Luddism in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: The Literary Response - Essay

Martha Vicinus (essay date 1968)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Vicinus, Martha. “Street Ballads and Broadsides: The Foundations of a Class Culture.” In The Industrial Muse: A Study of Nineteenth-Century British Working-Class Literature, pp. 8-59. London: Croom Helm, 1968.

[In the following excerpt, Vicinus explores the response of weavers to the mechanization of their trade as described in popular working-class broadside literature, which the critic says protested against the factory system and insisted on the rights and personal dignity of the individual.]

Broadsides contain a wealth of commentary on industrialization. Many works praise various inventions and improvements, such as ‘Steam Boots’, about a...

(The entire section is 6664 words.)

Igor Webb (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Webb, Igor. “History and the Novel, and the Novel as History.” In From Custom to Capital: The English Novel and the Industrial Revolution, pp. 101-61. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.

[In the following excerpt, Webb considers the historical accuracy of Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley.]


The importance of the years 1812-13 to Charlotte Brontë is of course significantly different from their importance to Jane Austen. But to set Shirley next to Mansfield Park is first to appreciate the continuity of a special history, the history of women's feelings, and thus of repression and fulfillment, in the “middle...

(The entire section is 13298 words.)

Susan Zlotnick (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Zlotnick, Susan. “The Fortunate Fall.” In Women, Writing, and the Industrial Revolution, pp. 62-122. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

[In the following excerpt, Zlotnick examines how Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley represents history, noting the author's ambivalent treatment of the Luddites. The critic asserts that the reaction to industrial capitalism by female writers was complex and very different from that of nineteenth-century male writers.]

Charlotte Brontë's second published novel, the much-anticipated successor to Jane Eyre, must have indeed seemed like a dish of “cold lentils and vinegar without oil” to...

(The entire section is 5488 words.)

Nicols Fox (essay date 2002)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Fox, Nicols. “Romantic Inclinations.” In Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives, pp. 41-73. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2002.

[In the following essay, Fox illustrates how the Romantic poets protested against industrialization while sympathizing with Luddites and other workers displaced by emerging technology.]

There is an intriguing gap in the life of poet, painter, mystic, and eccentric William Blake. No one is quite certain what he was doing between the years 1811 and 1817. No major works were published during that time, and mentions of him are rare. It is almost as if he had vanished. There was...

(The entire section is 12914 words.)