Childhood and the Treatment of Children
Children all over the world are treated differently at different times, during different centuries. Some children are raised by both of their parents in a good environment, with good conditions, and with a good education. Those kids are well taken care of and are happy if love is added to all that. The place that they live in becomes perfect. There are other kids, though, that have no loving parent, or no parents at all; no beautiful warm home, or no home at all; no healthy food, or no food at all and no good education, or no education at all. They have to work all day just to survive and get a little bit of something to eat. These children, unlike the other kids, are treated badly, abused and used. As time changes, people change: sometimes for the worst and sometimes for the better. Even now, children are mistreated in other countries and even here in America.
Pip is left without parents to be raised by his sister. His sister, Mrs. Joe, is twenty years older than Pip. She is raising Pip “by hand”, meaning she lays her hand on him whenever possible, which is all the time. Pip is treated very badly, but at least he has a friend who would stand up to him; Joe is Mrs. Joe Gargery’s husband. Joe wants Pip to have a good education even though he himself didn’t have one, but Mrs. Joe, on the other hand, thinks it’s not a good idea and a waste of time. Pip does things like other kids do; he plays, eats, and goes to sleep. The food that he is given is healthy very tasteful, that it makes me want to eat it. His room, even though it’s very small because it’s right under the roof, is his own room, where he has privacy. The conditions that he lives in are ok to live in; they’re not the best, but not the worst either. How Pip lives, I would say, is that he has less than half of the good stuff, like the food and home and more of the bad stuff, like not really a loving sister and not a very good education, so these conditions are right in the middle (Dickens, Charles; The Great Expectations).
Unlike the children in the poem, “The Cry of the Children,” where the kids are made to work all day in the factories and mines, without anyone there to help them and protect them against the child labor, Pip doesn’t have to work at all, to my knowledge. The children, as Browning describes them, are tired, weak, and sick, with pale faces, and sad eyes. They cry and weep, yet no one hears them and don’t want to listen to them at all. Education, in this case, is out of the picture and is not even mentioned anywhere, because they need those children to work for they all day long without any rest. They don’t even have any time or energy left to just be kids and play out in the sun on the meadows with the beautiful butterflies and caterpillars (Browning, Elizabeth).
In the book, The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot, Mr. Tulliver wants his boy to get a good education, just like Joe wants Pip to get a good education. Mr. Tulliver wants the best for his kid, but for his daughter, he doesn’t care much. Still, their daughter gets the proper things and is taken care of, plus she has time and opportunity to read books and play outside by the water. This environment is better than what Pip has and much, much better than what the children have that have to work in the mines and factories.
There is a big contrast in The Old Nurse’s Story, where one child has all the love in the world, even though both her parents died, and has a nice, big, warm home, with food to eat, and a bed to sleep, and the other child only has a mother who cares about her, while everyone else hates her. Miss Rosamond lives happily and gets everything she needs, while the other girl was thrown out into the cold and freezing night, without any food or anyone to help them (Gaskell, Elizabeth). All these kids were treated differently. Some were treated like royalties, while others were treated like dirt or robots that have no feelings.