The tum of the 19th century was marked by the rise of big businesses and the formation of trusts. Accompanying this, many issues emerged as a few people, namely the heads of the industries, controlled almost ninety percent of the nation’s wealth. To expose these surfacing problems, many journalists and members of the media wrote articles or created political cartoons on the topics at hand. During the late 19th century, Joseph Keppler created the political cartoon “Monopoly” which followed the features of the Progressive Era by revealing the Artistic political control monopolies held over Congress, specifically the Senate; through the publication of this editorial piece, Keppeler wished to raise the civilian awareness of the governmental control monopolies possessed to elicit enough outrage to prompt change in the government,
In Joseph Keppler’s political cartoon “Monopoly,” Keppler employed the use of three essential elements of a current news issue, a prominent government personality, and a keyword to create an incendiary political message that would promote his cause, The current news issue Keppler addresses are the funneling of funds into the Senate by big businesses as a way to ensure that no anti-monopoly legislature would be approved.
This is depicted in the
cartoon by the serpent enveloping and constricting Congress which allows it to have direct control over the proceedings and the people within.
The serpent, which usually denotes something of an evil nature, is also shown trying to intimidate Lady Liberty, who is a national symbol or America personified. Another important figure in the cartoon is Uncle Sam, a person who embodies all of the honorable aspects of America, His presence in the cartoon and his ignoring of Lady Liberty and her perils are integral to the message Keppler was trying to convey.
The cartoon was a commentary on how corrupt America had become and what it would overlook to gain capital and national power. The last element Keppler embedded in his piece is the keyword “monopoly” on the underside of the serpent. With the inclusion of this term, the audience truly understands who is truly taking hold of the American government: avaricious, opportunistic, monopolies. Through the elements of a current news issue, a prominent government personality, and a keyword, Keppler raised public awareness thereby increasing the likelihood of prohibitive measures on monopolies.
Early 20th century America saw the rise of trust in all industries of American business and economy. With their rise to power, the big business expanded its control of American politics to sway the government in favor of the captains of industry. These actions did not go unnoticed, however, as many forms of media sought to uncover the corruption and display it in the public eye.