AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 8, Number 2 May 2024 Pp.80-93

Child Labor in English Literature

Department of English Language, College of Education for Women,
University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq
Email: ruwaida.a@coeduw.uobaghdad.edu.iq


Child labor is an old social problem. It peaked during the Industrial Revolution which greatly influenced English society, such as rural exodus, lack of equal job opportunities, miserable living and working conditions, social classes, lack of mandatory education, poverty, and, most importantly, child labor. The paper investigates the crimes against children carried out under the cover of child labor and poses the question of whether authorities, governments, religious institutions, businesses, and even parents are complicit in these crimes or have chosen to overlook them in spite of the constant backlash against them. The main aim of this study is to show the positive role of some authors like Charles Dickens, William Blake, Frances Trollope, Charles Kingsley, Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Caroline Norton, and Elizabeth Barret Browning who refused to ignore such atrocities and their consequences. These writers showed their opposition to child labor through great literary works such as Oliver Twist, Hard Times, David Copperfield, The Chimney Sweeper, A Voice from the Factory, The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land- Baby, and The Cry of the Children. The study follows the close reading method and the sociology of literature approach. The study concludes that poverty and urbanization were some of the adverse outcomes of the Industrial Revolution. It reveals the official’s role in profiting from child labor and presents the authors’ role in changing The Poor Laws and Factory Acts to ban hiring minors. The study recommends national child labor regulations that should be enacted and enforced in order to prevent or at least control child work, as recommendations for further research.

Cite as:

Hassan, R.A. (2024). Child Labor in English Literature. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 8 (1), 80-93.


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Ruwayda Ahmed Hassan is an assistant teacher in the Department of English Language, College of Education for Women, Universityof Baghdad. MA. Holder, major in metaphysical poetry. Have taught different literature classes such as Drama, Novel, Short Story, Poetry, and Introduction to English Literature, in addition to teaching English language as a second language for other departments in the College of Education for Women. Lived in the United States, Columbia, MO for about Eight years and worked different jobs, most importantly as a translator for the Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNM) and Family Access Center of Excellence (FACE Boone County). She is still one of the staff members of the English Department in the College of Education for Women, University of Baghdad, teaching poetry for the sophomores.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0009-0006-3447-859X