Public Health and Nineteenth-Century Literature Essay

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Public Health and Nineteenth-Century Literature

"To envy nought beneath the ample sky; to mourn no evil deed, no hour misspent and, like a living violet, silently return in sweets to heaven what goodness lent, then bend beneath the chastening shower content."
-Elliot

The concerns and problems of the people living in nineteenth century England differed dramatically from those that eventually challenged those living in the same place during the 20th century. During the nineteenth century the English were plagued with many epidemics, but lacked the knowledge and capability to successfully treat and eliminate these diseases. London, like other British cities, had appalling sanitary conditions. These conditions were responsible for a
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Further, they questioned whether a common strand was responsible for the fever which accompanied all of the diseases. In attempting to answer these questions the physicians of the period examined such factors as: (1) dependence upon certain atmospheric conditions; (2) obedience to similar laws of diffusion; (3) all infesting the same localities; (4) all attacking the same classes of people; and (5)all increased in severity in unsanitary conditions. (Pelling, 64).

The General Board of Health of London produced a report on cholera in 1850. The primary purpose of the report was to indicate that the pattern of the epidemic had confirmed the predilations of the metropolitan sanitary commissioners. That is, that cholera could be prevented if closer attention was paid to sanitary conditions. Specifically, if problems such as overcrowded living conditions, filth, dampness, dirty water, drain pipes in poor condition, and improper storage and preparation of food were addressed. (Pelling, 78).

In order to understand the epidemics which dominated the nineteenth century one must listen to the voices of the time. These voices speak of factory workers being forced to work incredibly long hours in filthy conditions for very little money, several families living together in one room apartments with no running water.

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