Thursday, November 4, 2010

"The Spirit of Discontent"

The Lowell Offering was a magazine established by working women in textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts during the Industrial Revolution. This piece defends the way of life of factory workers and in several ways also defends the growing industrialization of Northern society.

Ellen Collins are her co-worker/friends are having a debate over factory life. Ellen argues that the environment and hours of the factory are unjust. She states "I am going home, where I shall not be obliged to rise so early in the morning, nor be dragged about by the ringing of a bell, nor confined in a close noisy room from morning till night. I will not stay here; I am determined to go home in a fortnight. . . .” . Another argument she brings up "“As to the morality of the place,” returned Ellen, “I have no fault to find. I object to the constant hurry of every thing. We cannot have time to eat, drink, or sleep; we have only thirty minutes, or at most three quarters of an hour, allowed us to go from our work, partake of our food, and return to the noisy clatter of machinery. Up before day, at the clang of the bell—and out of the mill by the clang of the bell—into the mill, and at work, in obedience to that ding-dung of a bell—just as though we were so many living machines. I will give my notice tomorrow: go, I will—I won’t stay here and be a white slave.” Therefore, Collins is discontent with the factory life.

On the contrary, her friends agrees with the factory life. she states "We are very busily engaged during the day; but then we have the evening to ourselves, with no one to dictate to or control us. I have frequently heard you say, that you would not be confined to household duties, and that you disliked the millinery business altogether, because you could not have your evenings, for leisure. You know that in Lowell we have schools, lectures, and meetings of every description, for moral and intellectual improvement.”

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