Victoria Atkinson on Class & Horror

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Underneath the smog of London lie the true horrors of English society.  When imagining London most people think of the Queen, telephone boxes, double-decker buses, and many other stereotypical images that pertain mainly to the upper tiers of civilization.  What most forget to realize is the existence of the city’s underclass.  The images in the collage depict the lower levels of society that many people forget about and the repulsive aspects of the city that many refuse to acknowledge.

The burned Union Jack signifies the class divisions that plague society in London.  As seen in some of the images there is prostitution, homelessness, rioting, and separation of rich and poor through housing situations.  This problem of poverty is deeply rooted in the history of London as the working- class laborers, such as chimney sweeps and sewer laborers, have always been regarded as lesser people.  The problem has been portrayed through art too, as seen in Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s comic book From Hell (1999), which portrays the serial murders of Jack the Ripper, and Walter Sickert’s painting What Shall We Do for the Rent? (c. 1908) which depicts the possible images Camden Town Murders.  The horrors of London are a completely separate world from the London much of the world sees.  The problem of class division is a historically based issue in the city, continues to be one today, and will linger into the future of London as a center of civilization and life in Europe and in the world.


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