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Looking Backward

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1. General description

Looking Backward is a great piece of writing by all standards.. As a writer, Edward Bellamy through Looking Backward expresses his opinion of society, social management and governance. Indeed, Edward Bellamy was not privileged to a political platform to make his views and manifesto heard, because he was not a politician. He was not also privileged to a pulpit to make his doctrines and beliefs heard, because he was not a pastor. He could not also propagate his ideas and concepts through music, because he was not a musician. As a writer, however, Edward Bellamy's  great advantage was his talent, and audience actually staged what is seen from the very impulse of the books as his personal views and perception of America in those days and in days to come. Writing Looking Backward in the late 19th century, in 1888 to be exact, Edward Bellamy compares social life as well as governance in those days to how he perceived it should be in the next century ahead of him.

2. Expression of existing situation

Making his expressions of the prevailing situation in the present time (19th century) clear, Edward Bellamy uses Looking Backward in a way that reflects not just a normal day-to-day family experience but a larger experience from a nationalist point of view. For instance, we see a true love relationship between Julian and Edith Bartlett. This perceives a very usual relationship that continues to be the central theme of most of his books. Edward Bellamy, however, build on this point further, bringing out issues of pressing concern. The strategy used in expressing his views and opinion on the existing situation was through regular dialogue between various characters, particularly between Julian and Edith Bartlett. He also gives a lot of responsibility to the persona in trumpeting most of these concerns.  Some of the major concerns expressed in the book include the persistently larger gap that existed between the rich and poor in those days. The persona actually lamented and wondered if the gap could ever be narrowed. The persona somewhat believed that there had been a deliberate attempt by the government to create the artificial gap between the rich and poor through systems such as education. It is in this direction that the writer wrote: “It is an education in self-seeking at the expense of others, and no society whose citizens are trained in such a school can possibly rise above a very low grade of civilization."  One other point that the writer also expressed as pertained to his days was the abuse of the basic rights of employees. This assertion was trumpeted by the repeated acts of neglecting the demands of employees. So, as far as his generation was concerned, the writer was simply not happy with what was going on.

3. Expression of improved future

Once he was not pleased with the existing system, the writer would make his own suggestions clear, and this is one area that has made the book, Looking Backward, so popular over the years. This is because the writer used science fiction, which is naturally scintillating to most lovers of his novels and writings in general.  The writer was not wrong with this concept, because he used the strategy of dreaming or trance to push a person in several years – and, indeed, twelve decades ahead of his time. It would be noted that once a person is dreaming, he or she has no control over what he or she should or will see and so is able to see anything without much grudge. With this freedom, the writer portrayed what can be best described as USA in the perspective of Edward Bellamy. This is because the dream was used to bemoan the existing government system and rather portray what the writer referred to as nationalism: though it was a typical case of socialism the writer was championing. The writer expressed his wish for a public capital economy, which put a lot of power in the hands of the central government so that the distribution of wealth could be equal and reciprocal. It is not surprising, therefore, that when the dreamer found himself in the year 2000, he did not have a sight of poverty that existed a century back. There was also the hope for the end of the war with politicians becoming more concerned with the interests of citizens by ending poverty and disease.  There was also a hope of clean and beautiful America, because the future, the dreamer found himself in, was indeed clean and beautiful. Even more, the writer portrayed the end to corruption of all sorts.

4. Conclusion and Reflections

Since Looking Backward is a book of hope for America as to how America should look like in the year 2000, and we had already crossed the year 2000, the best form of reflection that can be done is to ask whether the hopes of the writer, who actually did the writing over a century before the 2000, became true. Whether dead or alive, Edward Bellamy would have a lot to laugh and cry about as America welcomed the year 2000 and the 21st century in general. For instance, portraying technological advancement would have been a prophecy come true, as well as the clean and beautiful status gained by America today. These two would have certainly made the writer laugh, but there would have been some serious disappointment, such as the fact that there had not been any significant change of system of governance at the year 2000. Again, America continued to be engaged in series of wars in years leading to the 2000 and years after 2000. Corruption has also not ended and so this would have been a failure. Concluding, it would be said that most of the expressions of Edward Bellamy for the 21st century are feasible and prudent. For this reason, they should be championed at all cost by American people.

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