Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
–Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
“Most folks are about as happy as they make their mind up to be”Do you think Abe’s Lincoln’s statement on Happiness is true? Relate this to the Characters Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Crachit. Use one or both of the characters to agree or disagree with Lincoln’s statement.
In Charles Dicken’s story A Christmas Carol we have said that the chains that Jacob Marley wears around his waist represent bad acts from the past. Or perhaps even bad memories from the past. For Scrooge this starts with his fathers rejection of him. At the heart of this story is the idea that each person has a choice in each moment to do good things, to feel happy, to forgive, to be generous, no matter what has happened in your life each of us has this choice in everymoment .
Dicken’s words I bear the chain I forged in life… link by link seem to indicate that if any awareness is to take place it starts with ideal of personal responsibility.
Do you think it is possible to have done bad and selfish things and change? What about if you have suffered in the past, if bad things have happened to you can you move forward and decide to steer your own life to happiness. Can you get over the bad things that have happened to you? What do you think you have to do to move forward past bad memories? Is it hard to make these changes? What do you need to do to make these kind of changes? Could have Scrooge gotten past his unhappy childhood and chosen to be happy?
A new workforce during the Industrial Revolution
When the industrial revolution first came to Britain and the U.S., there was a high demand for labor. Families quickly migrated from the rural farm areas to the newly industrialized cities to find work. Once they got there, things did not look as bright as they did. To survive in even the lowest level of poverty, families had to have every able member of the family go to work. This led to the high rise in child labor in factories. Children were not treated well, overworked, and underpaid for a long time before anyone tried to change things for them.
Children as young as six years old during the industrial revolution worked hard hours for little or no pay. Children sometimes worked up to 19 hours a day, with a one-hour total break. This was a little bit on the extreme, but it was not common for children who worked in factories to work 12-14 hours with the same minimal breaks. Not only were these children subject to long hours, but also, they were in horrible conditions. Large, heavy, and dangerous equipment was very common for children to be using or working near. Many accidents occurred injuring or killing children on the job. Not until the Factory Act of 1833 did things improve. Children were paid only a fraction of what an adult would get, and sometimes factory owners would get away with paying them nothing. Orphans were the ones subject to this slave-like labor. The factory owners justified their absence of payroll by saying that they gave the orphans food, shelter, and clothing, all of which were far below par. The children who did get paid were paid very little. One boy explained this payment system:“They [boys of eight years] used to get 3d [d is the abbreviation for pence] or 4d a day. Now a man’s wages is divided into eight eighths; at eleven, two eighths; at thirteen, three eighths; at fifteen, four eighths; at twenty, a man’s wagesÐ About 15s [shillings].”
The treatment of children in factories was often cruel and unusual, and the children’s safety was generally neglected. The youngest children, who were not old enough to work the machines, were commonly sent to be assistants to textile workers. The people who the children served would beat them, verbally abuse them, and take no consideration for their safety. Both boys and girls who worked in factories were subject to beatings and other harsh forms of pain infliction. One common punishment for being late or not working up to quota would be to be “weighted.” An overseer would tie a heavy weight to worker’s neck, and have them walk up and down the factory aisles so the other children could see them and “take example.” This could last up to an hour. Weighting could lead to serious injuries in the back and/or neck. Punishments such as this would often be dispensed under stringent rules. Boys were sometimes dragged naked from their beds and sent to the factories only holding their clothes, to be put on there. This was to make sure the boys would not be late, even by a few minutes.
|Child labor: Movements to Regulate
There were people in this time period that strongly advocated the use or the abolishment of child labor, or at least the improvement of conditions. Factory owners loved child labor, and they supported their reasoning with ideas that it was good for everything from the economy to the building of the children’s characters. Parents of the children who worked were almost forced to at least approve of it because they needed the income. There were, however, some important figures that fought for the regulation, improvement, and/or abolishment of child labor. The first step to improving conditions was in 1833 with the Factory Act passed by Parliament. This limited the amount of hours children of certain ages could work. Specifically, children 9 to 13 years of age were only allowed to work 8 hours a day. Those 14 to 18 years of age could not work more than 12 hours a day. Children under 9 were not allowed to work at all. Also, the children were to attend school for no less than two hours during the day. Perhaps the most important part of this act was the part that said the government would appoint officials to make sure the act was carried out and complied with. Later, in the early 20th century, activists went even further to protect children’s rights in labor. Among these figures was Jane Addams, founder of the Hull House. Activists in the U.S. made the government set up the Children’s Bureau in 1912. This made it the U.S. government’s responsibility to monitor child labor.
In the time of the Industrial Revolution, the children of the families who moved to the crowded cities had their work situation go from bad to worse. In rural areas, children would have worked long hours with hard work for their families farms, but in the cities, the children worked longer hours with harder work for large companies. Harsher treatment, fewer rewards and more sickness and injury came from poorly regulated child labor. Child labor today is still apart of many economies. 59,600 of the workers in the U.S. are under 14 and many other countries have huge child labor troubles. Child labor came from the Industrial Revolution and is still around today.
We have now met Marley’s Ghost. Hideous creature that he is. He visited Scrooge with heavy chains and money boxes tied to his waist. He is imprisoned in his inability to help anyone. He tells Scrooge he wears the chain he forged in life. He says that Scrooge’s chain was as long as his seven Christmas’s ago and that he has labored on it since. He Declares it has grown into a ponderous chain! What do you think ponderous means in that Sentence.?
Question what do you believe the chain symbolizes or represents in the story?
Do you believe that people create their own (chains) life through their actions at least some of the time?
Last week we began reading Charles Dickens Christmas Carol.
Here is a Recap of what we have seen so far.
First we discussed Dickens himself and his childhood in England in the beginning of the eighteen hundreds. Remember that is father went to Debtors Prison and that he had to walk as a boy of 11 for 12 hours a day 6 and one half days a week.
When Dickens became a writer he wanted to certainly make money but he also wanted his stories to point out how unfairly hard life was for the poor especially children. Remember there were no laws to protect the poor or children.
Here is a list of the Characters we have met so far:
The protagonist, Scrooge is a cold, stingy creditor (some one who lends money for profit) the story is mainly about him becoming kinder and less selfish . Scrooge represents the rich who neglect the poor and think only of their own well-being. The most motivation Dickens provides for Scrooge’s mean character is his depiction of him as a young boy; neglected by his peers and, it appears, by his father, the young Scrooge seemed determined to live only for himself as he aged.
Cratchit is Scrooge’s overworked employee, a timid man afraid to stand up to his boss’s demanding ways. The patriarch of a family poor in wealth but rich in love, he cares especially dearly for his crippled son, Tiny Tim. Cratchit is a symbol for the poor, good-hearted and hard-working but unable to climb out the stifling conditions of poverty.
Scrooge’s nephew, Fred embodies the happiness and sharing of Christmas. He is his sisters only child who he love dearly and died in child birth. He refuses to let Scrooge’s “Bah! Humbug!” attitude bring him down, and is overjoyed when his uncle converts and attends his party.He is also fairly poor but does not let it make him unhappy.
Finally we Know of his partner Jacob Marley who has been dead for 7 years and in all ways was like Scrooge, mean, hard and selfish. Jacob will be visiting Scrooge in this next part.
While reading keep your eye for details of poverty and wealth. Poverty is a lack of money, and wealth is an abundance of money. Let’s read the next part and then discuss what we see.