Beer street and gin lane essay

The paintings of Beer Street and Gin Lane are perfect examples of William Hogarths intent to send a message to people through his art. About this essay.
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The central figure, a crazed, half-naked prostitute with syphilitic sores on her legs, is oblivious of her baby tumbling to its death.

Elsewhere, destitute gin drinkers are reduced to a brutal, feral existence. A carpenter and a housewife wearing ragged clothes desperately pawn their tools and pots and pans in order to fund their habit. Behind the parapet a boy competes with a dog to gnaw on a bone.

Frills and Furbelows, Corsets and Cuffs, Prose and Poetry, Mittens and Muffs.

The cadaverous ballad-singer slumped in the foreground is in a woeful state of ill health. His black dog symbolises despair. Meanwhile, in the background, actual corpses are visible — including the hanged barber in the upper storey of a partially ruined house.


In this section we are confronted by a frenzied crowd of drunkards, cavorting and causing havoc: one lunatic clutching a pair of bellows to his head even dances a jig while waving a spike upon which a baby has been impaled — a figment from a nightmare. This is a gin-fuelled, topsy-turvy world of mob rule, precipitating the breakdown of society in general — symbolised by the collapsing building at the far end of the miserable vista.

Set in Westminster, where trades and crafts are seen to thrive, rather than St Giles where the poverty-stricken residents are feckless and unemployed, it features healthy, well-fed labourers at leisure, enjoying large, frothing tankards of the national brew. Nearby, fishwives with overflowing baskets suggest that a society based on solid, honest mercantile values — untainted by that foreign spirit, gin — will be rewarded with abundance and prosperity.

The Continental Foreigner in Hogarth's Graphic Art

Hazlitt was right: Hogarth did not have a pastoral imagination. Culture Menu. Share on Facebook. Share on Twitter. Share on Reddit.

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Behind this dismal pair are two orphan girls, wearing St Giles badges to show that they are nominally in the care of the parish, drinking by the gin barrels. Hogarth included these children not only for their emotive quality, but because alcohol abuse by children was a genuine problem among London's poor. The care of impoverished children was of lifelong concern to the artist—he was one of those involved in setting up the Foundling Hospital, one of the great philanthropic successes of the age, which opened in Hogarth completed his image with a reminder of governmental impotence.

In the 18th century this area was known as St Giles, a maze of narrow streets notorious in Georgian London as the heartland of the gin craze. By juxtaposing the two, Hogarth was illustrating the difference, as seen by contemporaries, between gin, a drink for the desperate and disenfranchised, and beer, a wholesome beverage for the working man.

Here…Industry and jollity go hand in hand.

Explaining Beer Street and Gin Lane/Explaining Dersu the | Bartleby

Hogarth himself, although greatly distressed by the gin craze, was by no means puritanical about alcohol per se. He was a sociable man, and was often seen around London, with his pet pug at his side, drinking and dining into the small hours.

in gin lane - song of the people

Even if gin is rather better regarded now, and beer a little worse, it is a scene that has lost none of its punch—the sign of truly gifted artist. Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today.

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