Elisabeth’s Day | Engelsk Opgave

During the Victorian age, a lot of social changes began to take form in England. Amongst them were unionization of workers, socialism, feminism, and democracy. This was the age of great thinkers such as Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud and the age where social responsibility became an issue on the mind of the public.

With this came a new focus on the working class, whose rights and conditions had not been a top priority during the industrial revolution, and workers were therefore living and working under inhumane conditions some of which are explained and brought to attention in the text “Elisabeth’s Day”. The text is a narrative by a young girl, who grew up as a child worker in a coal mine. She describes the conditions in which she is working and some of the consequences it has had for her life.

Elisabeth’s language reflects her social status and the language is characterized by years of work in the coal mine. Elisabeth is a girl of the working class and working in the mine from a very young age has prevented her from getting any sort of education.

This shows in her choice of words and sentence constructions. Her language is very informal and with little variation, which is evident in the following quote: “I have to hurry up hill with the loaded corves, quite as much up as down, but not many have to hurry up hill with the loaded corve” (page 123, line 24). The lack of variation in choice of words and the repetition in this quote, “I have to hurry up hill with the loaded corves(…) have to hurry up hill with the loaded corve”, indicates a limited vocabulary, which is to be expected from a working girl, who has never gone to school.

The language also reflects Elisabeth’s standing in society as a young woman. “Generally I work naked down to the waist like the rest (…) It is very hard work (…) The men behave well to us and never insult or ill-use us” (page 123, line 29, 31 and 35). When she explains how she usually works naked down to the waist, she quickly tries to defend it by using refutation when explaining that it is hard work, and also that she is never ill-treated by the men because of it.

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