Introduction: The significance of Industry and Idleness

In 1747, William Hogarth, the engraver, created the famous moral series
Industry and Idleness which he said was "calculated for the use and instruction of youth." . This series aimed at a public of apprentices which Hogarth knew very well, having been an apprentice himself, and being a governor of the Foundling Hospital which had been built in order to have the foundlings apprenticed. Thus, as opposed to very sophisticated series such as Marriage a la Mode (1743) or progresses like A Harlot's Progress (1731) or The Rake's Progress (1733-34), which aimed at an educated public, Industry and Idleness has a more immediate, pointed meaning. As a matter-of-fact, Hogarth wanted this particular series to be more affordable to less wealthy people and especially the apprentices’ masters who could then hang the prints in their workshops as an example of the right way to behave. Referring to that particular point, in the art section of the Evening Standard, concerning the Tate Gallery exhibition for Hogarth's tercentenary, Brian Sewell says : "If, in the Renaissance, the paintings that embellished churches were the Bible of the illiterate poor, then in 18th century England Hogarth's engravings were powerful political and social propaganda for those who could not read, as well as those who could." . Hence, in order to make the engravings cheaper, Hogarth is said to have left aside all the intricate engraved devices, tricks and details he usually resorted to - those details that made of him more than a mere engraver.
However, this series is more subtle than it seems at first sight. Therefore, it is crucial to look at the two apprentices' story by studying the different graphic references and codes that the artist has slyly inserted within the plates. As a matter-of-fact, this study can show us interesting facts about contemporary society. It can tell us a lot about eighteenth-century manners and aspects of life and, above all, about the intended moral meaning of the plates. Then, we’ll move to a potentially deeper analysis where we shall try to find out more about the artist himself. We'll try and see how his own desires have taken part in an alternative reading of the series in which the values depicted within the initial moral reading can be challenged and thus reveal the hidden discourse of
Industry and Idleness.


An iconological Reading of Industry and Idleness

Before starting the study of the different plates, there is a very important fact to bear in mind. When Hogarth engraved moral series, or prints depicting London life and people, he knew that his work had a very high dramatic value. Eighteenth-century people would not see the prints just as pictures nice to look at, yet remote from what they lived, but on the contrary they saw them as violent and very often disturbing projections of their own reality. Thus, for instance, when Sir John Soane the architect, acquired
The Rake's Progress (1733-34), he decided to hide it behind some sort of massive inside shutters so that children could not see the pictures and because he, himself, could not stand the sight of such a violent depiction of everyday life...

first plate of Industry and Idleness shows the obvious point of the whole work very clearly. Each apprentice is working at his loom. On the right-hand side of the engraving, stands Francis Goodchild the industrious apprentice. On his face the keen concentration on the work he is doing can be seen, and a faint smile on his lips shows the pleasure he is getting from it. On the floor near his loom there is a little book entitled "The Prentices Guide". This book was often offered to boys when they signed their indenture. In it, they could read warnings against running away, and basic moral lessons on how they should behave towards their masters and their work. This book is a clue on how willing he is to learn. The window which is in the centre of the engraving spreads the light of day on him as if to attract the reader's eyes on this character. On the contrary, on the left-hand side of the engraving Tom Idle stands in the shade. The same "apprentice's guide" that is lying next to Goodchild's loom can be seen at Idle's feet. But in what a state! It is torn apart. The boy has probably let the cat sharpen its claws on it. The expression on Idle's face is totally different from that of Goodchild. He seems to be yawning either with tiredness or boredom, or maybe is trying to see how the loom is working. Above the industrious apprentice's head, on the wall behind his loom, there is a ballad called "Whittington Ld Mayor" which is a reference to Dick Whittington, an historical figure, who had been Lord Mayor of London three times in Medieval times (1397, 1406 and 1419). The legend tells us that, as an apprentice, Whittington was running away from London when he thought he heard the bells ring "Turn again Whittington, Lord Mayor of London". It also tells us that his fortune was made when his cat, sent abroad on a merchant's ship, killed so many rats that the king of Barbary bought the animal for a large amount of money. The reference to this popular pantomime character tells us much about the future Hogarth has reserved to the industrious Goodchild and about the model the latter has chosen to follow. This story is also an important element of the hidden discourse of the series, so we have to keep it in mind.

As opposed to this, the future of Tom is far more uncertain. Above his head, not on a solid wall but on the wooden structure of the loom, a piece of paper is stuck. It is the ballad of "Moll Flanders". Here Hogarth makes an allusion to the novel written by Daniel Defoe in the form of a confessional autobiography. It is important to notice, for later in the study, that the full title of Defoe's book is The Fortunes and Missfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders Who Was Born in Newgate and During a Life of Continued Variety of Threescore Years Besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife, Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at Last Grew Rich, Lived Honest and Died a Penitent. Moll, the supposed author, was born in Newgate jail and she has fluctuating fortunes through her marriages and affairs, with prolonged periods in the London underworld and in the plantations of Virginia where her mother had been transported . In front of Tom, there is also a huge beer tankard - a good hint concerning his morals - on which the following words are written: "Spittle Fields". This tankard was placed here by Hogarth less to allow Idle to drink than to associate him with Spitalfields, an area to the east of the City, famous in the late seventeenth century and in the eighteenth century for the manufacture of silk. In fact, "By the 1720s Spitalfields had become, with Lyons and Nanking, one of the great silk centres of the world." . An important element in the success of the factories was the skill of the immigrant Huguenot weavers who started to immigrate into England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. But this place was very poor, much like a "ghetto" according to Roy Porter. Near Tom, attached to his loom, a smoking pipe can also be seen. Thus his models are Moll Flanders, beer and tobacco, all of which is not likely to please the third character on this plate, situated on the right-hand side, the two apprentices' master, Mr West. On this plate, he can be seen throwing angry stares at Tom while holding a cane, as if threatening the idle apprentice. Actually, masters were allowed to beat the apprentices - fortunately not to the point of causing death, even if this happened from time to time - as they were supposed to teach them discipline as well as a skill. So, apprentices were very often given the cane as a punishment. And that is a reason why many of them would run away. On the printed frame, two other sets of clues tell us about Idle's and Goodchild's respective fates. The first hints are graphic devices. On the top right-hand side, prolonging the master's stick, there is a kind of sceptre, a mace, the symbol of power. This mace, in particular, is that of the City of London. There is also an alderman's gold chain hanging from the mace and next to it, the sword of state. But, on the top left-hand side, there are ropes, a whip and some sorts of manacles, fetters. The second set of hints are the proverbs, quoted from The Proverbs in the Old Testament, written on the printed frame under each character (they appear all along the series associated with quotes from the Bible).
Thus, in this
first plate Hogarth obviously puts the idea of opposition and contrast in the centre. Indeed the codes are easy enough to decrypt the message Hogarth wanted to put through. In fact, Plate 1 could have been a whole in itself if the artist had only wanted to show that, when apprenticed, hard work is the way to success. But there is more than that to it, more than meets the eye. Thus, in the following plates, the opposition between the example to follow and the one to avoid, personified by the two apprentices, is still there and central though it is not shown on the picture since, from now on, the characters follow two different paths in life. Even though one's life makes a whole and hence cannot be opposed or even compared to anyone else's, as far as the simple notion of one's own choices is concerned, for practical purposes and because Hogarth has alternated Goodchild and Idle's stories, the following plates can be studied in pairs as follows (2/3) (4/5) (6/7) (8/9) and (11/12). Number 10 has to be studied separately as Idle and Goodchild are once again reunited on the same engraving.

The setting of Plate 2 is a church. Some critics say that it is St Martin-in-the-Fields as it is a City church that architecturally speaking looks most like it. However, the proper name of the church is of small importance as Hogarth's title for this engraving is "The Industrious' prentice performing the duty of a Christian". The stress is on the action, "performing", and the point of this plate seems to be all there in its title. This takes even more meaning if we give a look at Plate 3. As opposed to the other apprentice Idle doesn't attend the service, he does not perform his "duty". Now, in itself, this would be of little importance if Hogarth had not added signs of fate and destiny on the two plates, with a moral purpose. Hence, if we move back to Plate 2, we see that Goodchild, once again in the light, is with a girl who in fact is his master's daughter. They are singing from the same psalm book. The fact that this happens in a church is quite symbolic of what to expect for the couple. Another safe choice for Goodchild as, at that time, an apprentice who married his master's daughter was on the right way to inheriting the business. While Francis is "performing" his duty, Idle is "Playing in the Church Yard" with three pickpockets (on the finished drawing for this plate, the title is "the bad 'prentice at play in the churchyard with Pickpockets." which Hogarth has replaced on the print by the verse from the Proverbs). The setting is obviously linked to his fate. Hogarth draws the viewer's attention to a selection of human skulls and bones emerging from the ground all along the coffin Idle is lying on. There is also an open grave, a symbol which tells us that below Idle there is Hell, wide open and waiting for him. Behind him stands an irate churchwarden with upraised cane, ready to use his instrument of correction on the boy who is gambling on the Sabbath. Hogarth is still playing with symbols on the printed frame - a mace and a halter - in order to give hints about the eventual ends of Goodchild and Idle. However, at this point, we can notice that the way these symbols are placed on the frame is not apparently logical. Indeed, on Plate1, the fetters and whips were on Idle's side and the mace was on Goodchild's side. This sounds logical as, in the moral reading, the idle one has to be punished. However, Plates 2 and 3 revert this situation. The fetters are on Goodchild's side in the church when the mace is on Idle's side in the churchyard. The position of these two elements is going to vary all along the series. Thus, these symbols that, at first sight, seem to be clear signs of success or failure are in fact hints that suggest another reading. The ambiguities of the series are already beginning to take shape. However, for the first time, the opposition of the two characters and the choice they have made concerning their lives appears clearly. The message for the apprentices is also very clear.
Of course, this series is a "moral series" by means of which Hogarth aims at giving certain notions or lessons of morality to a certain category of people. Nonetheless, the fact is that there is another dimension to it, a more universal moral meaning in the sense that most of Hogarth's contemporaries could take the lesson for themselves even if they were not apprentices. In James Boswell's, Life of Johnson, an interesting allusion to this particular fact can be found. It is certainly made with humour but indeed, it shows us how the images used by Hogarth had this power to pervade one's mind and to remain imprinted there:

One sunday, when the weather was very fine, Beauclerk enticed him, insensibly, to saunter about all the morning. They went into a churchyard, at the time of divine service, and Johnson laid himself at his ease upon one of the tombstones. "Now, Sir, (said Beauclerk) you are like Hogarth's Idle Apprentice."

Anyway the character of Idle is, in a way, associated to evil as he is called "the bad 'prentice" by Hogarth himself. Thus, we now have a kind of manichean opposition between Good (child) and bad which will become even stronger in the following plates.

The story goes on with Plates 4 and 5. Now, we can see that Goodchild is climbing up the social ladder little by little. He is not working on the loom any more but is helping his master whose "Favourite" he is, being "entrusted" by him with the management of the small silk factory. If we look at the background of the print we can see that the tiny workshop of
Plate 1, where only two looms were installed, has developed into something much bigger. Now, in the room that the two men are overseeing, and to which West is pointing at, there are two women spinning and four - possibly five - others weaving. Now Goodchild has the keys of the cupboard where he can find the "day book" that he is holding. It is probably the factory ledger as Hogarth has provided the young man with a money-bag. Hogarth has also placed a symbolic pair of gloves that seem to be shaking hands, thus stressing the perfect understanding between Goodchild and his master and a partnership yet to come - an understanding that could already be seen through the posture of Mr West. On the left-hand side, a porter bearing the arms of the City of London is carrying four rolls of cloth. This last detail shows that West's business is productive and probably prosperous... A good prospect for Goodchild whose social improvement is shown graphically by the kind of platform he is standing on.

Of course, while life is getting better and better for the one, it's the contrary for the other. On
Plate 5 Tom Idle is "turned away and sent to sea" accompanied to the ship by his weeping mother. His indenture can be seen floating near the boat. There is no turning back possible for him. He is heading now with all his possessions in his chest to a ship that is waiting on the shore of Cuckold's point, a reach of the Thames between Limehouse and Greenwich reaches. One of the men who is also in the boat is pointing, with a kind of sadistic little grin, at something in the distance. At first glance, it seems that he is showing Idle the ship he's being sent to. But, in the direct line of his finger, a gibbet can be seen on the shore of the reach. It is another sign foreshadowing Idle's gloomy end. Still toying with the signs on the printed frame, Hogarth has now moved the ropes into the story proper. They can be seen hanging from the boat near Idle who is being tormented by another man dangling a cat-o'-nine tails, a sort of whip, thus sadistically showing Tom all the sufferings that are awaiting him on the ship. He is probably sent to the plantations of Virginia like Moll Flanders. It seems that corporal punishment is pursuing poor Idle. On Plate 1, there is the master who is about to give him the cane. On Plate 3, the churchwarden is ready to hit him with a stick, and now this man is waving a whip at him. All is there, the violence is not depicted but implied which is even worse as it leaves it all to the imagination of those who look at the prints. Most apprentices certainly knew what being given the cane felt like, as masters used this instrument of correction frequently. Therefore, Hogarth's drama must have been even more powerful to them as they certainly did not enjoy the perspective of a life associated to this kind of physical pain.

The story continues with
Plate 6. Goodchild is now "out of his time", meaning that he has finished his apprenticeship and, as a "reward" to this, he has married his master's daughter. The partnership foreseen on Plate 4 is now effective. It can be seen on the sign "Goodchild and West" - the order of the name on the sign shows that Goodchild's status within the factory has increased significantly. Goodchild and his wife are at the window, still wearing their night dresses as the sun has just risen, illuminating the different characters. The couple is drinking tea which, at that time, was a sign of wealth. Hogarth has even stressed Goodchild's good manners by really insisting on his erect little finger. The good apprentice is paying the musicians who have played a serenade for the newly wed couple outside the house. The custom was that butchers performed that function so that Hogarth has placed two of them in the print; they can easily be recognised as they are holding bones. Hogarth seems to have placed a device of derision here by showing two members of the orchestra having an argument. During the eighteenth century it was the tradition for a wealthy couple to give what was left of the wedding banquet to the poor. And indeed, that's exactly what they are doing, a servant is putting some food in the apron of a woman who is kneeling, on the door steps, with her baby on her back. On the left, there is a legless beggar who has a ballad called "Jesse or the Happy Pair. A New Song" to sell.

Life, of course, has not been so kind to Idle. He has now returned from the sea, and we find him "in a Garret with a common Prostitute". The girl is examining an earring. The other one lies on her lap with two watches and their chains. It is probably the small loot of Tom. On the floor can be seen alcohol and tobacco, the attributes given to Idle in plate one. But, most of all, and showing how low he has fallen, there are two pistols ready. This last detail added to the two planks that keep the door tightly closed, added to a lock and two bolts, is a clue telling us that Tom has probably made a few enemies after he has returned from the sea, and that constables are looking for him. His face and posture show that he has been terribly frightened by the cat which is seen falling down from the chimney, dislodging some bricks on its way, trying to chase the rat that is escaping on the left-hand side of the print. Idle is tense, anxious. He is the rat trying to keep away from the cat. Actually, the cat seems to be a recurring element of the series. It appears on
Plate 1, where it is sharpening its claws on Idle's loom. It's here again on Plate 4, bristling at the sight of the dog, and one last time on Plate 7. The first appearance of this emblematic character may be linked to the story of Dick Whittington - Goodchild's model - whose fortune has been made thanks to his cat. This means that the cat is associated to the industrious apprentice in a way that cannot really be explained at the moment, though it is later to make sense in the parallel story of the two characters. Anyway, this plate is probably a fairly accurate description of the conditions under which many of Hogarth's contemporaries had to live. Indeed, the room is in an awful condition: the plaster is dropping off the walls and ceiling, there are gaping holes in the floor which can remind us of the open grave on Plate 3 and once again tell the reader that Hell is not very far from Idle... The bed has lost its wood work at the foot and slopes to the ground. This detail is very interesting as it leads us to realise that there is more than mere fright in Idle's posture. Indeed, the way he is sitting up on the bed can be interpreted in another way, leading us implicitly to follow the direction of Idle's fate.

Hogarth's Drawings, Avalon Press,1948


(Figure 1)

As a matter-of-fact, in the original drawing (Figure 1), Hogarth had made Idle look in the reader's direction, and his hands were not at all in the same position. But, on the print the artist has moved Idle's face to a three-quarter position, and the position of the hands gives this effect of Tom sliding down to a place that frightens him and so, he is trying to refrain this fall by placing his hands forward. Therefore, this device used by Hogarth tells the reader that Tom's fall is not finished yet .

Goodchild's train of success is not bound to stop either. On
Plate 8, he has now "grown rich" and is "Sheriff of London", an office which was largely ceremonial. The scene is taking place in what supposedly is old Fish mongers' Hall, where an enormous feast is being held. Francis is sitting in the background, under a painting of William II . On the right-hand side of the print stands a crowd of sightseers and petitioners whom Hogarth has somehow enframed, and an officer who is holding a mace and a piece of paper which is a petition for Goodchild. On this paper the following words can be read: "To the Worshipful Goodchild Sheriff of London". This could be the end of the story for Goodchild, his ultimate promotion. But we must not forget that Dick Whittington is Francis' model. Moreover, Hogarth has introduced a sign telling the reader that the boy who once was apprenticed to a master weaver has not yet finished his social advancement. This hint is the statue that is situated between the windows (Figure 2). Indeed, the character who is immortalised there is Sir William Walworth, who was Lord Mayor of London during the fourteenth century.

(figure 2)

This character is especially known as being the one who wounded Wat Tyler - the leader of the Kentish rebels in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 - in a scuffle during a meeting with Richard II, and then had him beheaded. What is particularly interesting is that Walworth started as a London salt-merchant who became wealthy and was elected Sheriff of London in 1370. Four years later, he began his first term as Mayor... Anyhow, if we look closer to Goodchild and his wife, something is quite striking. As opposed to the front characters, Goodchild seems to remain very sober and composed, the couple even seems isolated. We are facing a paradoxical situation as we would expect Goodchild to enjoy his new position fully , but on the contrary he almost seems to be bored...

Meanwhile, Idle is again behaving wrongly "in a Night-Cellar" , where a fight is taking place, "with his Accomplice" (the accomplice being the same man, with the eye-patch and stripped hat, Tom was gambling with on
Plate 3 when he should have been at church). A man on the right is getting rid of a dead body with a bullet hole in the chest and blood flowing from it. We can assume that Idle is the killer, or has played an important part in the murder, as he has a pistol in his pocket - and another one lying at his feet - and that he is sharing what were probably the possessions of their victim with his accomplice. The girl he was in a garret with on Plate 7 has betrayed him. She is pointing at him while taking a coin from a constable who enters into the cellar in order to arrest Idle. His prospects are getting worse and worse and Hogarth has once again moved the hangman's noose into the print. Now, it is hanging from the ceiling in the background.
These two Plates, 8 and 9, are really interesting in terms of space as they clash with the preceding ones. As a matter-of-fact, if we look more carefully at
Plate 8, there is something that strikes the eye immediately. Hogarth has placed Goodchild so far in the background that we can only distinguish his figure and assume who he is. Instead, more or less on the left of the print, we are facing a lot of disgusting, ugly, members of the City establishment who are gobbling up their food as if they had not eaten for weeks. What is worth noticing is that if we look back at Goodchild's life and thus move backwards to Plate 6, on the left we have this horrible crippled beggar. On Plate 4, still on the left , there is the porter with his ridiculous, enormous nose. On Plate 2, on the left again, there is this witch-like old woman, the pew-opener. We can thus notice that Hogarth has placed all these ugly, negative characters on the left of the print. Hence Goodchild has to be either at the centre or on the right. And indeed, if we look again at the different prints, we can definitely see that from Plate 1 to Plate 6, he is always situated on the right. On Plate 8, he is situated in the centre. What about Tom Idle? on Plate 9, he is more or less in the centre of the plate. But in the preceding ones, he always appears on the left: in the workshop, in the church-yard, on the boat, in the garret. What is interesting is that in Idle's story there is, apparently, no significant character on the right of the prints. This leads to the question of the role of these left-hand side characters that can be found in the even number plates. Ronald Paulson - in Emblem and Expressions - has come up with an explanation. He calls these characters "repoussoir figures" and according to him, their function is to "stabilize the composition" and to lead "the viewer's eye into it, establishing its depth (...) The viewer's habit of left-right association with Idle and Goodchild leads him (...) to see the left-hand figure as another denizen of Idle's gross world, which Goodchild cannot escape even in the safety of the counting house, and the contention between these worlds is an aesthetic one now of beauty vs. ugliness".
However, Idle's world is not totally absent from the preoccupations of Goodchild. This is when the cat plays its part. Indeed, on Plate1, the cat seems to be harassing Idle, and it is here again running after the rat on
Plate 7. Goodchild, being associated with the cat, seems to be the one who is going to end up with the power. But Hogarth is also telling the reader that, whatever direction the two boys are taking, they are linked in a particular manner. Something of Idle is always here, facing Goodchild while something of Goodchild keeps tormenting Idle.

Plate 10 is the second and last time that Idle and Goodchild can be seen together. As it is said in the title of the plate, the industrious apprentice has become alderman of London. Idle - who is wearing manacles - is begging Goodchild for mercy, but the latter sits with his head turned away from the repentant law-breaker and is hiding his face with his left hand. Apparently, Goodchild is having pangs of conscience for having to sentence Idle to death. On Goodchild's right, a clerk is sitting at a desk and is writing down the evidence on a piece of paper that he has probably taken in the open drawer. On the paper can be read the following sentence: "to the turnkey of Newgate", the famous jail where Idle is probably going to spend some time before the execution takes place. On Idle's left his accomplice is standing, the one we have already met on Plate 3 and Plate 9. He is easily recognisable because of his striped cap and his eye-patch. He is swearing the oath falsely while the official who is holding the Bible is taking a bribe from a woman who is standing behind him. On the right, just behind Goodchild, stands Idle's mother who is weeping and talking to a stout beadle who is holding a staff of office. This staff doesn't seem to have been placed here with no particular intention. On the contrary, there is a sharp opposition between the stiffness of this pole and the poor Idle who is crouching in supplication. Hogarth may have used this device in order to stress Idle's posture. However, it seems that the beadle's staff has another purpose, as it is in fact cutting the composition into two parts. On one side, there is the woman who is giving a bribe, an official eagerly accepting it, the accomplice turned King's Evidence who is sending Idle to Newgate and then worse, and closer to the centre is the begging Idle. Thus there are four main characters on the left of the plate. On the right of the pole, stands the beadle who seems to tell the crying mother that nothing can be done to save her son, then comes Goodchild and the clerk. Again, there are four characters. Hogarth has then added different characters, forming a crowd. The features of some of them can be figured out, others are just vague shadows establishing a link between the two sides of the print. Indeed, the whole effect of the staff, cutting the print into two with an equal number of characters on each side, is one of careful balance in the composition. This balance suggests that Hogarth, though he has finally made Idle and Goodchild meet in this City court room, keeps a kind of separation between the two characters, as if he tried not to break the rhythm installed little by little by means of the painting of the preceding plates. In a way, he is trying to keep the same system of balance and binary opposition that he has used up to this stage of the story. However, if we are looking at the different parts separately, it is possible to notice that a direct causality chain is created between the two sides. As a matter-of-fact, on the left, the woman is bribing the official who then allows the accomplice to make a false oath, the accomplice thus sending Idle to Newgate. On the right the beadle is saying "no" to Idle's mother who is crying. Goodchild, looks as if he does not want to see, does not want to hear, but has to carry out what his function compels him to do. The final result is the clerk writing the note. But, even though it seems that Hogarth has created two parallel prints fused in one, he has also created a subtle causality chain that once again balances the whole print and gives it its completeness by linking the two sections. Once again, we can start from the woman who is giving the coin to the official who is closing his eyes on the accomplice's perjury. At that particular point, a small detail added in the engraving, can be seen linking the back of the accomplice to that of Idle's. Emerging from the crowd there is a small hand whose owner cannot be seen. This hand is pointing a finger accusingly at Idle, who is done for. If we draw a line through the print, following the axis of the finger, we would move from the accomplice to the pointing finger to Idle's hands joined in supplication, then to Goodchild's heart whose chest is massive and stiff - contrarily to Idle - and then to the hands of the clerk writing down Idle's sentence. However, nothing can be done for the idle. A faint feeling of death exhales from this court room. Sentencing someone to be hanged is common. There is no redemption possible.
Hogarth has placed all these fire buckets hanging from the ceiling. Really practical, that's true. But don't they look like rows of hangman's nooses with the heads still attached to them ? It really seems, that Hogarth has here included a slight criticism on the way justice practiced chain hanging. Anyway, Goodchild's posture seems to show regret, but it can also be interpreted as symbolic of Blind Justice , as he is hiding his face - the alderman has to act with equity, and not to take his own feelings into account - "Thou shall do no unrighteousness in Judgements", says the caption taken from Leviticus. Ironically enough, it seems that this is exactly what Goodchild is doing. As a matter-of-fact, by hiding and turning his face he is prevented from seeing the bribery that is going on.
Thus, the message for the apprentices is quite clear. The boy who gets the chance to be apprenticed, but who lets it go because of idleness and who finally falls into crime gets what he deserves - and even more. It is clear, that even though the series is supposed to be simplified as it is addressed to the uneducated classes, Hogarth is still toying with criticism of all sorts and in this particular plate, by playing with the idea of Blind Justice, he has included a harsh attack on the judicial system that was far from being fair. Roy Porter stresses this fact : "As legal reformers such as Colquhoun and Jeremy Bentham insisted, laws indiscriminately prescribing execution for murder and for lifting handkerchiefs were unlikely to hinder heinous crime [...] In the London area so called "trading justices" having bought their offices, milked them through fees and bribes". Horace Walpole himself declared "the greatest criminals of this town are the officers of Justice" . This might bring a little nuance on Goodchild's apparently positive success.

The story then reaches Plates 11 and 12. The first thing to notice is that the order that Hogarth has followed all along the story is reversed. Idle is the first one on the scene. Hanging from the printed frame, no more ropes or fetters but two skeletons. He is now going to be "Executed at Tyburn" in front of a massive crowd. The gallows - which, funnily enough, look exactly like the looms of Plate 1 - can be seen on the right in the background - they were usually called the "triple tree of Tyburn" because of the three horizontal beams that could hang eight men at once each - and lying on one of the beams is the hangman, the "King of Tyburn", who is calmly waiting to carry out his sad function, while casually smoking a pipe. It is interesting to notice, that most executioners were men of low mentality who often ended on the gallows themselves. In the centre of the print, in the background, can be seen the "Ordinary of Newgate" who is addressing the crowd from his coach fulfilling once again the wish of Robert Dow, a merchant of London who, at his death in 1612, left an annuity of £1 6s. 8d, to ensure the spiritual exhortation of those who were going to be executed. A man, crouching on top of the cart, is trying to remove the Ordinary's wig with the help of a stick. Followed by a troop of mounted soldiers holding spears, Idle is arriving on the scene, praying out of a book, sitting in an open cart next to a Methodist minister who is exhorting him to repent. The poor boy is lying against his own coffin and looks exhausted, as if his health has been severely damaged. This is probably due to the time he has spent in Newgate prison. Actually, Idle has probably just taken his last drink at St Sepulchre's Church where it was traditional to lead the prisoners who had to go out of Newgate's prison at 9 a.m. in front of a huge crowd which was waiting to hear the bell toll and see them get into the cart. The criminals were then put back into the cart and led to Tyburn, followed by a procession of spectators. In 1783, an end was put to the traditional executions at Tyburn. Criminals were, from that year on, hanged within the walls of Newgate, protected from the confusion caused by such a great number of spectators. This decision was taken much to the discontent of many as we can read in James Boswell's Life of Johnson:

The age is running mad after innovation; all the business of the world is to be done in a new way; men are to be hanged in a new way; Tyburn itself is not safe from the fury of innovation.[...] they object that the old method drew together a number of spectators. Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators. If they do not draw spectators they don't answer their purpose. The old method was most satisfactory to all parties; the publick was gratified by a procession; the criminal was supported by it. Why is all this to be swept away ?

This extract shows how important Tyburn was in the popular tradition. Thus, when Idle arrives at Tyburn, the crowd that is awaiting him is already massive, and there are many details showing how lively it is. On the right-hand side, there is a structure much like a grandstand where those who wished to have a better view of the spectacle could stand, but is was reserved for people of fashion as we can figure out from the print. On the right-hand side of the foreground there is a cart where some women are standing and selling gin probably. On the extreme right-hand side can be seen Idle's mother who is, as usual, crying in her apron. Close to the cart, there is first a group of men armed with sticks who are busy beating someone or something. Then, there is a little boy who has just overturned a wheelbarrow filled with apples and who is, for this reason, being punched in the face by the woman who was pushing it. The next character, in the immediate foreground, is called Ford but was very famous and popularly called "Tiddy Doll" . His presence here is not surprising at all. He was a famous ginger-bread seller, quite eccentric who was always hailed as the king of itinerant tradesmen. He was very well known for being a constant attendant in the crowd on Lord Mayor's day. However, Hogarth has not placed him in the crowd of Plate 12. He was also regularly attending the executions at Tyburn and the May Fair. He liked to dress like a person of fashion. On the plate, he can be seen wearing his nice clothes, holding up a ginger-bread cake with his left hand, the right one being in his coat, Napoleon-like, and haranguing the crowd to gain customers. A man can be seen, holding a dog by the tail, as if it was a potato sack, and about to throw it at Idle's face. Cruelty and ill treatments to animals were very common things at that time, and this is one of the things Hogarth stood against, for instance in his famous series The Four Stages of Cruelty. He dedicated his artistic talent to attract the attention of the population and to raise the problem of such terrible behaviour to animals. In the centre of the print, a woman with a baby in her arms is holding "The Last dying speech & Confession of Tho. Idle". It was traditional in the eighteenth century that before being executed, a criminal would write his "dying speech", usually telling the reader about his life of sins, explaining his regrets, and recommending others not to make the same mistakes as he did. However, it is important to note that these criminal confessions were usually fabricated by hacks for booksellers - very few, if any, were genuine. Following, is an extract taken from the dying speech of John Selman , who was executed in 1612 :

The Dying Speech of John Selman
at his place of execution, Charing Cross, on 7 January 1612

I am come (as you see) patiently to offer vp the sweet, and deare sacrifice of my life, a life, which I haue gracelessely abused, and by the vnruly course thereof, made my death a scandall to my kindred and aquaintance: I haue consumed fortunes gifts in riotous companies, wasted my good name in the purchase of goods vnlawfully gotten, and now ending my daies in too late repentance, I am placed in the rancke of reprobates, which the rusty canker of time must needs turne to obliuion. I stand here as shames example, ready to bee spewed out of the Common wealth. I confesse, I haue knowne too much, performed more, but consented to most: I haue bin the only corruption of many ripe witted youth, and leader of them to confusion. Pardon me God, for that is now a burthen to my conscience, wash it away sweet Creator, that I may spotlesse enter into thy glorious kingdome. Whereupon being demanded, if he would discouer any of his fraternity, for the good of the Common wealth or not: Answered, that he had already left the names of diuers notorious malefactors in writing behind him, which hee thought sufficient. So hee requested the quietnes of conscience that his soule might depart without molestation. For (quoth he) I haue deserued death long before this time, and deseruedly now I suffer death. The offence I dye for, was high presumption, a fact done euen in the Kings Maiesties presence, euen in the Church of God, in the time of diuine Seruice, and the celebration of the Sacred Communion, for which if forgiuenes may descend from Gods tribunall Throne, with penitence of hart I desire it, all which being spoken, he patiently left this world for another life. But see the gracelesse and vnrepenting minds of such like kinde of liuers: for, one of his quality (a picke pocket, I meane) euen at his execution, grew master of a true mans purse, who being presently taken, was imprisoned, and is like the next sessions to wander the long voiage after his grand Captaine, Mounsier John Selman, God if it bee his blessed will turne their hearts, and make them all honest men...


(Figure 3)

THE ARRAIGNMENT / of John Selman, who was executed / neere Charing-Crosse the 7. of January, 1612. for / a Fellony by him committed in the Kings Chappell / at White-Hall vpon Christmas day last, in presence / of the King and diuers or the Nobility. / [woodcut of John Selman holding a purse, 13.5 cm. x 18 cm.] / LONDON. / Printed by W.H. for Thomas Archer, and are to be / sold at his shop in Popes-head Pallace,1612

These dying speeches usually had tremendous success with the population. Even if John Selman's one (Figure 3) is dated more than a century before Hogarth actually created Industry and Idleness, it is more than probable that Idle's dying speech is much alike. In it, there are surely words like those used by John Selman, words talking about abuse, unruly life, confession and repentance. Idle knows that what is waiting for him is definitely not a nice experience as death was not immediate usually and the strangulation by the rope's knot was, in fact, a slow process. Some criminals have been hanging for quite a long time without dying. But the immediate after life, for hanged men, was not a very exciting prospect either. Indeed, the College of Surgeons that was then at the Old Bailey, was entitled to all bodies coming from Tyburn to use for dissection experiments. The character which is being examined on the plate ironically entitled The Reward of Cruelty (1751) could well have been Tom Idle. In order for the body to be put in the ground, the family or friends would have had to buy it - actually it was quite common for the close relatives to buy the criminal's body, not for a religious purpose but in the hope of being able to revive him, as the painful strangulation was not always conclusive.
On the left of the speech seller, a woman is punching a man who has fallen down on the ground, on a baby. The man was probably flirting with the third woman who is holding a basket and showing the palm of her hands in a movement of surprise and helplessness. However, this is also very demonstrative of the little care that was taken of children at that time. Actually, this becomes a recurrent theme in Hogarth's work. The same carelessness can be found on the print entitled Gin Lane (1751), with the mother who is letting her child fall from her lap. Actually, it is possible to notice that Hogarth has insisted on the presence of new born children. Thus, there is the one lying on the ground on the foreground, a baby's face can be noticed emerging from the shadowy crowd, another one can be seen on the right-hand side, in the cart, and one more in the speech seller’s lap. Their presence at Idle's execution is not due to the cruelty of parents who did not care about showing the spectacle of death to their offspring. On the contrary, it was a very common tradition that women would bring their babies to an execution at Tyburn, the popular belief being that touching the head of a new born child with the hand of a hanged man would protect it from all sorts of illnesses. On the left of
Plate 11, there is a soldier who is kneeling because he is caught in the mud. Two boys on the extreme left of the print are looking at him, laughing. Once again, Hogarth has inserted a typical image of what usually happened during executions at Tyburn. Indeed, public hangings were meant as a warning for the population. But this warning was hardly taken into account, and during spectacles such as the ones that took place at Tyburn, pick-pockets were busy in the crowd.
Then arrives Goodchild on
Plate 12. The horns of plenty engraved on the left and right of the printed frame, as opposed to the skeletons on Plate 11, show that the subject of this plate is success. Indeed, the industrious apprentice has become Lord-Mayor of London, he has reached the position he was aiming at and is now inside a state coach, on his way to the Guildhall. At the coach-window, a man with a fur cap and his face barely visible because buried inside a top hat which seems a bit too big for his head, is holding the City Sword that has appeared all along the story on the printed frame. This man is the Marshall of the City. Behind him, at the opposite window can be seen the silhouette of the City mace, also a recurrent element on the printed frames. Goodchild is hardly visible inside the coach.

Around the coach, the crowd is very active, and there is a sharp contrast between the quiet, organised and peaceful settings that we have had all along Goodchild's story until now. Actually, both type of settings seem to have mixed together. Thus, there are the straight, symmetrical and solid lines of the background buildings facing the apparent fragility of the wooden grandstands erected by the London guilds, on the left and on the right. The procession, which usually took place on November 9 is enormous, but a few characters manage to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Thus, on the right-hand side, there is a dwarf holding a scarcely readable piece of paper on which the following words are written " A Full and True Account of Ye Ghost of Thos Idle, Which.... It was a popular belief that those who had been hanged would, sometimes, come back from the dead to punish those who had done them wrongs during their life. But these stories were also a good way for booksellers to make some money. In the foreground, a bench made of a wooden plank lying on two barrels has just collapsed. A chimney-sweep finds this scene very amusing. On the right-hand side, on the balcony just above the grandstand made for the commoners, stand members of the nobility. The hierarchy is thus respected. Among them, on the left, there is Frederick Prince of Wales who is looking at the procession and probably also at the sign of the King's Head Tavern which appears just in the centre of the perspective between the buildings. The king may not be here physically, but the sign, far above the common citizens, shows that he is here symbolically. On the left-hand side, a soldier is leaning completely drunk against a pole. On his left, a boy looking up a woman's skirt. This woman, seems to be scratching the face of the man who is kissing her.


Inversion and Paradoxes :

the hidden discourse of Industry and Idleness

The story of our two apprentices can also been studied on a different level which puts aside the direct pedagogical aspect of the series and tells us more about Hogarth himself - an alternative reading which subverts the whole system of values the prints seem to put forward. Indeed, we suggest an analysis of Hogarth's plates which can be applied to other works of his. For instance, the two contrasting plates Gin Lane and Beer Street created by the artist in 1751 suggest a similar line of study. Indeed, this was quite often the case with Hogarth's work, and this was probably playing an important part in his creating power: the apparent positive values illustrated on a print can be reversed just by looking a bit more carefully at the plates, and deeper into the details. The reversal of these positive values is not meant to describe them as entirely negative, but to bring forward a kind of nuance, which often looks paradoxical, in the values of the period.

1.Transgression: the hidden significance of Industry and Idleness

As we have seen, Goodchild's ultimate advancement is something that very rarely happened in reality. However, it is quite often that apprentices took their master's business and then married their daughters. It happened to Samuel Richardson, the author of
Pamela (1739) and this is also exactly what happened to the "apprentice" William Hogarth who was taking painting lessons and studying the Old Master's art in an academy created by the painter James Thornhill. Eventually, Hogarth married Thornhill's daughter and even became more successful, more famous than his master - Hogarth is often referred to now as the father of British art. The fact is that the author's story is very similar to that of Francis Goodchild as Hogarth's story is one of rags to riches as well. But, a very important detail in the series brings forward a sort of ambiguous situation... Let us have a look at some of Hogarth's self-portraits - Hogarth Painting the Comic Muse (1758) or Gulielmus Hogarth (1749) for instance - or one of his paintings called Calais Gate, or The Roast Beef of Old England (1748) where a "spy" taking notes can be spotted on the left-hand side. Actually, this character is Hogarth himself who has included himself in the work because, during a trip to France, he had been arrested on suspicion of spying whereas he was just making sketches. Now, if we look at Idle's face, especially in the churchyard or in the Garrett, there is only one conclusion that can be reached: Though his life coincides with that of Goodchild, Hogarth has given his features to Idle.

(Figure 4)

On these close-ups (Figure 4), we can see that Idle's line of the nose, of the chin, of the lips of the eyebrow is completely identical to that of Hogarth's likeness in Calais Gate and on his self-portrait, even though the idle apprentice's curly hair is entirely his own...

Many different explanations have been given concerning this observation. Some even say that he may have done it unconsciously, hence projecting some of his hidden desires onto the paper : "Whether for purposes of self-irony to balance the saccharine self-portrait of Goodchild, or at some less conscious level, Hogarth has introduced his opposite... Psychologically, this may be described as the tendency of the mind to react defensively against what another part of it is reacting toward..." . This proposition has to be qualified. He may have done so as a way to say "yes" to what he usually said "no" to, but the theory which says that Hogarth has "on a less conscious level" applied himself to draw this fictitious character, giving it his own features... this seems a bit far-fetched. Actually, many theories or interpretation can be suggested.
For instance, as seen in the iconological analysis, Hogarth has inserted a "repoussoir figure" within each plate of Goodchild's story which is supposed to tell or maybe to recall the apprentice that even if his situation is improving everyday, sufferings are never very far from him and probably keeping an eye on him. However, the study also demonstrated that, apparently, there were no equivalents to these figures in Idle's story i.e. that, apparently, no reminders of Goodchild's seemingly well ordered world can be found facing the idle apprentice. This last assumption can be brought down with an interpretation saying that, by giving Idle his own features, Hogarth gives the "bad apprentice" the dimension of a figure of hope as Hogarth has definitely been a successful idle himself. According to his autobiographical notes, the words "idle" and "idleness" could well have been applied to him at the time when he was apprenticed to a master silver engraver. Of course, Idle can be described as a figure of hope if one takes one specific aspect of his destiny into account. Indeed, at that time, having the possibility of being an apprentice was a real privilege because it meant survival. In fact, some London parishes admitted that "no infant had lived to be apprenticed from their workhouses" and even though many actions were taken by different charity organisations to put a stop to this situation, no really efficient solutions were found. Thus, when Jonas Hanway, a merchant and a philanthropist who took part in the development of the Foundling Hospital and other charity institutions, went into the different parishes (fourteen altogether at that time) in order to enquire about the welfare of infants, he discovered abominations such as the terrible infant death rate in the Parish of St Martin-in-the-fields which showed that out of the 1200 babies born every year, 900 would die because of the carelessness of the women in charge who were euphemistically called "nurses". All in all, Hanway estimated that the infant death rate within the workhouses set up since 1720 was around 88%. The reason why Idle can, in a way, be considered as a figure of hope then becomes quite obvious...
The projection of his own persona into his work can also mean that Hogarth was basically trying to tell us, and especially the apprentices who might have had a glimpse of this hidden meaning, "Look at what could have happened to me!" (and therefore, at what could happen to you!). In that case, he is still sticking to the intended moral meaning of Industry and Idleness which then links Idle's character directly to its purpose in the iconological analysis. However, this interpretation is most unlikely, only because Hogarth was no orphan or parish child. But let us suppose that, even if he was trying to simplify the meaning as much as he could, Hogarth has added something deeper and was trying to attract the reader's attention on this particular character and at the same time to live what his character is living. Why should he have done such a thing? After all, Idle seems to be living a life that leads him directly to death. His fate doesn't appear to be very enviable compared to that of Goodchild. To find possible answers to that question, we have to move back to Idle's story and see how easy it is for him to forget all the taboos, to put aside all the established laws and rules, it seems that Hogarth, through his projection, is definitely trying to get a taste of it all. An interesting point to notice is that the author is, on the one hand, advocating church attendance through the character of Goodchild who is "performing the duty of a Christian" and on the other hand he seems to have this strong desire to be unfaithful to the Ten Commandments, given by God in Exodus, through his own incarnation of Idle . As a matter-of-fact, all along Idle's story, most laws imposed by God through the Ten Commandments are broken. For instance, God says "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." [Ex 20:8] but on this day, Idle is gambling. He also says "Honour thy father and thy mother..." [Ex 20:12], but Tom's mother is dishonoured and she cries because of her son's behaviour. "Thou shall not kill" [Ex 20:13] and Idle has just killed someone on
Plate 9 in order to rob his victim : "Thou shall not steal," the commandment says [Ex 20:15]. We can also easily imagine that he has taken "the name of the Lord [...] in vain." [Ex 20:7] several times. He also has, without any possible doubt, broken the commandment "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:" [Ex 20:9]. Thus, apparently, Hogarth has placed the reader in front of a paradoxical situation by implying "that's what is supposed to be good but that's what I wish I could do". As a matter-of-fact, Hogarth's aim with Industry and Idleness was to moralise, but by digging further down under the superficial meaning, and by putting aside what meets the eye so easily, these positive moralising values seem to be reversed by the author himself.

2.Death in Life, Life in Death

I have asked myself which character I like best in this series. The answer for me is obviously Tom Idle, but why should it be so, as he appears to be the bad character of the story? It is usually said that the interesting character is always the bad one (in films, books etc...). Maybe it is so, but the fact is that on looking at Idle's life and then at Goodchild's the choice is quickly made. When Goodchild is living like an Arcadian shepherd with an easy, quiet but boring life, Idle is the one who is alive, who experiences sufferings, anxiety, pleasure, fright, greed, as a close study of the heroes' faces can show (Figure 5)...

(Figure 5) : These close-ups on the two characters' faces allow us to notice the variety of expressions on Idle's face, one for each plate. On the contrary, there is only one proper human expression that can be noticed on Goodchild's features... it's on the last close-up and it's regret.

To sum it up, Idle experiences proper human feelings and he lives an adventurous life. Of course, in the end he is hanged at Tyburn but the fact is that he has chosen to live this risky life, following his model Moll Flanders. The piece of paper that is stuck on the loom was interpreted, at first, as a sign of his idleness whereas now, it can be seen as a sign of his will power to choose and follow a model that could lead him to his death, and this just for the sake of living a full human life. However, we know that Moll Flanders, in the end lives in peace and affluence in Virginia. So, here, the story of Moll Flanders gives us a hint that Idle's end might not be as terrible as it seems. Of course, Goodchild also has made a choice. He is following his ideal, his model Dick Whittington but because of this, he is living in a world that has replaced the notion of feelings by that of tradition and calculation. This can be seen on Goodchild's face, all along his story (Figure 5, p.29). He is the mirror of constant self-satisfaction appearing through a silly smile (probably meant, on a superficial level, to seduce the reader), and the incarnation of sycophancy, of the calculating ambitious. Is he giving food to the poor out of altruism or just because it is the custom to do so? Thus, what seemed to be so evident in the preliminary study of the series - where we have seen this constant opposition of "good vs. bad" - is all shaken up and turned upside-down...
Indeed, Tom Idle is experiencing life through the constant call of death whereas Goodchild is dead, metaphorically speaking, before having the least notion of what living means. But, here again, the plates can be seen from a totally new point of view and death in Idle's life can take a positive value. Indeed, on
Plate 3, Idle is lying on a coffin among a mass of ominous skulls and bones. The first meaning we have seen was that Idle had already one foot in the grave because of his behaviour. However, the simple fact that Hogarth has chosen to place his own representation on a coffin, playing with these pickpockets, suggests the idea that Idle is not thinking about his own death or that he doesn't care. Then, on Plate 10, he is imploring Goodchild not to sentence him to death. Thus, it seems that he is afraid to die. He was not thinking about it but now it comes to him, he is afraid. That situation is a normal human behaviour. So, this notion of death present in Idle's story emphasises the importance of his life instinct and the fact that he is free in a world where each liberty is a temptation. On the contrary, except for the "repoussoir figure" that introduces a silent feeling of suffering and stress into the seemingly Arcadian life of Goodchild, there is not the least call of death in the latter's story. Once again, the values reached in our initial analysis are reversed. Death which was associated to Idle because he is "bad" is now associated to him in order to stress his quality as a creature full of life. In fact, Goodchild seems now to be lacking this notion of physical death which would have made him more than a fictitious character supposed to represent hope, it would have made of him a human being. The effect is that Idle seems to have more of a presence in the succeeding plates. He is more likely to catch the attention of the reader, who refuses to let himself be blinded by the explicit moral discourse of the plates.

3. Openness and confinement: the theme of Liberty

Death being one of the themes developed in the series, another parallel can be made with Gin Lane and Beer Street concerning the issue of liberty in the plates. Liberty, a recurring theme in Hogarth's work, is often expressed through the depiction of the different settings in a story. For instance, in the above-mentioned prints, if Gin Lane seems to be the place where decay and depravity have settled down, the scenery implicitly tells the reader another story : Beer Street is more enclosed between massive brick walls, there is no outward perspective whereas its counterpart is much more open, more lively. Liberty is all there within Gin Lane, but temptations as well. This type of study can be applied efficiently to Industry and Idleness. It can expose before the reader a whole world of temptations in which Tom Idle is plunged - it may not have been just a coincidence that Hogarth has chosen Moll Flanders, a woman, as Idle's example - and, given the fact that Hogarth has supplied this character with his own features, a world that irremediably attracts the artist but frightens him at the same time.
Thus, on
Plate 1, both Idle and Goodchild seem to be blocked inside the workshop. However, at that stage, Goodchild seems to be the one on the open side of the print. He is next to the open door - even if a dissuasive element is standing in the doorway - next to the window on the other side of which he could have seen this world of powerful temptations if he had not been so concentrated on his loom, if he had not complied with The Prentices' Guide so blindly. However, Idle who is leaning against the structure of his loom and soundly dozing has already one foot outside. All these temptations attract him, the left quarter of his loom has already disappeared beyond the frame, and he is slowly drifting along with it. The ghost of Moll Flanders, floating just above his head is leading him out of the workshop. On Plate 3, he is definitely outside and already caught in the dangerous spiral of freedom. The churchyard is, of course, an open place. This is what Hogarth has linked with the notion of Liberty. However, the coffin, the skulls, the huge hole in the ground express the artist's fears of all these attractions or maybe the fear of a world he knew when he was a child and which has left him with the tough remembrance of a father who was not successful in his professional ambitions and who finally found himself in the Fleet prison for debtors. What Idle is, Hogarth is as well. But what Goodchild needs - we must bear in mind that Goodchild's life is Hogarth's - Hogarth needs too. And this is probably why on Plate3, it is possible to see the massive outer brick walls of the church where Goodchild has taken refuge on Plate 2. These walls not being enough of a confined space to protect the industrious apprentice from the outside world, the latter is standing behind the wooden structure of the pew, with the door half closed which, from his perspective, encloses him even more. On the left, as a reminder of Idle, the pew opener is sitting, waiting for newcomers, part of her figure outside the frame. Plates 4 and 5 carry on with this idea of an enclosed vs. open opposition. Here, Goodchild is once again within a totally closed-in space. This time it is the workshop that protects him. His fear of the outside world is expressed through the cat which is arching its back on seeing the dog that is walking in with the cloth porter. The latter, is coming in from the world of temptations and like Idle's loom, like the pew opener, he has - more or less - a quarter of his figure and attributes outside the frame. On Plate 5, Idle could not be in a more open space. Liberty pervades the whole plate. Every detail is symbolic : the sea, the vessels about to leave, the wind blowing in their sails and activating the windmills, the completely clear horizon. Freedom is all around Idle, all around Hogarth, but it is frightening, it can be painful and it can lead to death because there is no determined path to follow, a safe choice is hard to make, and there is no real possibility to protect yourself. All the characters in the small boat - and especially the rower who is a bit like Charon, the boatman of Hades, leading Idle to his death, symbolised by the gibbet on the shore - become symbols of these suggestions and are here to tell the reader about the reality of the artist's desire for Liberty but the fear he has for what it may imply. Goodchild is not willing to take any risk and therefore hardly gets his arm through the sash-window on Plate 6. Indeed, as usual, he is all closed-in within massive brick walls. The horizon line is blocked by huge buildings, the doorway is completely blocked by a broad-shouldered servant and the orchestra is creating a sort of compact enclosure around the entrance of Goodchild's house. The only hitch to this human wall is the legless beggar, who seems to break the reliability of the industrious apprentice's shield against the outside world and the butchers brandishing bones as a kind of humorous memento mori. Plate 7 is probably the most interesting as regards to this idea of Liberty and the fear of it. Idle is in the garret, lying in the bed, absolutely terrified. At first glance, the room seems to be totally enclosed. Idle should be protected from this world of temptations but, if we look closer, all sorts of details stand out against the shadowy room. First of all, we can notice that all the items of temptation are already in the room with him. The pipe, the gin, the tobacco and the pistol show that he is about to give way to vice. Then, we can notice the gaping holes in the floor, the wall falling into pieces and ready to collapse, the cat falling from the, therefore, open chimney and taking a few bricks on its way down, the rat escaping on the left- hand side, probably through another hole, and the door, closed with three locks and reinforced by two planks. Idle has freedom, but at the same time, he is afraid of it. However, for Idle there is no other possibility, everything is collapsing around him. The cat is trying to get the rat, but the rat is going to escape.
As the story advances, Goodchild's space is getting more and more confined. On
Plate 8, he is once more protected by massive walls. Of course, there are windows, but if we look through them, the only sight we can get is that of trees blocking the perspective. There is, as usual within the Goodchild plates, the feeling that everything is in order, tidy, perfectly symmetrical. Here, the square shape prevails. The windows and their panes are square, the floor is covered with square tiles, the wall is decorated with square framed paintings and with rectangle shapes. The long bench is square as well, and the tables are arranged in a square shape so that Goodchild and his wife, who are emerging in the background of the plate, look as if they were part of a low wall made of all the characters eating around the square shape table. Actually, Goodchild and his wife look as if they were either part of this low wall or characters in a portrait, a royal couple for instance, hanging on the room wall. They seem to be the continuation of the portrait of William II just above their heads. The funny thing about this print is that the only real opening there is - the one situated on the right-hand side and from which a crowd of petitioners is waiting to see the new Sheriff of London - was drawn by Hogarth with a frame. The effect produced is that this opening looks like another painting hanging on the wall, and therefore is not an opening anymore. However, the main idea that has to be drawn from this print is that Goodchild and his wife look completely isolated within all these people who are busy eating around them. Goodchild is enclosed, a prisoner because he is frightened by the outside world. On Plate 9, Idle is again moving into what seems to be a totally enclosed world. The ceiling is very low and the perspective chosen by Hogarth to depict this night cellar gives the impression that the place is very small indeed. It is very crowded, and there is a brawl in the back room. A fire is blazing in the hearth of the chimney which cannot make up for the lack of light, so it must be very warm and noisy inside. The staircase on the left-hand side definitely gives the impression that the characters, as well as the reader, are buried deep underground. All these details, added to the smell of tobacco, gin and beer, create a really stifling atmosphere. Actually, this plate is a turning point for this notion of Liberty - which is associated with Idle - and all the potential temptations that ensue from it. As a matter of fact, the general feeling now is that the idle apprentice is trapped. There is a chimney, but a fire is burning in the hearth. There is a trap door, but it is blocked by a corpse that is being pushed through it. Idle is turning his back to the entrance of the cellar which, anyway, is obstructed by the presence of a few constables armed with sticks. Idle and his accomplice are examining their loot which is symbolic of the temptation that has trapped Idle.
When on
Plate 10 the two apprentices meet, the clash is very interesting as both characters are faithful to their previous condition. As a matter-of-fact, Goodchild is in his closed-in world defined, in terms of space, by the wall and the wooden barrier which puts a physical separation between their two worlds. Goodchild is turning his head aside as if he wanted to prevent himself from being caught into the spiral of emotions, of temptations. He wants to stay in his over-protected world - symbolised here by the amazing number of fire buckets hanging from the balcony in the background - where Liberty proper has no place. However, if Goodchild seems completely isolated and remote from the outside world where Idle is standing, the latter is, as on Plate 9, trapped. He is, of course, standing on the open door side of the boundary but there is a whole crowd, very lively and very noisy, packed around him. This crowd seems to form an obstacle between him and the way out. Moreover, the massive beadle and the staff he is holding form an impassable wall.
Plate 11, there is a subtle mixture of this feeling of Liberty and of the fact that Idle is definitely trapped. As a matter-of-fact, once again, the idle apprentice has a whole crowd packed-up around him. On the right-hand side of the plate, a massive grandstand blocks the perspective. On the left-hand side there is a very long wall which blocks the perspective as well. However, even if Idle is trapped between the coffin and the minister something tells us that Liberty is not that far away. The most obvious thing to notice is the background. Of course, Idle is moving slowly towards the gallows but, at the same time, the cart is moving towards the hills. The horizon line is not as clear as it is on Plate 3 but still, on this plate the hills give this feeling of quietness, of peace as opposed to the noise and stifling atmosphere engendered by the massive crowd. On Plate 12, there is as well a massive crowd but in Goodchild's story, there is not the least nuance to be made. Here, everything is an hint of his confinement. First of all, the perspective is, once again, completely blocked by the huge brick buildings. On the right and on the left-hand sides, grandstands are echoing what can be seen on Plate 11. A crowd of men brandishing cudgels and sticks has gathered around the coach in which Goodchild has hidden. As a matter-of-fact, the new Lord-Mayor of London can hardly be distinguished and is situated, more than ever, within an enclosed space.
Thus, if we look at the plates from an iconological point of view, we would only see two sharply contrasting stories. One of success, that of Goodchild, and one of failure, that of Idle, of course. However, when studying prints made by Hogarth, the reader has to keep in mind that what stands in front of his eyes is not always what it seems. We have here a perfect example of this. Goodchild is the successful one, however some subtler details emerging from the setting of each plate tell us that Idle is the one who is free, who enjoys Liberty. Of course, it is hardly believable that, on
Plate 11, Idle is enjoying Liberty as he is going to be hanged. However, the fact that Idle is moving to the right towards the hills on his way to death while Goodchild is moving to the left towards a totally blocked perspective after he has reached his ultimate goal may tell us something even more subtler about the respective fates of the two apprentices.

4.Paradoxical Destinies

Following the same line of reflection, it is possible to think about Ronald Paulson’s notion of "Repoussoir figure" in a different way. As a matter-of-fact, we have seen above, on page 15, that according to him, the characters situated on the left-hand side of the different stages of Goodchild's life are here in order for the reader not to forget Idle's "gross world". Now let us say that once again Hogarth has subtly played with irony, giving a double meaning to these characters. The first one is that of the first level of interpretation. That is, an opposition between bad and good - the interpretation conveyed by Paulson's phrase. But, we might also consider that these characters have a more sharply contrasting function. The word used by Paulson "repoussoir" gives a pejorative tonality to their role whereas it is possible to reverse this interpretation and consider them as positive characters contrasting with a negative one: Goodchild. This might sound a bit paradoxical as they are directly taken out from the London underworld and apparently the good apprentice is more likely to represent positive values than them, at least to the eyes of the apprentices of that time. However, as seen, if we follow the same "inversion of values" way of thinking, Hogarth has placed these characters in front of Goodchild in order to remind him at each stage of his life what true life is, showing him that he is not living a proper life himself. As a matter-of-fact, each of the characters is active, and represents a typical function of the time. Goodchild is facing them with his candid face, thinking only of his social advancement. Paulson has given an interpretation of the recurrent left-right opposition. We have seen that Idle is always situated on the left of the stage, except for
Plate 9. On the contrary, Goodchild is always situated on the right of the plate, except for Plate 8. Hence, Paulson in Emblems and Expressions, has linked this disposition to the Biblical reference of the goat - negative - and the sheep - positive. However, once again, this way of thinking leads to the direct bad vs. good opposition where, of course, Idle is the incarnation of the bad side. If we look at the different plates at a more graphic level, it is possible to bring forward a different interpretation. Indeed, on page 29 (Figure 5), we have the close-ups of the faces of the two characters. When we look at them, it is possible to notice that on the first plate, Idle and Goodchild have their faces turned towards the left-hand side of the plate. From Plate 2 to the end Idle has his face turned towards the right-hand side whereas Goodchild, except for Plate 10, is facing left. From what apparently seems to be a detail of small importance, two interesting assumptions can be made. The first and most obvious one is that there has been an evolution for both of them. Goodchild's has taken place near the end of the story, at the stage where he seems to be regretting to do what he has to do, that is the stage when he is feeling something of human nature. Idle's change, on the contrary is taking place at the beginning of the story. The question is: what can these changes possibly mean? Two things have to be taken into account. If we consider that the two characters are opposed, no matter how, and without giving any kind of value to this opposition, we see that Idle's life has started with boredom but has continued with a deep feeling of excitement, unfulfilled maybe, as death strikes him at quite an early stage of his life, but still he apparently enjoyed his short life. The parallelism with Goodchild's life leads to the feeling, that he has started his life with the idea of perpetual social advancement and, as Idle is sentenced to death, he is sentenced to the human feeling called regret. Idle's life is brought to an untimely end, but Goodchild is doomed to an endless regret. The second assumption, leads approximately to the same conclusion reached with the first one. Indeed, if we take into account that in occidental cultures, Hogarth's culture, the right-hand side of any picture, print etc.. symbolises the semiotic perspective of the future, as opposed to the left-hand side which reflects the semiotic past, then Idle who is always facing the right side is the one turned towards the future, i.e. a wide perspective, towards life. On the contrary, Goodchild is oriented towards the past, that means that he is turning his back to the different perspectives opened to him. He is narrow-minded and has chosen to experience only one feeling, that of self-satisfaction which in the end leads him to his sad fate. This narrow-mindedness is also shown through the importance given by Goodchild to his apprentice's guide. Indeed, as seen on Plate 1, his book, contrarily to Idle's, is in a perfect state. Actually, this detail shows that he is blindly tuning his life according to a book that is, in fact, dictating him to behave in such or such a way. Idle on the contrary is closing his eyes and has let his guide decay. He has had a taste of it but now he knows that he belongs elsewhere. The question that can be asked is which of the two sides is the most enviable? This question allows us to come back to the presence of death discussed above. We have seen that Idle' life is pervaded with images of death (coffin, skulls, ropes, gallows, pistols, corpses...) whereas Goodchild's is not. However, this statement can be slightly qualified as, even if it is not a proper hint at death as in Idle's life - a hint that gives the character his status as a free man - there is a small detail included by Hogarth, which has a strong metaphorical meaning, which stresses the idea of Goodchild's negative ending. As a matter-of-fact, as noticed before, Tyburn's "fatal tree" looks much like the looms of Plate 1. This, in a way, is not that surprising as it is easily possible to imagine that, for Hogarth, it was just another device used to stress Idle's probable ending. What is surprising, though, is that because of matters of graphic perspective, it is not at all Idle's loom that looks like Tyburn, but Goodchild's (Figure 6).

(Figure 6)
On this print-montage of Plates 1 and 11, the correlation between Goodchild's loom and the fatal tree of Tyburn becomes obvious.

Thus, the thing is that, at the very beginning of their story, both characters seem to be caught within the gallows, they seem to be on the verge of being hanged. However, who is really going to die? Thomas Idle? Certainly, but we have seen that all along the story Goodchild belongs to the right-hand side of the prints and it really looks as if the gallows graphically echo his loom. Thus, it appears that Hogarth cannot have Goodchild die at the end of the story, because otherwise the whole moral point intended at the beginning would be missed, but something subtler, linked to images, tells us again that Goodchild's lot is not one of happiness either. This last assumption can be directly linked to what we have seen before : Goodchild condemned to eternal regret. This sad end for Goodchild can be definitely stressed by the fact that, after the reunion of the two characters on
Plate 10, it is Idle's story that carries on, as if he was the one to be celebrated. Goodchild, on the contrary seems to be moving to the status of a minor figure, the crowd around him looks as if it had just escaped from a battlefield. As a matter-of-fact, if we compare the crowd on Plate 11 with that of Plate 12, we can see that the characters gathered around the coach of the Lord-Mayor, and armed with sticks and cudgels, seem to be very excited, maybe on the verge of becoming violent. The fact that the presence of the City Militia is quite massive strengthens this feeling of unstability. As opposed to this, the crowd waiting for Idle to be executed is more like an audience, even if there are outbursts of violence here and there. Moreover, Goodchild has physically moved to the left of the plate which has been, from the beginning of the story, associated to the negative side whereas Idle is going to end on the right-hand side.
What is even more disturbing is the fact that, if we move back to the story of Dick Whittington (cf. p.5), who is Goodchild's implicit model, there are a few really interesting facts to notice. First, it is the story of an apprentice who has run away from London. That is quite similar to Idle's story. Then, comes the story of the cat sent abroad on a merchant's ship which, strangely enough, can remind us of Tom Idle's story (
Plate 5, when he is sent to sea). Another interesting element lies in the fact that the cat has killed the rats. On Plate 7, when Idle is in a garret, we have noticed a cat falling down the chimney and pursuing a rat. Thus, once again, we have a similarity with Idle's story. Therefore, according to this, the cat no longer seems to be tightly linked to Goodchild but to Idle which is completely paradoxical as the cat, in the pantomime story, is the element that symbolises fortune which is definitely not what happens to Idle in the end. However, if we pay more attention to the title of the story of Moll Flanders, Idle's model, the same paradox can be seen. Of course, the first part of this title refers to the part when she belong to the underworld - all this part that we have already linked with liberty, life and temptations - and there is nothing strange about this. Still, the title reaches a point when Moll "grows rich, lives honest and dies a penitent". Maybe Hogarth, wanted just to use the first part of the title to define the character of Idle. Yet, he surely knew that his contemporaries, especially the uneducated readers of such books as Defoe's, had probably heard about the story of Moll Flanders and that it ends well. So, should we interpret this as a hint Hogarth gave, in order for us to realise that, maybe, Idle's fate is not as terrible as it seems and that therefore there is a deeper meaning than the moral one to be looked for? Or is it still a part of the intended moral meaning where Hogarth tells the reader that whatever happens, Thomas Idle is still a figure of hope? Whatever interpretation is given, the fact that the characters are not as well defined as they seem in the moral study - that is good and bad, positive and negative - appears again clearly. Indeed, it is possible to find a part of Idle in Goodchild's model and a part of Goodchild in Idle's model.


Industry and Idleness is indeed a moral series as far as it respects its first aim which is to show the apprentices of the period how to behave. However, we have seen that this series, even if aimed at a mainly uneducated public, is not an exception to the rule of multiple meanings that we can usually find within Hogarth's prints. Of course the prints are nice to look at, because of the fantastic variety of small details but here, each one of these details is meaningful and turns into a device to attract the eye of the reader on what has to be seen instead of on what seems to be. Hence, all along the story of the two apprentices which apparently reflects the basic opposition of bad vs. good, we discover that Hogarth has inserted hints and used devices that lead us, little by little, to understand that the two characters, Idle and Goodchild, are in fact interchangeable. However, this interchangeability is reversed i.e. that Idle's life ends as Goodchild's life started and Goodchild's life ends as Idle's life started. Indeed, we have seen that Goodchild has lived as if he were dead and declined to an end where he is condemned to an eternal feeling of boredom. As opposed to this, Idle started with boredom but after having lived a life filled with a strong feeling of liberty dies and finds peace.
We must not forget that Hogarth is taking part in all of this. He is part of Goodchild and part of Idle at the same time. The fact that the moral meaning, which was the declared goal of the series, can be totally opposed to a different reading of the same series shows not only that the prints lived through Hogarth's creating hands but also that Hogarth lived through his prints. His signature "designed and engraved by W.Hogarth" can be read at the bottom of each plate but his presence pervades each plate, and that is the best signature ever.
However, we know that Hogarth's life is closer to that of Goodchild so we can assume that Idle represents the artist's desires and haunting fears. Yet, can we consider that Hogarth desires Idle's life where crime and vice are omnipresent? Or is Hogarth inviting us to move beyond the prints to find the archetype of life and Liberty in Thomas Idle?