What Is The Role Of The Poor In The Gilded Age

519 Words 3 Pages
Described as an era of prosperity and growth, the three decades following the civil war have often been referred to as “The Gilded Age”. Characterized significantly due to the rapid industrialization and urbanization of the time, this shift from an agricultural-based republic to an industrial economy pioneered a society with drastically changing values and beliefs. The “Gilded Age” primarily refers to the experience held by middle class America. An increase in urban wealth led to what is referred to as “conspicuous consumption” – an increased interest in aesthetics that defined a person’s “good taste”. While the Gilded Age was a time of growth and change, not all was fairly prosperous. Economic change was unpredictable, and the country suffered from economic depressions in 1873-1878, 1883-1885, and again in 1893-1897. …show more content…
The gap between the rich and poor slowly progressed and the development of literature at the time depicted this chasm in its most severe form. In his book, How The Other Half Lives, Jacob Riis formulated a shocking exposé with the intentions of bettering the living conditions of the poor by showing the public a hidden side of society. Riis’ opinion of the poor appears twofold – arguing that the poor cannot be blamed for their own misfortune while also supporting stereotypes that insinuate their inferiority. Riis’ opinions are not unjustified, as his perpetual racism suggests a larger idea that tenement-dwellers are simply stuck in the vicious cylcle of a harsh American

Related Documents