Week 5 – Production digestion and waste

This week’s readings were interesting and all over the place. In The Expedition of Humphry Clinker we see the author write about the happenings of the family from each of their own perspectives through the use of letters. I found this a bit hard to read, much like Shakespeare it takes a few once over’s to get the hang of it. As I read further I started to like this style of writing, it allows the audience an inside into each of the characters and not just the main person. The first character I chose to focus on is Lydia Melford Clifton, we see her write to Mrs. Jermyn asking her to allow Lydia to “disburden her heart”. Lydia seems to think of Mrs. Jermyn as a parent figure in her life. As you continue to read the letter one gets the notion that Lydia cares about the people who have helped in through her life as well as caring what they think about her and her actions. Tabitha, on the other hand, seems to value clothes and materialistic items more so than the people in her life. In her letter we see her asking for her possessions which is opposite what we saw in the letter which Lydia wrote. Lydia seems to have been maybe brought up in a lower class house one, she has more of an appreciation for people than does Tabitha. Like others with wealth, Tabitha seems only concerned with personal comfort and possessions.
One thing that really caught my attention was the idea of the bath today and the connection to the location of Bath. The idea that bathing and general cleanliness was a thing of the lower classes during the time period is strange, why would one want to smell? I began to think maybe it was they felt the smell was something only attained by a higher class? More notable or easily remembered if you smelt? I’m not sure but it’s interesting none the less. Continuing through the lecture we start to learn that the wealthy started to value cleanliness, not for the reasons we do today but for the health benefits. This tradition continues today, we see spas in almost every city or town because they are known to help extract impurities from your body. The only difference now is most grown adults bath (for hygiene) on a regular basis. This brings up La Portes claim that “The hygienist is a hero” I think the answer to this is that when we think hero we think someone out of the ordinary, someone who is willing to push the boundaries of human expectation. Back in the 1600 and 1700s someone in the upper class who was willing to say that being clean was a good thing, could be seen as a hero. In response to the question in the lecture, “how might LaPorte’s notions render the Swift and Smollet as hygienists in their own right?” It might render them as hygienists because they were willing to write about this very unclean and almost disgusting part of being human.

wc 515


2 thoughts on “Week 5 – Production digestion and waste

  1. I also picked up on Tabitha’s materialism throughout the novel and thought it was interesting to compare her to Lydia. After reflecting on her place in the novel, the concerns that seem to burden other characters are not nearly as pronounced throughout her writing. I think this also lends her to be more of a reliable source of information, but we will see as the story continues.
    On the topic of hygiene, it was strange to me to learn that the wealthy did not always value cleanliness. It would make the most sense to me that being clean and comfortable would be preferable! Perhaps we can take from this a lesson on class itself. What is seen to be high class can oftentimes be very taxing, and can often times be totally arbitrary. From this perspective, the benefits of being “high class” seem less enchanting.

  2. I wanted to offer a few additional resources on bathing in the Georgian era as there seems to be some interest there. It’s not that the wealthy were dirty, per say, they would utilize towels or sponges and a wash basin to rub off the dirt. They would didn’t not submerge the body (the way we do in a bath or a shower today). Perhaps it was because heating tubs of water took time and cost money in fuel.There are other hypothesis that become naked and soaking was considered sexually debauched.
    here’s some additional information for reading:
    Some “fun” facts: http://listverse.com/2012/10/22/10-revolting-facts-about-the-18th-century/

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