Poverty and Social Class in Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago Essay

Poverty and Social Class in Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago Essay

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Arthur Morrison’s A Child of the Jago (1896) is intrinsically linked to the social class system and poverty. The novel is set and published during the late Victorian age, a period in which the working class experienced a relentless struggle against the harsh realities of social and working conditions. Moreover, in his paper The Working Class in Britain 1850-1939, John Benson highlights the disparities between the poor and the economy during the era as a result of the Industrial revolution and urbanisation(Benson, 2003,p.30). Although, Benson's argument is valid when focusing on a social novel such as A Child of the Jago; because through his childhood the protagonist Dickie Perrot commits heinous crimes and becomes incredibly defiant in the old Jago; On the other hand, Benson's argument does not explain how and why an individual would succumb to these acts. Morrison makes it clear in his preface to his readers and critics that he wrote the novel to expose the trails and tribulations of the poor and the grim realities of slum living through the characterization of Dicky Perrot ' It was my fate to encounter a place in Shoreditch, where children were born and reared in circumstances which gave them no reasonable chance of living decent lives: where children were born foredamned to a criminal or semi criminal career' (Morrison, 1897). Despite, the novel being set in the fictional genre, elements of Morrison's personal life is prevalent throughout the text. Morrison originates from a working class background and collaborated with Reverend Osborne to campaigned for a variety of social reforms and slum clearance in the Old Nichol (Matlz, 2003). Thus, the novel is based on the conception of reality rather than fiction ...


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...t of the East End slums. Although, The Old Jajo idealized thieving , brawls and pick-pocketin the inhabitants all shared the same social class in the realms of society. Morison’s writing examined major development in social and political reforming .This suggest that Morrison had a good knowledge of the social class system in Victorian England. On the other hand It is important to note that, his observation and experience with locals in the Old Nichol area of the East End influenced his portrayal and could make his writing unreliable. Conversely, his writing indicates a level of pessimism and positivity to characters like Dicky Perrot. This can prove to be controversial and contradictory as it may complicate the readers interpretation of the novel. Having said that, the novel is an excellent examination and representation of the criminal class in Victorian period

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