The novel "The Jungle", is a hybrid of history, literature, and propaganda. It was written in 1906 by Upton Sinclair, to demonstrate the control big business had over the average working man, and his family. Sinclair was one of the most famous muckrakers in history; he exposed scandals and political corruption in the early nineteen hundreds (Literature 572). He attempted to show his idea of the solution to this problems of the times: socialism. At the time Sinclair wrote, communism was not yet around, so the anti-socialistic fears were not yet aroused.
The socialist party, to which Sinclair belonged since he was twenty-four, was moderately popular in certain areas (Literature 572). The American people were, in a way, open to the suggestion. As the title proposes, the novels is meant to show how American economic power had led big business, trusts, and incorporations to take control of the country, and turn it into a brutal jungle, where the `little guy' had nearly no hope for survival, let alone hope of the American dream of prosperity.
Sinclair wasn't chiefly interested in journalism, as some believe. He paid his way through college writing cheap adventure novels, after which he began writing more serious works, but was extremely unsuccessful, making less than a thousand dollars in four years. When his bad luck ran out, an opportunity arouse, and he took advantage of it. The editor of a socialist magazine, called the Appeal to Reason, offered him five hundred dollars to write a novel about industrial workers, and their slave like conditions. They planned to serialize the novel, that is, release it piece by piece, much like sit-coms are done toda...
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... they can out of those who are underneath them. It also offers a look at the unique techniques used in this time period to obtain the writers goals. Muckraking was an efficient way to propose an idea. No one would have listened to the idea of socialism, had there not been a problem it could be used to solve. Sinclair used his gifts as an author to promote his cause, and although socialism never succeeded in America, Sinclair is still remembered as the pinnacle of muckrakers; his books are still read and studied to this day, and will be for a long time to come.
Matuz, Roger. Contemporary Literary Criticism, Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991.
[Literary Digest] "A Change in the Spirit of Magazine Criticism," Literary Digest 32 (May 19, 1906): 750-51.
Literature Lover's Companion, Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall Press, 2001.
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