Positive Aspects Compared to the Negative Aspects of the Industrial Revolution

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The era known as the Industrial Revolution was a period in which fundamental changes occurred in agriculture, textile and metal manufacture, transportation, economic policies and the social structure in England. It is almost impossible to imagine what the world would be like if the effects of the Industrial Revolution were swept away. Electric lights would go out. Automobiles and airplanes would vanish. Telephones, radios, and television would disappear. Most of the stocks on the shelves of department stores would be gone. Over the course of a century, Britain went from a largely rural, agrarian population to a country of industrialized towns, factories, mines and workshops. Britain was, in fact, already beginning to develop a manufacturing industry during the beginning years of the early 18th century, but it was from the 1730's that its growth accelerated. Although some parts of the Industrial Revolution can be seen as ghastly and negative, the majority, including the final outcome, of the Revolution was unimaginably good for the country of Britain. The Industrial Revolution was a positive era in Britain’s history. However, initially, the Industrial Revolution appeared to bring no benefits at all to the country. The factories subjected men, women, and even child labourers to low wages, harsh punishments, and unprotected work around machinery. Food and medicine was expensive for poor factory workers, and thus they could only afford to eat an unhealthy diet which contributed to the extreme malnutrition and sickness in the cities. During the early years of the revolution, child workers were very common in factories across Britain. Children as young as five and six years old worked for twelve to sixteen hours a day, six days a week without breaks for meals.(Marx 1909) These children would be forced to work in hot, stuffy, poorly lit, overcrowded factories to earn as little as four shillings a week. The demand for child labour was so great that it led to many children suffering. Children

were cheap, they were ideal factory workers because they were obedient, submissive, likely to respond to punishment and did not form unions. In addition, since the machines had reduced many procedures to simple one-step tasks, cheap unskilled children could replace expensive skilled workers. Finally, children were the perfect factory worker because their nimble fingers and small stature suited the new machinery and work situations perfectly. Not only was child labour a horrible component of the Industrial Revolution, the cities were cramped and unsanitary. As new towns and cities rapidly developed during this time period, the need for cheap housing, near the factories, increased. Sanitary arrangements were often nonexistent, and many toilets were shared with a small row of houses. The liquid from the toilets and the waste heaps seeped down into the earth and contaminated the water supplies. These liquids carried disease-causing germs in the water. The most feared and apparent disease was cholera. Cholera had spread to London by February 1832. It was deeply feared by everyone as it did not take long to spread and it could strike anyone, regardless of their social class. However, cholera hit the factory workers of the Industrial Revolution the hardest. This was because of their weak immune systems and fragile health due to their low wages, poor diet and almost nonexistent healthcare. Despite the damage done by the harmful effects of the Industrial Revolution, the positive outcomes overcame many of the negative attributes. Britain obtained a very large capital from its many new international trading ventures with other major nations, which usually dealt with the exchange of new and improved industrial machinery. Great Britain grew to become the most powerful manufacturing nation, and the strongest economically, in all of Europe. As Britain’s finances grew and increased, citizens were able to move up the social ladder in society,...
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