Elizabeth Barrett Browning's The Cry Of The Children

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During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, England’s industry began to flourish. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, Britain consisted primarily of rural societies. Manufacturing at that time was a slow process, done by individuals using nothing more than basic tools. As the population of England and the rest of the world increased, the current methods could not produce enough to meet the needs of the public. Near the end of the eighteenth century, new inventions, such as the steam engine, brought about the start of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution created a means of mass production to meet the demands of the increase in population and foreign trade. To maximize their profits, companies began hiring women and children,…show more content…
Their size made them ideal for crawling into small dangerous spaces, such as, between machines, down chimneys, and in the tight spaces of coalmines. Over time, laws and regulations were put in place to limit the age of workers and the amount of hours women and children could work, but they were often difficult to enforce ("Victorian Child Labor and the Conditions They Worked In"). After reading about the terrible conditions children faced working in factories and mines, in 1842 Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote “The Cry of the Children.” Her poem described the struggles of the children who gave up their childhoods and endangered their lives to help make ends meet. (Barrett-Browning, Elizabeth) The atrocities described in her poem were not only occurring in England, but all over the world. By the beginning of the twentieth century, America had become the industrial capital of the world. Although time had passed, England and the rest of the world were continuing to struggle with the abuse of children in the work place. In 1908 an American sociologist and photographer, Lewis Hine, set out with his camera to expose the horror of child labor to the world (Marshall,…show more content…
While traveling around to take photographs of the terrible conditions children were working in, Lewis Hine came across a mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania. In the coalmine, boys, who were usually between the ages of eight and twelve, worked as coal breakers. The “breaker boys” spent about twelve hours a day breaking up coal and separating out any other substances from the coal. The photograph shows about a dozen little boys with coal stained faces sitting in child sized work areas, hunched over the coal. Behind them stands an older boy with a stick, which he would sometimes use on the boys to keep them productive. Hine’s photograph showed the children were seen as slaves. According to Hine, the coal dust was often so thick the children were not able to see (Marshall, Josh). The conditions were similar in Britain, where many children would die of lung caner from breathing in the dense, coal filled air (Venning, Annabel). The conditions shown in Hine’s photograph shows they were seen as disposable. The companies did not care about the well being of the children, rather the profits of the company. Although years had passed since Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote her poem, the messages of the working conditions had not. While Hine shows the conditions will lead to early death, Browning writes of it, “‘True,’ say the children, "it may happen that we die before our time!

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