This paper looks at novels by three writers – George Elliott, Elizabeth Gaskell and Benjamin Disraeli and how they describe the living conditions of the working class in the industrial revolution era.
This essay compares the novels of George Elliott, Elizabeth Gaskell and Benjamin Disraeli and their works, respectively: “Felix Holt”, set in the coal mining areas of Loamshire, “Mary Barton”, in the power looms of Manchester and “Sybil”, the collieries and the metal-working foundries of Mowbray. The novels describe the deplorable conditions that existed for the workmen: malnourishment, often starvation, lower wages and death due to preventable and curable diseases.
“From the perspective of workers, the main characters in the novels are Felix Holt (Felix Holt), John Barton (Mary Barton) and Walter Gerard (Sybil). They are honest men, passionate about the rights of workers, and possessed of a charisma that lets others gravitate to them.
“They belong to trade unions and workers movements entrusted with the task of improving working conditions and increasing worker wages. In all three novels, workers seek redress by taking their grievances to the Members of Parliament in London. Each time however, their delegations, met with stonewalling and apathy, return “empty-handed.” These frustrations are the forerunners to the riots.”