William Hogarth: The Four Stages of Cruelty

(2105 words)

The Four Stages of Cruelty is another of Hogarth's narrative comic history cycles, taking for its subject matter, this time, the wanton cruelty to animals and humans, which Hogarth saw all about him in mid-eighteenth century London. It follows the ‘progress' of a young man, Tom Nero, who takes delight in various forms of extreme cruelty and ends up the victim of his own example. Hogarth tells us in his Autobiographical Notes, compiled about 1763, a dozen or so years after the publication of The Four Stages of Cruelty in February 1750/51, that:

The four stages of cruelty were done in hope of preventing in some degree that cruel treatment of poor animals which makes the streets of London …

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Gordon, Ian. "The Four Stages of Cruelty". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 November 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=807, accessed 05 July 2015.]