Aristotle on Women: How The Jungle Defies it in Purpose Essay

Submitted By mariaisarobot
Words: 641
Pages: 3

Characters in The Jungle

In his Poetics, philosopher Aristotle argues that good characters must be “appropriate,” and that “[the] character presented to us may be, say, manly; but it is not appropriate in a female Character to be manly, or clever.” The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, takes place during the early 1900s, a time where it was appropriate for women to act different from men, as Aristotle believes. During The Jungle, the fictional family moves to the United States before women were given the right; women were often seen as inferior to men. However,Sinclair did not decide to make all of the women characters in his book fit the typical, feminine criterion. Sinclair choses to have one female character that would be good character in Aristotle’s eyes, Ona Lukoszaite, and another one that would not, Marija Berczynska. Although Marija may not be a good character based on Aristotle’s argument, the comparison between Marija and Ona must be made in order for Sinclair to get the reader to believe that no matter how different the women may be, they will still be affected by the unfairness that capitalism in similar ways.
In the beginning of The Jungle, Marija Berczynska is immediately described in an unfeminine way. Sinclair states that “the [wedding] rested heavily upon Marija’s broad shoulders.” Broad shoulders are often a characteristic given to male characters, and Sinclair pushes the manly feature further by stating that everything was resting “heavily” upon them, putting an emphasis on fact that Marija is a strong woman. Marija is also full of energy and quick to talk back to anyone who puts her off; in efforts to join the family on their journey to the United States, Marija stood up for herself and almost beating the rich farmer who owned her to death. Later in the novel, Marija was proud of the fact that she became a beef trimmer. The boss chose her because he “saw that she had the muscles of a man.” Sinclair portrayed Marija to be loud, energetic, daring, and even stronger than some men, which according to Aristotle was not acceptable when creating a good female character because her masculine features outweighed her feminine features. Ona Lukoszaite is the nearly the complete opposite of Marija. Sinclair’s description of Ona makes the reader imagine her to be very small; Sinclair states that “[Ona] was so young --…