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'In late vicorian Britain despite many critical comments, Poverty was still regarded as the fault of the poor and deserving of punishment.'Discuss the appropriateness of this judgment by reference to the four extracts.

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Introduction

'In late vicorian Britain despite many critical comments, Poverty was still regarded as the fault of the poor and deserving of punishment.' Discuss the appropriateness of this judgment by reference to the four extracts. Poverty in Victorian Britain remained a problem throughout the 19th century and the need to provide help and assistance to those that could not help themselves still remained essential at the end of this period. The provisions made through the 'poor law' gave the absolute minimum relief with basic accommodation, food and help in order to keep costs to a minimum and encourage self-help. This also had the effect of discouraging many decent self-respecting people from seeking assistance even when their circumstances were dire. Extracts A, B and C confirm that poverty was regarded as the fault of the poor, caused by their own laziness, weakness and lifestyle. In extract A, a cartoon published by Punch in 1883, the 'house-jobber', a well clothed and fed man who appears to be taking 50 per cent of the rent money as his wages, has arrived to collect the rent but the man does not have the money to pay. ...read more.

Middle

In contrast the attitude of George Lansbury in 1892 showed a completely different attitude. He sympathized with those that were unfortunate enough to find themselves in the workhouse and was aware that there were many people including those that were 'mentally deficient' and 'babies and children' had no control over their situation. He also acknowledged that decent people would endure any suffering rather than turn to the workhouse for help, and after his visit to a workhouse could understand why. Those people who found it absolutely necessary to go into a workhouse were met with hostility and appalling degradation. The poor, according to the way they were treated, clearly deserved to be punished for asking for help and this is evident in extract D, a recollection of a visit to a workhouse in Poplar in 1892, by George Lansbury a Labour politician. He described it as a 'prison or Bastille' and the people in this mixed workhouse were all considered 'a nuisance' and treated accordingly. When they arrived they were searched and stripped then put into a communal bath before being dressed in workhouse clothes that had been worn by many other people and without any underwear. ...read more.

Conclusion

The blind eye turned by the inspectors in 1868 is also different from the protest made by George Lansbury in 1892. He ensured that the disgusting food and attitude of the chief officer were brought to the attention of the doctor and master and for that day at least cocoa, bread and margarine were served. This would have also served as a warning because this visit was unannounced and was his 'first visit to a workhouse' implying that he visited others afterwards. The conditions in the workhouse had change little during the 19th Century but it was the attitude of those in Government who turned a blind eye to the suffering and those in direct control of this people who inflicted the pain that remained the biggest problem. Most people still considered poverty to be the fault of the poor themselves, an opinion that seemed to remain safely in tact throughout the century. Any self respecting decent person would ensure untold suffering outside just to remain free, as once they entered to workhouse they were subjected to conditions and rules that could quite easily have been described as a prison, and therefore I consider the statement to be correct. ...read more.

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