According to Danziger and Robert opinion, poverty is the state of being extremely poor (9). Most people define poverty as the state of lacking in money to purchase goods and services. However, different people may define poverty differently depending on their financial status and where they were raised. Reducing poverty is a world concern yet there are no known international standards from measuring poverty. In economics, poverty is when an individual fails to meet a certain set income. When one is in possession of less than a dollar per day, they are said to be in extreme poverty according to international standards. Poverty is either defined as absolute or relative (Lister 4). Absolute poverty measures poverty in relation to the money necessary to meet basic needs such as clothing, shelter and food. However, this concept fails in that it does not concern itself with the broader quality of issues nor does it concern itself with the overall level of inequality. The other definition of poverty is relative poverty that defines poverty in relation to economic status of the other members of the society. Both concepts are concerned with consumption and income (Stuart et al., 2)
Poverty is important since it is a world concern and affects millions of people in the world. It is important to understand how people end up in poverty and how others rise form poverty to riches. What is the journey that people take from comfortable lives to poverty and what is the road that people take from poverty to a comfortable life? In Orwell’s novel Down and out in Paris and London, he gives an unusual account of a penniless British writer. He gives a vivid account of the time he lived as one of the poor working in a hotel. Orwell shocks the middle class with his observation of poverty and misery of those living in poverty. He gives a recount of the despair of the poor from his own personal experience. Charles dickens on the other hand was an author who crawled out of poverty. He defines poverty during the industrial revolution as no other author has done before. Charles Dickens represent the communities that were affected by the industrial revolution. Most of the unskilled and uneducated employees were laid off and made to lead lives of poverty.
This paper gives the poverty account from both author’s perspective. Though they differ in their backgrounds and experiences, the two authors aim to enlighten the upper class about the predicament of the poor.
Both Orwell and Charles Dickens aim to inform the middle class with their observation of the poor. Charles Dickens goal in life was to shock the middle class and upper class to the plight of the Britain poor. Unlike Orwell, all of Dickens’s books tell a story about poverty. In his novel a tale of two Cities, Dickens uses his protagonist to tell the story of poverty during the industrial revolution.
While Dickens stems from poverty, Orwell is born in the middle class then deteriorates to poverty. Charles dickens family was on shaky ground from the beginning. While his father worked as a clerk in the Naval Pay Office, he did not make enough to sustain his big family. Dickens father also tried his hand in journalism and was to later inspire his son. Like Orwell, Dickens father was also a struggling artist trying to sustain himself. The only difference was that dickens father was a family man and Orwell was a young man in his twenties trying to make it in a big city (Peter 41).
Orwell’s poverty story is based on a story of a struggling writer. Contrary to dickens whose poverty is from childhood, Orwell was born in a life of comfort. Orwell’s book is about many, or rather the lack of it. His book is used to show that the thin line between poverty and success can be very thin .
“It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out,” Writes Orwell (70). He talks about how the middle class hear about the poor. He heard about them and then lived with them. Like Dickens’s, his experience is real. The two authors’ differ however in that Orwell is trying to educate the people directly about his experiences. From his own experience, Orwell tries to inform the public about the plight of those living in poverty. He is rather direct about his experience and does not use a character like Dickens.
Orwell’s book is all about money. He is more concerned about the lack of money for the young author in town who abandoned his artistic dream and does anything that will bring him income. Dickens on the other hand emphasizes on the lifestyle of the poor and does not focus on money (Orwell 10-30).
While Dickens talks about the social and political situation in his books, Orwell shows no interest in fashion, ideological schools or political issues in Paris as he narra6tes his story. Orwell shows no interest in politics unlike dickens who at times in his books describes the governing structure of the towns he was visiting. Orwell is genuinely uninterested in the theories that describe society but genuinely interested in society. Orwell would rather wash dishes of the rich than educate children of the rich or write newspaper. Orwell is in his predicament out of choice. It appears as if he is there for the experience rather than to read Proust or Gide.
In one sense, Orwell is familiar to the predicament of the poor from his firsthand experience with poverty as a poor struggling writer. On the other hand he is unlike other poor people who have no option but to stick in their poverty stricken state. Orwell’s experience in Down and out seem as it is meant to make an impression on the rich in the moneyed class. Orwell could have lived in Paris as an aspiring intellectual and had an easy life.
Like Dickens, Orwell does not discuss his life as a writer, rather he talks about the life of his characters. Dickens work takes to the economy. He talks more about the economy of Britain. He creates human characters that represent the gamut of human experience. Charles Dickens worked in the factory after his father was sent to prison to help sustain his family (Karnicky 31). Unlike Orwell’s poverty, Dickens’s was In that situation because he could not help it. He was born in poverty and circumstances force him deeper into poverty. His experience affected Dickens to a point of making a career out of it. He never gets over experiences t the blacking factory. Dickens’s determination to champion the rights of the oppressed and the poor affected his life.
In his stories, Dickens shows us how the wealthy have possessions but no heart to help. The poor people have no possessions but are rich in love. Dickens does not mean to show us the rich are wicked but to show us in the pursuit of wealth, our priorities are backwards.
Dickens unlike Orwell did not have a chance to complete his education. His mother insisted that he drop out of school so that he could work and add to the family’s income. Orwell has completed his studies and an intellect at mind. He however makes the choice to live in poverty. Though dickens says he holds no resentment for his mother, he says he will never forget how she contributed to him to being sent back. Poverty in his family was so bad they could not afford a basic education. They had to struggle to make ends meet.
Child labor is another form of poverty. Charles Dickens works in the factories a tender age. He does so to help contribute to his family’s income. Work at the factory was horrible and Dickens’s did n0ot like it but he had no other choice but to do whatever work that was there to help his family (Peter 54). Orwell work in a hotel washing dishes. He is in his twenties and thus of age to perform manual labor unlike dickens who was just a child.
Dickens is pushed into the life of manual work when his father is sent to jail. Had his father stayed at home, Dickens would probably have finished his education. His poverty is a result of other people’s mistake. Orwell’s poverty is self-inflicted. Here is a young energetic man with the skills to be an intellect in France but he chooses to wash dishes. Both writers struggle to put food on the table. Though we are not told of Dickens’s starvation, we are well aware that him and his family struggle to make ends meet. Orwell struggles some time to feed himself while in France. Both authors bring out the element of poverty well in their work. However, their encounters of poverty differ. Dickens is born in poverty. When his father is sent to jail, he sinks deeper into poverty. Dickens experiences manual labor was a young boy. Dickens is born to a this class family thus he inherits the poverty that comes with his last name. Dickens never shakes off his experiences and they inspire him to write all of his works. However, he does not entirely write about politics but also diverges in to politics and the socio-economic of Britain after the industrial revolution. On the other hand, Orwell is born to a middle class family and is educated. Orwell though is a struggling writer, he chooses not to take up other jobs but opts to wash dishes. His poverty is self inflicted. He has the choice to be something else in the society but he chooses to be poor; maybe to make a point to the rich in the society. The two authors are similar in their experiences with poverty. They both experience poverty at a tender age though dickens is a bit younger. Both have to do odd jobs. While their experiences differ, both writers use their experiences to educate the society. Their experiences make them advocates of those living in poverty
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