Originally Posted by Barnaby
The work - which is well crafted - just got me thinking, which is a credit to it. I tend to view alcoholism as a consequence of the miserable living conditions to which these people were exposed rather than the cause. But I suppose they fuel each other.
Thank you, Barnaby. I'm glad it made you think.
Well, alcoholism still can ruin lives today, just as any addiction can do so. I think people born into poverty may become alcoholics, or may work very hard to escape their condition. People from other stations in life might slip into poverty either through their own poor decisions, or due to misfortune -- that still happens today, if you speak to homeless people.
In Victorian times, women and children who lost the head of their household might end up in workhouses or orphanages unless the mother was able to remarry. If she was able to work herself, as a seamstress, laundress, cleaning woman, the family might manage.
And there was factory work too, though the conditions were often unsafe and the hours very long.
All of these occupations were preferable to the street prostitute's lot in life, of course. Annie Chapman was somewhat fortunate in that her husband sent her some money, and she was able to do some embroidery and other small tasks to get by. She didn't take to prostitution until after he died and the allowances stopped coming.