The Gilded Age is a novel published in 1873. The novel boldly reveals the decayed darkness of the capitalist development stage after the American Civil War by means of realism. The author makes a bitter satire on the bourgeois democratic system and exposes the speculative epidemic, corruption and bribery prevailing in the whole country at that time. Through his own experience and by witnessing the social phenomenon, the author employs exquisite artistic techniques to depict social reality and condense it into the novel, so as to fully present the scene of corruption to the readers.The period from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the 20th century became known as the Gilded Age because of its widespread use to describe the corrupt politics and vulgarity of materialism in the United States.
From the end of the Civil War to the first half century of the 20th century, the United States experienced a period of rapid economic growth. The end of the Civil War cleared the way for the development of capitalism, and a large number of workers and immigrants provided the United States with abundance of cheap labor. The continuous discovery of mineral deposits and the nascent technological revolution brought abundant resources for the liberation of productive forces. By 1894, the United States had become the world’s largest country by virtue of its industrial output. However, rapid economic development has not brought people the same happiness. A large number of migrant workers in cities lead to the increase of urban operating load; air, water and noise pollution can be seen everywhere; workers’ income security does not match the scale of enterprise development; the problem of food safety is extremely serious; infrastructure construction in urbanization lags behind; corruption involving collusion between government and business occurs frequently; the anxiety of the people at the bottom and the impetuous mentality of the society are increasing.
The Gilded Age is more of a social survey than a novel. It reveals and criticizes the reality of life in American society during this period from several aspects. Corruption, opportunism and plunder, as well as the social noise and smoke of wealth, are presented to the reader in the images of politicians such as Dilworthy and Colonel Sellers. The Gilded Age combines humor and satire, with unique personal wit, profound social insight and analysis. Humor not only plays a role in regulating life and releasing worries in this novel, but more importantly, enables readers to deeply observe reality, life and society. Society is mercilessly exposed in the humor of The Gilded Age, and the oddities of the underclass are kindly mocked.