Theme Of Socialism In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle

Better Essays
In the United States of America, the capitalist system dominates our economy by fostering production, competition, and private ownership. Although capitalism appears to be effective, especially for large corporations and the ruling class, it can be a problematic and unfavorable system for many others. An economic stratification has always existed in the Modern Western European society. As countries aimed for nationalism, or unity among the people, divisions in economic class emerged. The working class of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries frequently endured long production hours, low wages, unemployment, and poverty. Industrial workers and political leaders often voiced their living struggles, physical hardships, and poor work experiences…show more content…
One individual who expressed this view and promoted socialism was American author Upton Sinclair. Sinclair witnessed poverty in his lifetime in the aftermath of the Civil War and sought to strengthen the power of the working class. He exemplifies these economic beliefs in his fictional novel called The Jungle. The novel traces the journey of a Lithuanian immigrant named Jurgis, who faces unemployment, poverty, and discrimination as a working class man in a capitalist society. Sinclair emphasizes that capitalism is detrimental to the working class, and he proposes that socialism is the solution to economic inequality and the lack of power among the working class. For example, he described “the tricks of the packers, their masters, the tyrants who ruled them… the irregular hours and the cruel speeding-up, the lowering of wages, the raising of prices! The whole machinery of society was at their oppressors’ command” (177). Sinclair depicted the factory owners in the novel as disgraceful rulers to reflect how capitalism allowed ruling class leaders to oppress workers. He also portrays the corrupt effects of capitalism on workers’ well-being, illustrating that “each day the struggle becomes fiercer, the pace more cruel; each day you have to toil a little harder and feel the iron hand of circumstance close upon you a little tighter” (298). Through this fictitious lens, Sinclair exaggerated the oppression and physical demands workers faced to stress that capitalism had caused these economic disparities. In response, Sinclair ultimately suggested that socialism would create a classless society, provide workers with the rights they deserve, and bring them out of poverty. He explained these benefits of socialism, characterizing it as a “democratic political organization–it was controlled absolutely by its own membership, and had no
Get Access