Sybil (novel)

Sybil (novel)

"Sybil, or The Two Nations" is an 1845 novel by Benjamin Disraeli. Published in the same year as Friedrich Engels's "The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844", "Sybil" traces the plight of the working classes of England. As the title suggests, Disraeli is interested in dealing with the horrific conditions in which the majority of England's working classes lived — or, what is generally called the Condition of England Question.

The book is a roman à thèse, or a novel with a thesis — which was meant to create a propagandistic furor over the squalor that was plaguing England's working class cities.

Disraeli's novel was made into a silent film called "Sybil" in 1921, starring Evelyn Brent and Cowley Wright.

The subtitle, "The Two Nations", has five main sources:

# Plato writes in "The Republic" that each city contains two cities "warring with each other, one of the poor, the other of the rich."
# 1805: Charles Hall writes, "The people in a civilised state may be divided into different orders; but for the purpose of investigating the manner in which they enjoy or are deprived of the requisites to support the health of their bodies and minds, they need only be divided into two classes, viz., the rich and the poor."
# 1835: Alexis de Tocqueville writes of "two rival nations" (the rich and the poor).
# 1841: William Channing writes, "In most large cities there may be said to be two nations, understanding as little of one another, having as little intercourse as if they lived in different lands."
# 1845: Engels writes that the working class and the bourgeoisie are like "two radically dissimilar nations, as unlike as difference of race could make them."

Disraeli's interest in this subject stemmed from his involvement in the Chartist movement, which may be called the most successful failure of Victorian England. Thomas Carlyle sums up the movement in his 1839 essay "Chartism". The essay begins by stating, "A feeling very generally exists that the condition and disposition of the Working Classes is a rather ominous matter at present; that something ought to be said, something ought to be done, in regard to it." Chartism failed as a parliamentary movement (bills in Parliament were twice stuck down); however, five of the six central tenets of Chartism would become a reality during the 19th century. The only one never to become a reality would be Annual Parliaments.

Chartism demanded:
# Universal suffrage for men
# Secret Ballot
# Removal of property requirements for Parliament
# Salaries for Members of Parliament (MPs)
# Electoral districts
# Annually elected Parliament


*Sybil Gerard
*Charles Egremont
*Lord Marney
*Lord Henry Sydney
*Lord de Mowbray
*Lady St. Julians
*Marchioness of Deloraine
*Baptist Hatton
*Aubrey St. Lys
*Dandy Mick
*Walter Gerard (Sybil's father)
*Stephen Morley
*Mr. Mountchesney

External links

*gutenberg|no=3760|name=Sybil, or The Two Nations

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