The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and how it captures the zeitgeist of the early 1900's.

Essay by WhitesicanHigh School, 11th gradeA+, June 2005

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Schwartz, Aaron

English 11 AP


Hard Work Does Not Pay Off

A novel can be more than just a story. Once read, every novel leaves a mark on the reader affecting his view on the subject. A novel can also be more than just entertainment. It can change a person's life, or even an entire society. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair did just this. It changed the way people thought. Not only did it change the way people thought, it changed the way people think today. The way we see the early 1900's now, without having experienced it ourselves, is through media. One of the most powerful forms of media is a novel. Using writing, Sinclair captures this era through fiction. The Jungle is just one strand in the giant media web that makes up what we believe the early 1900's was really like. But it is definitely one of the bigger links.

So much so that it is talked about in history books as if the story really happened at the time. In The Jungle, Sinclair effectively catches the zeitgeist of the early 1900's in American history. He portrays the feelings of immigrant workers coming to America and captures the struggle they go through to achieve a piece of the American dream. Sinclair uses Jurgis as a symbol for the typical immigrant worker of the time to describe what the 1900's were really like.

Sinclair captures the main element of the zeitgeist of the time, the mindset of the immigrant workers coming to America because they want a piece of the American dream. Our view on how immigrants thought at the time is greatly affected by this novel. Our view of immigrant workers is shaped through this novel taking us through the history of an immigrant family.