Friday, May 9, 2014


Poverty can provoke theft by desperate people, as French Victor Hugo illustrated in his drama, Les Miserables about the French Revolution.  English social reformer, Charles Dickens, was a champion for the poor through his novels, plays  and short stories. He tried to heal the abuses and suffering of people, especially youths having to endure hard labor and long hours.

Dear Ones,

In England, the United States and elsewhere–starting with five year olds–youths worked in dark, damp rat-infested coal mines since they were small and could reach into low crevices.  Many died from slate falls and lung diseases along with their parents. Dickens wrote to correct this child abuse during the beginning of the industrial age.

Dickens exposed social wrongs and did more good than the preaching from pulpits in all of Chritsiandom and its church militant history. Though this playwright 's works he entertained millions of people from one century to another.  Instead of seeing the poor and middle class people as underclass victims, he recognized the needy not as a poor mass of humanity.  Instead he looked upon them as individuals. 

Daniel Webster said Dickens did "more to emeliorate the condition of the English poor than all the statemen Great Britain had sent into Parliament."  Dickens  did not see people as an impoverished guilt-ridden society.

Matthew Cooper in the Washington Monthly of 1988 wrote "America today is in at least one way like the England of the 1830s.  Most of us see the underclass as a seething abstract mob.  Of course, it's not just artists who have failed us. but our politicians, too.  It's too  much to expect all art to serve as social glue, binding each of us to the matters of the less fortunate.

Copper later wrote in the Utne Reader, "Today, when so much fiction is either mired in minimalist ennui or pantiing with the lifestyes of the rich and promiscuous, we need someone who can animate our social concerns.  We need a new Dickens."

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