The Luddites

By: Harrison and Pierce

Who were the Luddites?

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The Luddites were 19th century English textile workers that feared the new wave of developed labor-economizing technologies, such as the spinning frame and power loom. These new technologies soon placed those same textile workers out of a job, and combined with other social problems of the era, soon led to the short-lived Luddite Movement. Remember, this is during the english revolution. Not the American one.

  • Fun Fact: The term 'Luddite' is often used to describe, sometimes sarcastically, someone who fears or suppresses the progress of technology.
  • Fun Fact #1: The name 'Luddite' supposedly emerged when the disgruntled workers of a hosiery factory wrote a letter to their boss signed ' Ned Ludd'.
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The Luddite movement in England

  • The Luddite movement was a movement by english farmers in order to revolt against the technological progress of England via very violent acts.
  • An example of this is the violent murder of William Horsfall. William Horsfall was a mill owner, and three Luddites, led by George Mellor, assassinated him by shooting him in the groin. The three men were later arrested.
  • The movement as a whole came to a stop following a mass trial by the British government of over sixty men regarding the movement. Some of the men were not even directly involved in the movement, but the men faced harsh punishments, such as being shipped to penal colonies, or executed, in order to deter further actions by Luddites.

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The Luddites and Frankenstein

The destructive and short-lived adventures of the Luddites pair nicely with the commentary on industrial growth and technological progress that Mary Shelly makes in Frankenstein.

  • The Luddite 'movement' was between the years 1812-1816, which is just before the publishing of Frankenstein.

The problems--put lightly-- that Dr. Frankenstein's monster causes can also be seen as an allusion to the problems that the Luddites ascribed to the new machines that were to replace them as workers. Additionally, in much the same way that the luddites attempted to rid the world of progress by destroying thousands of machines, Frankenstein's monster murders several people.

The important part in the statement above is that in both events (the Luddites destroying the machines and Frankenstein's monster killing several characters and feeling no remorse) technology wins. In the ladder this is the case as the Luddite movement was a general debacle and achieved nothing.