The Jungle By Upton Sinclair Essay

2087 Words 9 Pages
“They had dreamed of freedom; of a chance to look about them and learn something; to be decent and clean, to see their child grow up to be strong. And now it was all gone” (Sinclair 1906, 138). This is the bleak picture painted in Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle. A disturbing critique of turn-of-the-century industrialism with pervading themes of poverty, anti-corporation, and socialism. A commentary that exemplifies the Progressive era and the embodiments of freedom that came with it. Through his detailed descriptions of the poor working conditions of workers in industries such as meatpacking and steel, Sinclair makes a strong case for government as a moral arbiter to protect workers. A class, the book concludes, that should rise up against their oppressors to form a new society free from problems such as wage slavery. This mentality perfectly encapsulates the Progressive ideology, a shift away from the traditionally liberal conception of freedom of individuality to a more collectivist approach, where there is a necessity for people in society to work together. Ultimately giving way to a new definition of liberalism and ushering in the idea of a welfare state.
The story of The Jungle is the decay of the American Dream. Born and raised in rural Lithuania, Jurgis, the main character, convinces his family and soon-to-be wife to immigrate to America for a better life. When they arrive in Chicago, they find that the riches they thought America held are not easily…

Related Documents