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Dickens was commenting on the plight of the poor in urban England during the 1800's. It was a common complaint after the industrial revolution where many poor were living in unsanitary and crowded conditions. Employees were seen as disposable tools and were forced to work in unsafe and dangerous conditions. Many people died or became ill or injured and unable to work due to the deplorable conditions. Children were often left to fend for themselves working at adult jobs for less wage. Children might have worked 12-16 hr days, seven days a week. Many were injured due to the heavy industrial equipment they were often required to work with. Many children (as well as adults) turned to crime as a way of making a living. Dickens criticism was primarily of the public treatment of the child as a criminal rather than addressing the reason the child had to become a criminal. While Dickens did not condone the criminal behavior, it was pointedly obvious that he wanted the middle class or upper class societies to take notice to the plight of the young, poor and uneducated.
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