Free «Analytical Assessment of Dickens' Early Reactions to American Life and Institutions» Essay Sample

Mr. Dickens was a famous man that was markedly recognized in the United States. He had high expectations about America, about the lifestyle and living standards of the Americans. He planned a trip to visit the famous land of America. However, what he saw in America was not what he expected all along. He arrived in America only to discover another world of mannerisms that were not acceptable. His visit then became a time of discovery of a new world. As he was in America, he visited many cities. He wonders as he was going round at the way people turned and stopped to greet him. He says that he had to stop and meet hundreds of people who stopped to greet him. Dickens describes the trend of being greeted by many people as dehumanizing. He was highly displeased by the way people always gathered around to look and hear him speak.

He was more surprised at the way American young people behaved at dinner tables. There were no table manners in these people. His expectations are put to shock when one person comes in smoking weed at the tables. A person seems to smoke wherever he or she chooses. According to Dickens, he expected the Americans to have a high conduct of hygiene. This was poor hygiene compared to how the English people behaved in their country. These offensive habits angered Dickens he could not comprehend the behaviors of the American people. He says that America seems to have low moral standards compared to Britain. He describes this habit as one that can reduce someones appetite.

There was no hygiene concern or any social awareness in America. He fails to understand how the Americans can refer to poor morals behavior as an aspect of freedom. The American says that they have liberty to practice what they want. This is not like the British belief of good habits, sanitation and, modesty. This is what Dickens refers to as virtue which he does not find in America as he expected. He compares the unhealthy habit of smoking and spitting in public as a highly unacceptable habit in the English culture. He is taken aback as to how such a habit can be spread in the city. He argues that the ill habits in the society will always start with small misgivings such as lack of politeness, genuineness, and poor social observances. According to (Claybaugh 440), America seems to be remarkably different from British in terms of moral standards and social behaviors. Dickens comes to notice that there is a lot of freedom in America. According to his scrutiny, this is the reason as to why their social habits differ significantly from those of the English people.

Dickens is not pleased at the attitude of racism in America. He does not identify with the reasoning of the American government to support the rule of the white majority against the black Negros. As he travelled through to the next state in Baltimore, he is shocked at the height of slavery in the area. He is received by a servant who is a slave to his host. He is vey moved by this act of that slavery owner that he is filled with shame at this site. He is even ready to support the movement against slavery. However, he is taken a black by the people who were against the movement. The British offer help to the American including moral support and an example to copy of how the British people were able to deal with the issue of slavery.

Dickens visited the prisons of Philadelphia that impressed him. He records that the style to which these are maintained is impressive. However, Dickens recommends that they should also consider the young black children. He writes about the furniture that is used in the orphanages. The prisoners were allowed to have some comfort in their cubical. He recommends these to the reforms of the United States. He also notices the rule that is used in the prisons in Boston. The prisoners are not allowed to speak to one another; they call it the silent rule. The rule is to ensuring that criminal habits are minimized by ensuring that there is no exchange of ideas in prison. As he recommends the set up of Boston prisons as the future of British prisons, he is shocked at the reform institute in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Eastern Penitentiary puts prisoners in isolation. The prisoners are confined in the cells to the end of their imprisonment.

Dickens is more also disappointed by the democracy of the United States. He says that the democracy of Americans was compared to dollars. The rich person could practice democracy in the country. The attitude of inequality could not allow democracy to operate in the states. Many people had dehumanized habits like slavery and racism which they practiced as a social custom. For a moment Dickens was proud of having an English background. He even changed his thoughts about the British system. Dickens was convinced that the systems he had encountered in other countries were slow but much better than the American system. He liked the thought of being more English than American.


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