The Underworld

The School for the Chain Gang


The System

Famous Crime






The above image was done by the French artist Jeanoit. This image was used in an illustrated version of Les Miserables. Although an exact date could not be found, but because Jeannoit began his artistic career around the 1830's, it can be assumed that it was done during the penal reformations of the early 1800's. These four people, three being prisoners and one a teacher, are all in a prison, obvious because of the bars on the windows.

"The School for the Chain-Gang" is an extremely romanticised vision of French prisons of the Revolution. A large amount of prisons did not even have one teacher, let alone one that would be able to teach a class of only three. Also, the fact that the teacher is sitting amongst the prisoners attempts to convey a message of equality between the prisoner and the teacher, and this was in no way the case. In many cases the teacher was a guard, and this is the ultimate of inequitable relationships. The individual attention the inmate seems to be receiving never happened considering that most teachers performed other duties in their off time and would have had absolutely no time for the intense tutorial depicted here.

The broom sitting behind the prisoners signifies a message that work the hard prison labor is behind them and an education and a future is ahead. This did not happen. Even if the prisoner was receiving an education, they would still be exploited and used in their prison labor