The social context in 18th century English Literature


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The social context in 18th century English Literature

  2. 2. Context           General features of 17th century social backround The situation at the beginning of the augustan age Agriculture Nationalism Industial Revolution The Rise of Middle Class The Downside of the Progress Everyday Life Living Conditions Population/ Transportation /Methodists
  3. 3. WHAT WE SAW IN 17TH CENTURY??     17th century was a time of constant religious and political fighting. This age stabilized the relationships between church and state, Parliment and monarchy. These regulations provided a base for future economic and colonial expansion. %80 of the population made their living off land.
  4. 4.      Colonial expansion improved the quality of life. Pepper and other spicies were brought and meat was avaliable all year any more. People’s free time was influenced by the political issues.For example, in Puritan period, all public entertainment was banned and theatres were closed. In restoration period, people started having fun again and London became a theatrical centre with various kinds of sports and plays. An economic policy called Mercantilism was put into practice.
  5. 5.  The outbreak of plague and the Great Fire of 1666 decimated the population and destroyed most of the buildings.
  7. 7. RATIONALISM       There was a prevailing spirit of optimism among the upper classes. A tendency to put faith in the rational capabilities of man in keeping with the intellectual climate of enlightenment. Romanticism raised its furiously anti-classical head. Order, reason and balance ruled the day and as a consequence of this, rational discoveries occured. John Locke and Sir Isaac Newton played an important role in bringing about a new way of considering the world which surrounds us. Rebellion, under the guise of romanticism, was lurking impatiently in the wings in the same time.
  8. 8. Sir Isaac Newton Romanticism is rising JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704)
  9. 9. AGRICULTURE    For centuries, agriculture provided employment for most of the population. Little had changed, in 1700, farmers and peasants still grew crops and raised sheep. In order to meet the ever- increasing demand for wool, the system of land enclosure was intensified.
  10. 10.    The common lands were split up and fenced into large farms by wealthy farmers. These farms enabled sheep and cattle to survive in the winter. Land Enclosures became highly efficient and provided the necessary raw material for the booming clothing industry and growing industrial revolution.
  11. 11. THE START OF INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION  With wool, being produced in greater quantities than ever, new   technologies and efficient labour organisation were needed to transform it into the finished products that expanding market demanded. To satisfy this demand, small factories were built. Wool and cloth were the prime sources of wealth during the early years, coal and iron were the foundation stones on which the revolution was built.
  12. 12. MECHANISATION    The production was split up and each worker did one specific job. Along with the innovative work practices, mechanisation was the key to success for newly-born British industrial sector. As a giant step, automatic looms that could make cloth quickly were invented.
  13. 13.     Both industry and agriculture had met the challanges of a changing world by innovating and modernising. The establishment of the Bank of England(1964) complemented the the establishment of insurance and trading companies. Economic and business life became respectable in the hands of an emerging middle class consisting of bankers, traders, merchants. These changes improved the quality of life for many, but others found their lifes upside-down and struggled to come to terms with a new world.
  14. 14. POPULATION     The total population of England was far smaller than today,less than a large contemporary city. The poor were by far the the largest part of the population. It was difficult to calculate changes in size and distribution of the population because the census was forbidden for hiding the weakness from populous France. Also they thought that a cencus would subvert the individual liberty. One thing is clear, the population grew greatly in this period.
  15. 15.  London had become a modern city, the commercial and cultural centre of England, doubling its population to one million.  British society was slowly but surely became more industrialised as the century wore on.
  16. 16. Adam Smith(1723-1790) 1776  It is a founding book of modern economic thought. Smith criticised Britan’s trade policies and argued that labour was the real source of wealth.
  17. 17. WORKING CONDITIONS    Lands were enclosed and common land became scare , because of that so many peasants had to find other ways of living. Many went to work in cities , the others remained in country and fell into poverty. Workhouses were built all over the country in order to deal with the increasing number of poor peasants.
  18. 18.    Many people who went to cities found job, but they had to endure subhuman living and working conditions. Factories need so much workers so the women, men and children. No allowance was given for the children, they had to work the same long hours and endure the same unhealthy environment.
  19. 19. LIVING CONDITIONS     The people in the rural often lived in two-room cottages or in mud hovels. Cities were even worse than rural areas. Many families lived in overcrowded slums without any form of sanitation. Some people didn’t have beds and they slept on the floor. It is estimated that only one child in four in London became an adult. Crime was another great problem of this period. Considering the small number of wealthy people and vast number of poor, the results are predictable.
  20. 20.  New capital offences were created. For example, someone could be hanged for picking a pocket to the value of 12 pence, or for being found in the company of gypsies.
  21. 21. QUALITY OF LIFE     Hospitals bacame a feature of most new towns and life expectancy increased for those who managed to survive. Many towns collected a new tax called ‘’rates’’. This money was used for improving living conditions. A sense of civic pride developed among the inhabitants. In this period , the poor were not yet organized politically. But there were so much small riots. But these were very limited and without any political ends.
  22. 22. METHODISM o o o John Wesley (17031791) Methodism was the first of the organized movements of the poor. John Wesley was the founder of this religious movement. Wesley offered humility and hard work as a solution to the problems of the poor people. He adressed the sipiritual needs.
  23. 23. COFFEE HOUSES & GIN    Two drinks played an important role in 18th century in Britain. Drinking alcohol with gambling was a way to escape from tiredness of the working day. So gin palaces bacame the favorite places with cheap liquor . The social effect of heavy drinking was devastating, families were ruined and the cities were full of drunken mobs.
  24. 24.   Coffee was brought with colonies. The first coffee house was opened in London and followed by many in 18th century. They were favorite meeting places for the middle and upper-classes who exchanged information about politics, literature and business.
  25. 25. THE RISE OF MIDDLE CLASS    The voice of middle classes was not heard only in coffee houses but in society at large. They were the people who had become rich thanks to the agricultural and industrial revolutions. They were farmers who modernised their enclosed lands, the factory owners who has entrepreneurial spirit and the merchants who traded around the world.
  26. 26. THE EFFECTS ON LITERATURE The reading public was changing and taste for reading was spreading.  Female readers become increasingly important, as fine ladies have much leisure times.  The rising middle-class were hungry for knowledge , literary representations of changing social reality.  Coffee houses became the centre of active public opinion about literature. 
  27. 27. REFERENCES       Coursepack nment el9/section/volC/overview.aspx
  28. 28. Merve Özdemir 26426568436