Looking Backward

Looking Backward - Nguyen 2 In the following Im going to...

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Nguyen 2 In the following I’m going to analyze the novel “Looking Backward” written by Edward Bellamy. Bellamy was born in 1850 in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1871. Instead of practicing he became a journalist and editor at the New York Evening Post which he left in 1879 to focus on writing essays, short stories, and novels. He died at the age of 48 after battling tuberculosis. At the time of the publication of “Looking Backward” America was going through a difficult phase. The end of the Civil War in 1865 brought the Reconstruction Politics. The suffrage of African-Americans into society after slavery abolition was one topic on the agenda. Reconstruction also addressed the issues evolving the return of the southern states and their treason. In the 1870s the railroad industry boomed. The transcontinental line was completed in 1869 connecting the East and West. Four years later 400 railroads crisscrossed the Northwest. But shortly after, the boom was followed by a five year depression raising the unemployment rate to 3 million. Focusing on the economy more and more railroads, factories and mills were built. This let to exploitation of natural resources and workers. Child labor and industrial accidents were quite common. Lung diseases were a consequence from working in coal mines and breathing in the dust. The more workers suffered the richer the industrial leaders became. That was the beginning of unionizing with little success because of racial and ethnic issues for one and also because of the gap between the skilled and common laborers. The mistreatment of workers led to 37,000 violent and bloody strikes between 1881 and 1905 with nearly 7 million participants. During this time of constant changes, inequity, and competition “Looking Backward” was welcomed by many who longed for a harmonious society. The novel is a utopian fiction set in Boston of 1887. The main character and also narrator Julian West, a member of the upper class, provides the reader with some information about
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Nguyen 3 himself and the state of society he lives in. The reader learns that West is engaged but fears that the protests of the working class will interrupt their schedule so he decides with his fiancée to move up the date. West returns home and prepares for his sleep. Being an insomniac he uses a special procedure to fall asleep. Only his servant and doctor know of his problem and how to awaken him from his sleep. Falling asleep after a long day West is awoken by three voices and is told that it is the year 2000 and West was preserved in his chamber for 113 years. Dr. Leete and his family now live on West’s land. It is Dr. Leete who informs West about the changes that occurred during his absence. America in the year 2000 seems to be a utopia. The government
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Looking Backward - Nguyen 2 In the following Im going to...

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