William Hogarth's Beer Street and Gin Lane

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  • Topic: William Hogarth, Gin Act 1751, Beer Street and Gin Lane
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  • Published : February 21, 2013
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Beer Street and Gin Lane

Beer Street and Gin Lane Hogarth’s one of the best known his satirical paintings. He designed and published them as part of a campaign in support of the government’s Gin Act, in an attempt to restrain the consumption of cheap gin. In these paintings, Hogarth compares the joys of beer drinking with the gin which caused the complete destruction of the people in town that he warns unpleasant consequences of alcoholism. Beer Street shows a happy city drinking the 'good' beverage of English beer, People are shown as healthy, happy and prosperous while in Gin Lane they are unhealthy, lazy and careless.

Gin Lane addresses a very real problem in mid eighteenth century England, the abuse of gin by the working classes and the poor. Although gin was really cheap, it was responsible for the drunkenness, poverty and deaths of many thousands of men, women and children. As it can be seen in the picture, a drunken woman is taking her snuff while her unattended baby falls to his death, the effect on mothers of infants was particularly devastating. Another mother pours gin into her baby's mouth to pacify him, while around her the drinkers disport themselves like so many animals. No one seems to care about the man who has hanged himself in the background. Also the fact that the pawnbroker at the left is surrounded by the drunker in need of money shows how desperate they are to get cheap gin. Those details successfully show how awful it is to be drunken by the cheap alcohols and lose all the sanity people have.

On the other hand, Beer Street provides an image of an ideal society. People in the paintings look happy and healthy as they dresses well and are peaceful. In contrast to Gin Lane, the only business that is in a trouble is a pawnbroker. Hogarth shows the merits of drinking “good” homemade beer.

In those paintings, Hogarth’s criticism towards chap gin certainly made impacts on people to think that how terrible it is to be addicted to it....
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