Smiles' View of Self Help

Although his name suggests differently, Samuel Smiles’ Self Help leads to incorrect points that did not make sense in historical context. Smiles thought that because of human nature, self help was a valid way to increase one’s happiness through means of hard work and perseverance. However, Smiles thought the way to help one’s self was through harder work than that already being done, which was almost impossible.


Smiles thought that hard-work was the main force of a good society, but when work conditions were terrible and a huge percentage of the population was in poverty, hard-work lead to almost nothing. Families of a dozen children would go to work only to bring back enough to feed the family until the next day, and they still worked 18 hour days in coal mines, factories, or other terrible working places. These people were hard working, however they would never build up strong laws and a strong economy because they still remained in the lower class. The higher class factory owners wouldn’t do much hard work at all, besides the occasional whipping and beating of enslaved workers and the signing of tiny paychecks.


The lower class citizens could never run for office, build up the economy, start their own business, or anything along the lines of what Smiles thought hard working people would do. Although Smiles mentioned that people could have the opportunity to rise up through the ranks into a higher class with a “little more work,” it was almost impossible to work harder when the lower class citizens were already working 18 hour days just to pay for food, water, and shelter. Although Smiles’ point is an attractive image of rising up through the ranks and becoming an established person by means of only self-help, it was impossible to reach and therefore not a valid method of help.

Literature | Book Review

QR Code
QR Code smiles_self_help (generated for current page)