FYI: Posts will be sparse around here until I replace my laptop.... Coming back to work after Christmas break apparently was too hard and it quit on me!

17 December 2011

the life of Charlotte Melarn - a character sketch

A while back someone asked to read some of my writing from my history class. Here is a short character sketch that I wrote when we were studying the industrial revolution. (originally a ppt presentation with photos and works cited, but I didn't take the time to copy all that into the post...) 
The following is my own work--please don't copy. 

      The biting wind snapped at the passersby as they hurried down the street in the fading evening light. Charlotte Melarn shivered as she drew her shawl closer and walked closer to the looming brick buildings. Sighing she remembered former days of old when she didn’t have to walk the distance between the factory and her house. When the loom she operated wasn’t in the crowded and noisy factory but in her own little cottage. Reaching her door she smiled as she opened it, realizing how blessed her life had been these many years.

      Born into a comfortable weaving family in 1772, Charlotte grew up learning the skills of a weaver. As the oldest of seven children, she grew up with many responsibilities. In 1790, Charlotte married Edward Melarn who was also a weaver. They led a comfortable life those first few years as it was the middle of the ‘golden years’ for their trade. (Radcliffe) The average wage in the mid 1790’s was £1 10s a week. (Peacock) In 1792, their first child, Samuel, was born. He was to be the oldest of their five children. The family was able to have a small garden alongside their cottage as well as a cow. (Radcliffe) These were indeed the ‘golden years.’

      By 1803 the business was slowing down due to the increase in usage of the power looms. The power loom was invented in 1785 by Rev. Edmund Cartwright. (Peacock) In 1808 the Weavers’ Minimum Wage Bill was rejected. By now wages were down to 8s for an eighty-four hour week. (Peacock) The family was still doing well and managed through the financial difficulties. One by one, all of the children married and moved to their own homes.

     In 1832, Charlotte and Edward finally gave up their business. They could not keep going at only 5-7s a week even thought they were working over fifteen hours a day. (Peacock) They moved to the nearby city and found work at the factory operating power looms. The work was not as pleasant as it had been in their little cottage, but it was work.

     The door opened and closed, waking Charlotte from her musings. Edward was home and it was time to put supper on the table. As she brought the food to the table she remembered that they had always managed just fine and she was sure they would continue to do so, whatever might happen.


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