Thursday, January 17, 2008

Graded Post #1 -Davis

In life everyone is just trying to get ahead and make it to the next day. This is never more apparent then is the workplace. Everyone has a job that they either love or hate, but they show up every day, do their work and go home only to return the next day and do it all over again. This monotonous life is lead by millions of people around the world. People who go about their life miserable because they have fallen into a horrible cycle of perpetual work. Marx describes how people use a tool or machine and the machine in return ends up making use of them. This is true in many industrial factories. “In the factory we have a lifeless mechanism which is independent of the workers, who are incorporated into it as its living appendages.” (Marx)

In Life in the Iron Mills Davis describes the unfulfilling life of several men who work long hours in a mill. They often go to work drunk and do not focus on their tasks. The men seem to live to work and work to live. They are cooped up at work and seem to never leave.

“The old man, like many of the puddlers and feeders of the mills, was Welsh,--had spent half of his life in the Cornish tin-mines. You may pick the Welsh emigrants, Cornish miners, out of the throng passing the windows, any day. They are a trifle more filthy; their muscles are not so brawny; they stoop more. When they are drunk, they neither yell, nor shout, nor stagger, but skulk along like beaten hounds. A pure, unmixed blood, I fancy: shows itself in the slight angular bodies and sharply-cut facial lines. It is nearly thirty years since the Wolfes lived here. Their lives were like those of their class: incessant labor, sleeping in kennel-like rooms, eating rank pork and molasses, drinking--God and the distillers only know what; with an occasional night in jail, to atone for some drunken excess. Is that all of their lives?”

She describes how work consumes most of their life and how the working class has no way of escaping the machine work. Davis describes industrial labor as being arduous and daunting where as Twain describes industrial labor as a big revelation in technology and how great it is that industry is possible. Davis describes the horrible life that technology has brought and how people become slaves to the machines that they operate. Twain describes how useful and necessary technology and machines are to modern times. When Twain’s character returned to more “primitive” time he could not understand how they could live without all the conveniences that he was used to. Both authors are similar when they describe how technology is present in everything that occurs. Everyone is dependent on new innovations and becomes a slave to them.

Marx takes the side of Davis when he describes the theory of industrial labor because he comments on how people depend on machines and how machines depend on people. Davis describes how people become almost like a machine. They have no emotions when they are drunk and tired at work. They act like machines doing the same boring thing all day. They basically become lifeless like a machine. The workers want to bring change and escape their working class lives and stop working for money alone. They want to live a more free life and live to be happy.


Life in the Iron-Mills

by Rebecca Harding Davis

Marx, Capital 548

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

In this relatively short post, you're being pulled in multiple directions. You are pointing out a difference between Twain and Davis, along with a similarity between Davis and Marx. You also spend some time and effort on some strange generalizations (Is Bill Gates really "just trying to get ahead and make it to the next day," for instance), along with a genuinely long quote from Davis.

My point is that by putting effort in several different directions, you don't really accomplish much: rather than having an ambitious, focused argument, you end up doing a writeup of some differences and similarities - without examining some of the complications you might have looked into, like Davis' web of religious references, for instance, or the role of art in Davis.

More focus should be your goal for next time.