Victorian Era, Thomas Hood, Browning

Upon reading Thomas Hood’s “Song of the Shirt” and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “The Cry of the Children,” it is clear to see that both authors believe the victims, children and women, were not their natural selves. For instance, in Hood’s writing, “a woman sat, in unwomanly rags . . .” (italics mine). He also mentions how their monotonous work continues on throughout all the seasons with no acknowledgement of change.

Similarly, in Browning’s poem, “the reddest would look as pale as snow” to one of the “crying children,” revealing the children’s incapability to observe nature. Furthermore, the only “wind” the children feel is the wind blown from the droning wheels in the factories if they are not in the stuffy “coal dark, underground.” Browning also highlights the despairing idea that the children are slaves, martyrs, orphans, and grieving people even thought they are so young: they live lives of the most decrepit elderly, yet they are in their youth. Even when the children cry out to their true Father, God, they fell that that familial bond has been broken and He does not hear them. They were not naturally meant to be on their own, left in the silence of God and passer-byes.

Are these poems a social critique on the factories and industrialism or more of the people in charge? I think both authors directly target people to look on the plight of their fellow men and help them, regardless of the reason for it. I honestly think that this poem even applies to the despondent situation that so many forced-labour slaves or victims of sex trafficking are trapped in. That being said, both Hood and Browning’s poems are timeless.

288 thoughts on “Victorian Era, Thomas Hood, Browning

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