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England in the Age of William Hogarth Essay

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Updated: Nov 8th, 2021

History is the main interest of a lot of people as only knowing history people deserve for their future. The history of the country is the characteristic feature of its culture, customs, and traditions. The political and economical life of people’s presence is created by its past, and to answer questions about how people could reach such development or how it turned that the country’s economical and political position is on such a low level, the history of the country should be followed. The life of people during the age of Hogarth was rather complicated and varied. There were three main classes, and belonging to any of them determined people’s identity and made it possible to construct the whole opinion about the person (not only visual but also the inner world and the sphere of interests).

Before identifying the classes and determine people belonging to this or that class, it is significant to provide the characteristic features of the age, which is going to be analyzed. The age of Hogarth is the time period, during which a famous artist lived and worked, William Hogarth. William Hogarth is a person who was born in England and whose works made a huge contribution to the history of this country. The contribution, which was mentioned, is not just the artistic works, which are magnificent, but also the contribution in the life of England through his work in the social sphere.

William Hogarth is a great representative of his time who was born in a family of simple people (the question of the layers of the population and people’s belonging to this or that layer will be discussed later) in London, on November 10, 1697. Having lived 67 years (he died on October 26, 1764), he managed to do a lot of work and to make a great contribution to the life of the England society. The life of Hogarth was not full of events: he was taught by an engraver and worked for some time in the sphere. He got married and lived his life, helping people to be marveled by his works (Jarrett).

People of England during the age of Hogarth lived only in their social world, they were surrounded by people of the same layer and did not have time and desire to visit other cities. The life of one city was concentrated in this very city, and the life of one layer was only inside this social layer, the changes and moved appeared so rarely. Only the most notable and richest people had the opportunity to live in their homes and travel, but they were not interested in it. Moreover, this class of people was considered to be the richest and at the same time the smallest in number. People from the upper class were noble and educated, they possessed huge territories of land and only this fact made them travel large distances from their homes (Jarrett).

One of the most frequent phrases, which occurred in England of those times, was the phrase “Habeas Corpus” (lat.) which means that Englishmen had imprisoned themselves without court trials (Jarrett 15). People in that England were rather happy as they did not know the opportunities of the people of other countries, it could be concluded that unawareness of people led to their happiness.

The next class is the middle class. The representatives of the middle class were merchants and people with the working professions, which were not connected with the land, such as shoemakers, craftsmen, and other people whose work was paid in the cities and villages. The number of these people was higher than those of the upper class but much lower than the class of poor people. Hogarth himself was the representative of the middle class, as his father was a simple teacher of Latin and Hogarth was a painter (Jarrett).

The poor people class, or the working class, was the most numerous in the society in the Hogarth’s age England, the number of people was much higher than even half of England’s population. Working people were closely connected with land and the main sphere of work and interest for them was their land. There were other people, who also belonged to this class, such as fishermen, miners, and other professions, which were connected with the hard work. Working people are the poorest and the hard-working people, who could not allow themselves to have a rest whenever they wanted. The entertainments for such people were very rare, moreover, working people valued every free minute and tried to have a rest as better as they could (Jarrett).

Hogarth’s main contribution in the painting history of England is that he managed to illustrate all the horrible and disgusting events, which took place in 1700s England, the difficult life of people of different ages, and the violence against all classes, as criminals did not look on the age or the social position of people, as the country’s political life was so strict, that all classes suffered from time to time. The age of Hogarth was characterized by the violence and other types of crimes that occurred in society, and no one cared about it (Jarrett).

It is impossible to quarrel that working-class people suffered the most, as they were the poorest people, and sometimes they had nothing to eat. Children and old people were the main age categories, which had to be protected, but in reality, everything was different. The experience of the political life and undeveloped economical conditions of the country made it possible for all people to experience the situations, which were common for everybody. People lived in their towns or villages and did not know anything other about the life of people in other cities, without mentioning the fact that there were other countries.

So, the life of Hogarth England was complicated but at the same time, it was rather simple as people did not desire more than being secured and fed. The biggest part of the population was the working class which was rather poor and people did not have time to think about the privileges of life instead of thinking about their family and how to make all of them fed. Hogarth in his art represented the life of 1700s England with the whole value and color, but at the same time poor, grey, and unhappy. The age of Hogarth may be characterized as the age of paradox, as being happy of their unawareness of the beauty of life, people still were unhappy, because of the conditions they were put in. The mentioned classes lived similar lives as they lived in one society, but at the same time, the classes differed greatly, as their incomes were rather different, as well as the costs of life.

Works Cited

Jarrett, Derek. England in the Age of Hogarth. Yale: Yale University Press, 1986.

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