Industrial Revolution Impacts in 'The Conditions of The Working Class in England'

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1341 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Words: 1341|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Rhetorical Techniques in "The Conditions of the Working Class of England"
  3. Conclusion
  4. References


In an era marked by the rapid proliferation of technological innovations and a surging population, the advent of the Industrial Revolution not only represents a period of unparalleled expansion and progress but also signifies profound alterations in the economic and social landscape of England. Frederic Engels, in his work titled "The Conditions of the Working Class of England," meticulously scrutinizes the binary consequences of the Industrial Revolution, dissecting the advancements and impediments it brought to the new England. Through a meticulous examination of the rhetorical techniques interwoven throughout his narrative, Engels posits that the Industrial Revolution assumes the dual roles of a humanitarian catastrophe and an indispensable phase in the trajectory of human progress. By delving into the vivid imagery, portrayals, and descriptions that juxtapose the working-class conditions with the opulence of Manchester, Engels masterfully delineates both the merits and demerits of the Industrial Revolution and their collective contribution to the discord that permeated England's societal sphere. Ultimately, through a discerning analysis of the geographical divisions and distinctions, conveyed not only through linguistic elements but also through the structural organization of his discourse, Engels contends that the developments in industry and commerce during the 19th century inevitably ushered in a price of division: the alliance of the aristocratic class sowed the seeds of division among the proletariat, while the emergence of great urban centers gave rise to burgeoning social disparities.

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Rhetorical Techniques in "The Conditions of the Working Class of England"

Within the pages of "The Conditions of the Working Class of England," Engels adroitly harnesses rhetorical techniques such as anaphora and rhetorical questioning to illuminate the divergent impacts of the Industrial Revolution—painting it as both a humanitarian tragedy and a crucial catalyst for change in England. In the inaugural paragraph of the chapter aptly titled "The Great Towns," Engels asserts, "Here [England], the manners and customs of the good old days have been most effectively destroyed. Here the very name of 'Merry England' has long since been forgotten, because the inhabitants of the great manufacturing centers have never even heard from their grandparents what life was like in those days" (1565). The strategic repetition of "here" in consecutive sentences intensifies the focus on the transformative influence of the Industrial Revolution on England. The erosion of age-old traditions strips England of its intrinsic qualities, customs, and mores, epitomized by the deliberate capitalization of "Merry," now relegated to the annals of history. Furthermore, Engels employs phrases such as "the great manufacturing centers" and "most effectively destroyed" to underscore the advantages and indispensability of these industrial developments.

The anaphora device effectively establishes an undertone of discord, despite commencing both sentences with the same word. When Engels alludes to the multitudes of individuals, hailing from diverse social strata and ranks, converging within the confines of London, he inquires, "Are they not all human beings with the same innate characteristics and potentialities? Are they not all equally interested in the pursuit of happiness? And do they not all aim at happiness by following similar methods?" (1566). In this succession of questions, Engels adroitly intertwines anaphora with rhetorical questioning, fostering a rapid tempo in his arguments and cultivating an aura of frustration. The rhetorical device commencing each question with the phrase "Are they not" initially appears to emphasize societal unity, only to culminate in the stark declaration that "they rush past each other as if they had nothing in common" (1566). Through the astute deployment of rhetorical techniques like anaphora and rhetorical questioning, Engels initially underscores the unifying facets inherent to a populace bound by shared innate traits, potential, and the pursuit of happiness, only to unravel a world fraught with discord in the denouement—a testament to the multifaceted nature of the Industrial Revolution, which simultaneously embodies a humanitarian catastrophe and a vital juncture in the trajectory of human progress.

Manchester, often hailed as the epitome of the Industrial Revolution and the catalyst for the labor movement, serves as the canvas upon which Engels crafts vivid descriptions, employing precise language choices to unveil the dissonance within England's societal fabric (1567). He accentuates the issue of overpopulation juxtaposed against limited space, painting a bleak picture of Manchester's working-class districts, where houses are characterized as "dirty, old, and tumble-down," a consequence of a policy that crammed as many houses as possible into confined spaces, to the extent that "not an inch of space remains between the houses, and any further building is now physically impossible" (1568-69). Engels also vividly illustrates the woeful lack of hygiene, with "filth and garbage abounding," and where dirty water is the sole means of cleansing. Simultaneously, he highlights the evolution of the modern manufacturing system, emphasizing the recurring theme of "replacement." This narrative traces the trajectory of technological progress, with "water and steam power" supplanting manual labor, and "power-looms and self-acting mules" rendering traditional hand-looms and spinning wheels obsolete (1567).

However, even as technological advancements mold England into a paragon of modernity and efficiency, Engels refuses to let his readers lose sight of the abject degradation endured by the working class. With the proliferation of factories and urban centers, the residents of these burgeoning cities are crammed into minuscule living spaces, engendering a callous indifference toward their neighbors and fostering a culture of selfishness focused on personal gain (1566). Consequently, even within Engels' vivid portrayal of Manchester through his masterful use of imagery, there exists a stark separation. Manchester is not merely the "heart of industry in the United Kingdom"; it also epitomizes a society characterized by enforced class distinctions (1567). The construction of corporate edifices and residential areas, along with the expansion of street pavements and bridges, results in the overpopulation of both people and material possessions, exacerbating the chasm between social classes.

Lastly, through an astute analysis of the conspicuous disparities and divisions, not only in the geographical layout of Manchester and the socio-economic strata, conveyed through a language replete with paradox, but also through the organizational structure of his treatise, Engels underscores the prevalence of division amidst developments that ostensibly sought to bridge differences. Contrasting the upper class with the proletariat, Engels exposes, through his depiction of the geographical landscape, the privileged existence of the upper echelons, ensconced in "luxurious and comfortable dwellings" seamlessly linked to Manchester's center via omnibuses, enabling swift commutes through working-class districts (1568). This juxtaposition highlights not only the absence of convergence between diverse social classes but also a clear spatial demarcation within the city's layout. Similarly, Engels employs paradoxical language, illustrating how "the strongest of all, a tiny group of capitalists, monopolize everything, while the weakest, who are in the vast majority, succumb to the most abject poverty" (1566). This apparent paradox challenges the legitimacy of a system where the majority remains oppressed while a select few wield disproportionate power. While Manchester may undeniably be a "great town," it also emerges as a crucible of "the most barbarous indifference and selfish egotism" and "the most distressing scenes of misery and poverty" (1566). The Industrial Revolution, far from fostering unity, has engendered a society rife with class-based conflicts, insurmountable and enduring.

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In conclusion, Engels' unique structural approach underscores the schisms created by the Industrial Revolution. His meticulously crafted narrative, replete with rhetorical devices and nuanced elements, portrays this transformative period as both a harbinger of societal progress and a harbinger of profound human suffering. Through Engels' eyes, traversing the streets of London, we glimpse the inherent price paid for the opulence of the city, a testament to the adage that everything, even the wonders of civilization, carries a cost – one often borne by those who labor tirelessly on its behalf (1566).


  1. Engels, F. (1845). The Condition of the Working Class in England. Oxford University Press.
  2. Thompson, E. P. (1968). The Making of the English Working Class. Vintage.
  3. Hilton, R. H. (1978). Class Conflict and the Industrial Revolution. Past & Present, 78(1), 44-73.
  4. Perkin, H. (2004). The Origins of Modern English Society, 1780-1880. Routledge.
  5. Rose, J. (1983). The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. Yale University Press.
  6. Sutherland, G. (1975). Crime and Criminal Justice in the Industrial Revolution. The Economic History Review, 28(3), 418-429.
  7. Stearns, P. N. (1972). The Industrial Revolution in World History. Westview Press.
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Industrial Revolution Impacts in ‘The Conditions of the Working Class in England’. (2018, April 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“Industrial Revolution Impacts in ‘The Conditions of the Working Class in England’.” GradesFixer, 25 Apr. 2018,
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