"Down and out in Paris and London" by Orwell

Essay by JadCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 1996

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The story of 'Down And Out In Paris And London' deals with the author's experience with tramps and the poverty stricken in Paris and London in the 1920's. He lives with them on equal terms and suffers the same hardships and tribulations.

Orwell shows great compassion for the plight of the poor and feels that society is very unfair in their criticism and judgment of the tramps and beggars that roam the streets. He feels that these people are victims of their circumstances. To be belligerent towards tramps is no fairer than to be that way towards invalids and the handicapped, in that they are that way not because they want to be, but because of their circumstances. In this essay we will explore the characteristics and personality of a person who lives below the poverty line. Through the author we get a very keen insight into this area of human experience.

Orwell feels that beggars and tramps have unfair labels and stereotypes attached to them. For example, most people think of tramps as being dangerous. About that Orwell says:

'Quite apart from experience, one can say a priori that very few tramps are dangerous, because if they were dangerous they would be treated accordingly. A casual ward will often admit a hundred tramps in one night, and these are handled by a staff of at most three porters. A hundred ruffians could not be controlled by three unarmed men. Indeed, when one sees how ramps let themselves be bullied by the work house officials, it is obvious that they are the most docile, broken-spirited creatures imaginable. '(p. 204)

About the term 'drunkard' Orwell disagrees also saying:

'Or take the idea that all tramps are drunkards -- an idea ridiculous on the face of it. No doubt many...