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The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Historical Context

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During what is commonly termed the "Industrial Revolution," England witnessed the explosion of capitalism in the economy of the British Empire. Adam Smith had published his Wealth of Nations in 1776, but it took nearly a hundred years for what he called the "invisible hand" of individuals pursuing their own self-interest for their accumulating wealth to have an appreciable effect on the British economy and thus on the everyday lives of individual Britons. By the time Dickens was writing, mills, factories, and workshops had sprung into being in every major city, attracting menial laborers from the agricultural environs to the cities, where they hoped to earn a better livelihood. As Dickens chronicled, for the majority of workers, such hopes went most dismally unmet. It was the factory owners and managers who profited from Smith's capitalist ideas, while the average workingman, woman, and child suffered in ways they...

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This section contains 714 words
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The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.