On the Righteousness of Capitalism

State Standards

  • 3.0 Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their studies of history and social science. They conduct in-depth analyses of recurrent themes.
    • 3.2 Analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment on life, using textual evidence to support the claim.
    • 3.5.c Analyze recognized works of American literature representing a variety of genres and traditions: Evaluate the philosophical, political, religious, ethical, and social influences of the historical period that shaped the characters, plots, and settings.
    • 3.8 Analyze the clarity and consistency of political assumptions in a selection of literary works or essays on a topic (e.g., suffrage, women’s role in organized labor). (Political approach)
  • 11.2 Students analyze the relationship among the rise of industrialization, large-scale rural-to-urban migration, and massive immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe.
    • 11.1. Know the effects of industrialization on living and working conditions, including the portrayal of working conditions and food safety in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.
    • 11.3. Trace the effect of the Americanization movement.
    • 11.4. Analyze the effect of urban political machines and responses to them by immigrants and middle-class reformers.

Project Summary

Our capitalism essay was assigned late in second semester, its focus on evaluating a quote regarding the ideals of capitalism and its effects on men. The quote that we evaluated proposed that capitalism inevitably breeds greed, ill will, and malcontent in society that leads to the horrible cruelty such as was inflicted upon the impoverished in The Jungle. We began the essay by reading Sinclair’s The Jungle taking careful note of how capitalism described during the novel. Next, students arranged their ideas as necessary and roughed out a thirteen paragraph rough draft that incorporated the effects of capitalism on major characters and our own personal opinion of capitalism.


This essay was a real eye opener to things that have happened in the past in America. Some of the horror stories that were mentioned, like people falling into the boiling vats, a woman throwing her just born baby into a sausage machine, men whose bodies were eaten apart by the acid they worked in daily, were simply insane sounding. It is a curious thing to think that only a century ago, people still lived under such crude lack of even the simplest safety measures.

Had I time to redo this essay, I would certainly have elaborated on the philosophical arguments for and against capitalism. It was an interesting thing, to contemplate the idea that our entire society is built on a system that encourages corruption and promotes evil to flourish under the shadows of all that is good. I would have enjoyed waxing philosophical into the idea of America being a hostel of lies, but at the same time being a citadel of honesty. For honest men can still become wealthy, they simply must find other honest men to deal with.

The Essay

Looks like you don't have flash installed. No problem, you can download the PDF from Scribd.