Sunday, April 10

Oliver Twist + the Industrial Revolution

While reading Oliver Twist, we see a range of lifestyles during the period of the Industrial Revolution.  Dickens uses the story to present his commentary on the revolution, which caused social upheaval to English society...

From 1760 to 1840, the Industrial Revolution was the transition from handcrafting items to new manufacturing processes.  This transition included not only mechanized factories, but chemical manufacturing and iron production and the increasing use of steam and water power.  The revolution began in Great Britain and spread through Europe and to the United States.

The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way.  Average income and population began to grow at an unsustainable rate.  Historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since plants and animals were domesticated.

An economic recession occurred from the late 1830s to the early 1840s when the adoption of the Industrial Revolution's early innovations, such as mechanized spinning and weaving, slowed and their markets matured.  Innovations developed late in the period, such as the increasing adoption of locomotives, steamboats and steamships, hot blast iron smelting and new technologies, such as the electrical telegraph were not powerful enough to drive high rates of growth.   However, after 1870, there was another period of rapid economic growth springing from a new group of innovations in what has been called the Second Industrial Revolution.  These innovations included new steel making processes, mass-production, assembly lines, electrical grid systems, the large-scale manufacture of machine tools, and the use of increasingly advanced machinery in steam-powered factories.

There were some additional world changes occurring as a result of the Industrial Revolution, including:
  • Workers shifted from being craftsmen to becoming machine operators, working as a team under management rather than in small / individual settings
  • People flocked from agricultural areas to industrial centers, leading to population explosions in the cities and requiring changes in social structures
  • New economics and governmental policies were put into effect to support industrialization
  • Land was no longer seen as a source of wealth, and there was a wider distribution of wealth among citizens
  • In the agricultural sector, new improvements were also made during this time to help provide more food to feed a growing population

There were some societal drawbacks as part of the revolution.  Lack of worker protections and regulations meant long work hours for miserable wages, living in unsanitary tenements, and exploitation and abuse in the workplace.  But even as problems arose, so too did new regulations that provided people with more material conveniences, also enabling them to produce more, travel faster, and communicate more rapidly.

In the 1960s-2000s, the Third Industrial Revolution used electronics and information technology to automate production.  Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third; this is the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century.  It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.  Unlike previous industrial revolutions, however, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace and is disrupting almost every industry in every country.

Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest.  And the possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited...

Read

  • Oliver Twist
    • The classic story of a young boy who seeks his fortune on the streets of London. After Oliver Twist asks nasty Mr Bumble for more food, he has to flee the workhouse for the streets of London. Here he meets the Artful Dodger, who leads him to Fagin and his gang of pickpockets. When a thieving mission goes wrong, Oliver narrowly avoids prison and finds himself in the care of kind Mr Brownlow. But Fagin and the brutal Bill Sikes go in search of the young orphan, determined to drag him back . . . 

Watch

Make / Do

  • Write an epilogue set five years after the novel ends.
  • Compare and contrast the treatment of the poor in the 1800s to today.
  • Create a political cartoon of Dickens' England and social classes.
  • Write a poem contrasting good and evil.
  • Create a graphic design with light and dark moods from the novel (you can include pictures and blurbs).
  • For more Industrial Revolution activities, see:

Vocabulary

  • beadle
  • temerity
  • malignity
  • flagellation
  • insolent
  • obeisance
  • ague
  • blight
  • avaricious
  • irascible
  • offal
  • harridans
  • elucidative
  • loquacious
  • asperity
  • myrmidons

Think

  • Find examples of symbolism in the names of the novel (ex - Mr. Bumble is an inept leader) and tell what the names symbolize.
  • Why do you think Mr. Brownlow decided to become Oliver's benefactor and adopt him?




Explore more with the Advanced High School Literature bundle!


Includes six unit studies covering a variety of topics presented in more mature literature selections.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!
 
Units include:
· Oliver Twist & the Industrial Revolution
· Things Fall Apart & the Colonization of Africa
· The Chosen & the Zionist Movement
· Five People You Meet in Heaven & Human Impact
· The Things they Carried & the Vietnam War
· Crime and Punishment & Free Will vs Determinism

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