is the son of a wealthy, strict, and abusive father who treats him with no mercy, but leaves him with a rather significant inheritance from his Christian publishing company, at his death. Ernest is the son of Theobald, who beats him with a stern fits over even the pettiest things in…show more content…
Early into the novel Overton gives an overview of the conditions Theobald is growing up in; along with most boys of the upper class Theobald’s father “thrashed his boys two or three times a week and some weeks a good deal oftener, but in those days fathers were always thrashing their boys.” (Butler, 17). “As a child, (Ernest) believes all that is told: that he is, for example, a wicked, ungrateful boy who deserves Theobald’s frequent beatings,” Deborah Core analyzes Butler’s novel as focusing on how naïve Ernest is as a result of the way his father has treated him (Core). In continuation to Core, Butler points out how the parenting styles of the time period work against their main goal; Ernest ended up in prison and against Christianity entirely after attending Cambridge University at the orders of his

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