metropolitan meat market

This week’s post is focused on Smithfield Market. Through my research for my final paper, it’s been fascinating to learn about the history of the market as well as Bartholomew Fair.

In both Wordsworth’s and Dickens’ pieces, Smithfield Market comes up. It is quite strange, however, that even during the good times, which was Bartholomew Fair, Wordsworth found that activity strange and repulsive even, animalistic and barbaric.

With Wordsworth, his piece follows circular time as he walks through London and takes in the sights, only to realize that the city is much too noisy and busy for him. He finds a nook where there is grass and quiet, and enjoys his time in that area much more than in the surrounding area. Being from the countryside, it is a stark difference. At the end of his piece, he is more than excited to leave and go back to what he enjoys most: peace and quiet in the countryside.

However, in Oliver Twist, the story follows linear time, ultimately leading to a happy ending where the bad guys are given proper punishment and Oliver ends up where he belongs in high society. In that novel, also, Smithfield Market is portrayed as disgusting and filthy.

It makes me question how it can be that two stories that follow completely different modes of time still portray one place the same way. Both have a negative depiction, and it seems to me that Smithfield never leaves circular time, staying in its old ways and roots until the fair is eventually shut down because of the crimes that happen while it goes on. Even on an every day basis with the meat market, the same crooks walk around and do the same things. London continues to grow and modernize, but the market stays in the past. Wordsworth believes that these people of the fair are animals, and it’s beginning to look like he could be right. I look forward to developing ideas and learning about how the area itself developed, and I’m excited to see the timeline as I write this paper and make more connections.

Smithfield Market today.

It’s absolutely crazy to even think that a place with such great history still exists today, and the change from just photographs is stunning. The featured image is one of old day Smithfield, and the photo above is a glimpse of how it looks today. Structurally, it looks the same, but here’s to hoping that the conditions aren’t.


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