The Jungle

What does Sinclair's use of Oscar Wilde's 1898 poem "The Ballad of Reading Gaol (Jail)" say about the value to society of placing a man in jail?

chapter sixteen.

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

The vilest deeds, like poison weeds,

Bloom well in prison air;

It is only what is good in Man

That wastes and withers there;

Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,

And the Warder is Despair.

So wrote a poet, to whom the world had dealt its justice--

I know not whether Laws be right,

Or whether Laws be wrong;

All that we know who lie in gaol

Is that the wall is strong.

And they do well to hide their hell,

For in it things are done

That Son of God nor son of Man

Ever should look upon.

As you can see from the words, Sinclair's use of this poem notes that jail doesn't help the man who is put there. It cites that prison air helps the weeds or evil in man to grow, and whatever good there is will simply wither away. Furthermore, what happens in jail should never be seen or experienced by anyone...... not even God.


The Jungle/ Chapter 16