The Progressive Era of American History Illustrated in the Novel, Ragtime

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The turn of the century in America introduced new inventions, new lifestyles, and new cultures. This time was called the “progressive era”. The cities were bustling and new amazements came every day. The storyline and the characters in the novel, Ragtime, represent the changes of this time period. From Emma Goldman, to mother, to Evelyn Nesbit, all people and their lives evolved in this period. Emma Goldman, an anarchist, fought for freedom in all aspects of life. Mother became the head of the family and grew into a strong woman who could support herself. Evelyn, a beautiful model scrutinized by the public, was an example of beauty and wealth for all people. She exemplified the new trend of open sexuality and was a prominent example of the…show more content…
He desperately wanted revenge, and ended up shooting White. Thaw was put in a mental institution after the murder, leaving Evelyn alone. With Thaw gone, Evelyn’s beauty “was wasted away before cheap audiences” (Taylor, 1). Evelyn revolutionized the role of women’s sexuality in society. She was open with her beauty and femininity, using them to make a living. As Goldman said: Evelyn was a woman “forced to find her genius in the exercise of her sexual attraction” (Doctorow, 54). This example that Evelyn set was not an admirable one. Many women advanced their places due to urbanization, but Evelyn did not. “Men saw the way Evelyn’s face on the front page of a newspaper sold out the edition”(Doctorow, 84). She was seen as a sex symbol, and her looks were all that people noticed. Society used her as a model of what to look like. She was used to draw audiences in; she was what people wanted to see. She also gave people the idea that they could rise up from poverty and become rich. This was false hope; she was simply lucky to go from rags to riches, not everyone could do that. Evelyn looked weak and needy compared to many other women of the century, she thrived on attention. Mother was a figure who represented the stronger side of women at the turn of the century. While father was off at the North Pole, mother took on the role of head of the family. She became independent and learned how to control the family business. “She was in some way
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