What two classes of people are mentioned in "The Man with the Hoe"?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Man with the Hoe" deals with the conflict between the working class and the ruling, moneyed class, the "masters, lords and rulers in all lands" (line 31). Markham provides a very strong contrast between the two, using similes and metaphors of the working man as "a thing" (line 6) and "brother to the ox" (line 7), not because he sees the working man this way, but because he sees the ruling class having made the working class this way.  These masters have "made him dead to rapture and despair" (line 5), have blown out "the light within this brain" (line 10), and have "betrayed/Plundered, profaned and disinherited" (lines 29-30) the working man.  Markham, or the narrator, asks the ruling class if this is "the handiwork you give to God" (34). This is a powerful indictment of not only the era of the painting that inspired this poem, 1860-62, but also an indictment that rang true when Markham wrote the poem, published in 1899. And even now, over one hundred years later, this poem has some powerful and important messages concerning the two classes that it addresses.