EDU CPE 10029
Prof S Thompson
Word count 1081
The book in which I have decided to critically examine is ‘Five children and It’ by E.Nesbit. Written during the Golden Age of children’s literature in 1902 its success as a children’s novel is evident and can be seen through its reprints in almost every decade since its release. This story is accessible to both children and adults. The reason that I have chosen this book is because of the influences upon society that Edith Nesbit had and the influence Victorian literature had upon creating childhood identities (Hedrick 1997) E. Nesbit was a co-founder of the Fabians’ Society; a social reformist movement developed in 1883 and an important movement in regards to the social construction of childhood past and present. In the late 19th century its supporters campaigned heavily for free secondary education and is to this day affiliated to the New Labour’s vanguard think tank and has influence in its policy making. Opposed to revolutionary reform the Fabians’ of the early 20th century believed that society could be improved gradually over time by setting moral examples of how to live (Pease 1916) and is evident throughout this book. Nesbit’s perception of a child’s eye view has been recognised as a strategy for “social critique” (Phillips 2004:45) and can be seen through her repeated examples of how children should be treated and what the acceptable conditions are for a ‘good’ childhood. Neil Postman (1994) states that childhood as a phenomenon was recognised most strongly during 1890-1950 and this can clearly be seen in Nesbit’s writing by her sentimentalised depiction of childhood. The children have a strong family bond which reflects the “Victorian family ideology” (Thiel 2008: 5) of the 19th century. Although the mother and father are not key figures in the story the foundation of their childhood is set around a nuclear family and the expectations presented by this model. Their father...
References: Cunningham, H. 2006. The Invention of Childhood. London: BBC Books
Furedi F. 2002. Paranoid Parenting: Why Ignoring the Experts Might Be Best for Your Child. Chicago: Chicago Review Press
James A & Prout A. 2007 (eds). Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood. London: Farmer Press
Pease, E. 1916. A History of the Fabien Society. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company.
Phillips L. 2004, The Swarming Streets: Twentieth-century Literary Representations of London. Netherlands: Rodopi
Thiel E. 2008 The fantasy of family: Nineteenth-Century Children 's Literature and the Myth of the Domestic Ideal. New York: Routledge
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