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Evils of Capitalism in the “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair

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Immigrants flock to America in search of the American dream; a dream that promises success to everybody who works hard and makes an effort to succeed. In the novel ‘The Jungle’ Upton Sinclair illustrates that capitalism is flawed as it leads to corruption, exploitation, and power in the hands of the rich.

Corruption, ‘dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.’ Examples of this in Upton Sinclair ‘The Jungle’ is exemplified multiple times. For example in chapter 10 Connor, Ona’s boss was using Ona for his pleasures, He was bribing/using her family as leverage. He knew that if she would follow his demands, she would be fired and she and her family couldn’t afford it. Esscapilay with Jurgis injured and being unable to work. Another example would be when the meat inspector is inspecting the meatpacking factories. He was either bribed or distracted as the workers would put the bad meat (parts of the cattle that should not be eaten) into the mixer and sell it as normal. Another example is when the meatpacking companies would advertise halal meat, but in reality, it was normal a mix of cattle and pig (not halal).

The Exploitation of workers is an action that is repeated over and over again is The Jungle. According to chapter 1 if the workers are late to work they don’t get paid. On the other hand, if you don’t show up at all then you lose your job, there’s no job security. For example, once Jurgius was waiting at the front door for two hours due to some miscommunication. That was until one of his bosses sees him. His boss is anxious that Jurgis is not working. Instead of firing him, the boss gives Jurgis the job to clean up the slaughterhouse. The worst job, he needed blood and guts of the cattle that were not used in the meat. All of this not including terrible working conditions. The workers are expected to work from sunrise till sunset, 6 days a week with one day break per week. At the time in America there were a lot of diseases, so a high chance of sickness. Especially when you are in a space with dead animals. Your set up to fail. You get sick due to the working conditions, you skip a day and you get fired. It’s a system that sets you up for failure.

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At the time there were very few middle-class citizens. If you are rich you’re really rich, on the contrary, if you are poor and struggling you really were. This leads to no distribution of power. The few rich citizens would have an excessive amount of power. They would be the ones who own all the major industries and meatpacking industries. In chapter 5 page 35 “Here was Durham’s, for instance, owned by a man who was trying to make as much money out of it as he could, and did not care in the least how he did it; and underneath him, ranged in ranks and grades like an army, were managers and superintendents and foremen, each one driving the man next below him and trying to squeeze out of him as much work as possible.” In this conversation between Tamoszius and Jurgis, Tamoszius clarifies to Jurgis how the meatpacking industries work. As stated by Tamoszius factory owners are only troubled about making money and not at all for the workers. They don’t care about their situations, the conditions they work and have absolutely no empathy for them.

“The city, which was owned by an oligarchy of business men, being nominally ruled by the people, a huge army of graft was necessary for the purpose of effecting the transfer of power.” In chapter 25, page 151 The narrator is speaking. The narrator vividly portrays why Jurgis choose to become a criminal. He day the corruption in its politics, how it was all rigged for the rich men. At first, Jurgis and his family saw America as a place of opportunity freedom. A country where citizens had a say in their government and country. But now he came to the realization that cash controls everything.

The Jungle was written to illustrate the evils of capitalism in America. In the novel The Jungle, the author Upton Sinclair shows the numerous ways the capitalist system exploits the working class. The novel outlines how the capitalist system gives great power to the wealthy few. The Jungle shows the many horrific actions that occur as a result of capitalism. These including horrific working conditions, corruption, prostitution, drinking while working, and child labor. Workers are exposed to horrific working conditions where they are exposed to injury, exhaustion, sickness, and eventually death. Just to survive, citizens and families must work dreadful jobs, make their children work, and prostitute themselves. Under the eyes of the capitalist system, dishonesty, cheating, child labor, and prostitution become the standard.

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Evils of Capitalism in the “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Evils of Capitalism in the “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Evils of Capitalism in the “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Sept. 2023].
Evils of Capitalism in the “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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