Industrialism brought significant social change to England. England at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 was largely a pastoral, agrarian island. Most people lived on farms or in small villages.
The population numbered only nine million in 1812, the year of Dickens's birth. By 1854, when Dickens wrote Hard Times, it was seventeen million, and more than half the population now lived in cities and towns. Conditions around factories, where there was no zoning, were often horrible— overcrowded and with no infrastructure, so that human waste was piled in the streets and then covered in ashes. People once used to vistas of clear skies and pastures where sheep grazed now had to get used to railroads, factories belching black smoke, and other blots on the horizon.
Industrialism impacted the working class people the most. Many were displaced from farm life, where, if the work was very hard, there was much time spent outdoors and the toil had a rhythm that provided breaks. Ideally, the...
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