In both Road to Wigan Pier and Down and Out in Paris and London the writer Orwell focuses on a portion of society that has been unfairly treated by both the government and the upper classes. In the excerpt we read from Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell paints a rather bleak picture of the culture and society of the English industrial towns at the time. These cities over crowded and unsanitary are prime examples of the squalid living conditions members of the working classes were required to live in. Orwell’s narrative seems more Dickensian then what we would expect of a civilized western country like Britain during the 1930’s. The other piece written by Orwell is an examination of the tramps who populated Britain at the time. These men were constant nomads traveling where ever they could find a hot meal. There lives were of no substance, they could not plant there roots anywhere and they were unused as labor in any capacity.
The aspect of Orwell’s two pieces that struck me were his descriptions of two government laws in particular. The first was the means test, which was a draconian dictate enforced on Britain’s that regulated there ability to receive any sort of meaning full welfare and governmental aid. Men who would assist neighbors where reported and stripped of there aid for this act, and the elderly were disregarded because of the money they took away from the family. The second law was the government decision to not allow tramps to stay at any one casual ward for more then one night. Repeated stays would result in pseudo-imprisonment. This law was hurtful to both the tramps and Britain. Instead of men having one place where they could stay a while and become a helpful part of the community these men had to move from place to place wasting there lives away in pointless travel. Both of these laws were in no way advantageous to British society and if anything they breed discontent.
Do the laws in place in Britain at the time this piece was written, the 1930’s seem out of date and behind the times for the way societies in all countries were growing?