The main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreisers novel An American Tragedy

The peculiarities of American history in the early XX century. The novel by Dreiser "An American tragedy" - mirrors the bourgeois American society. Dreisers Biography. The Roaring Twenties. Clydes Character and Love Story, Aspirations for High Society.

01.02.2012
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The main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy

1. Introduction

My interest about Theodore Dreiser's An American tragedy started when I watched the movie based on this novel. Then I decided to read the original book and it appeared to be even more interesting and thrilling than the movie. American Tragedy is a detailed portrayal of the dark side of the American Dream - the story of what can happen when an ordinary man's desire for wealth and status overwhelms his moral sense.

There is no person who normally lives in complete isolation from society. Everyone is a part of community and certain environment and they both make a huge influence on us whether we are aware of it or not. Our goals, dreams, morals, lifestyle and even behaviour is affected and in many cases - dictated - by world around us. This connection always existed, exists now and will continue to last, because every person is a social and not a reticent creature.

The topic of my research is The main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy and it reveals how in the beginning of the 20th century society influenced novel's main character.

Aims:

1. To investigate the main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy.

2. To follow the influence of bourgeois society on the character of a young man in the early 20th century.

Tasks:

1. To study the peculiarities of American history in the early 20th century.

2. To get acquainted with the novel by Theodore Dreiser An American tragedy, that mirrors the bourgeois American society in the beginning of 20th century.

3. To investigate the character of Clyde Griffiths as a representative of young American people and his character's changes due to the society influence.

1. Theodore Dreiser's Biography

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (August 27, 1871 - December 28, 1945) was an American novelist and journalist.

Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, to Sarah and John Paul Dreiser, a strict Catholic family. He was the twelfth of thirteen children (the ninth of the ten surviving). His father had emigrated from Mayen, Germany in 1844, worked briefly in New England wool mills, and then moved to the Midwest, where large numbers of Germans had settled. He went first to Ohio, where he met Sarah, the daughter of a Mennonite family that had come to Ohio from Pensylvania. They moved to Indiana, first to Fort Wayne and then to Terre Haute.

Dreiser's childhood coincided with the family's hard times. Consequently, his earliest memories included the joblessness of his father and older siblings, as well as the constant search for economic stability. Through his first sixteen years, he lived in five different towns, at times relocating only with his mother and two of his siblings. In the end, Dreiser's early life was emotionally unstable, and he had only few educational opportunities, which was a special hardship for such a bookish boy.

Although Dreiser was a serious student, he never finished high school. The conduct of his siblings, especially the sexual adventures of his sisters, entered into his decision to leave school. Depressed over his family's poor social standing in the small northern Indiana town of Warsaw, Theodore moved to Chicago at the age of fifteen or sixteen (in sources information differs) and held jobs washing dishes, clerking a hardware store, and tracing freight cars. Dreiser fortunately was able to escape when a former teacher offered to send him to Indiana University at Bloomington for a year (1889-1890). He soon became interested in journalism, but returned to Chicago and worked as a bill collector, real estate clerk and laundry-truck driver.

Dreiser first entered the newspaper world by dispensing toys for the needy at Christmas for the Chicago Herald. He subsequently got hired as a cub reporter with the Chicago Globe and later went to St. Louis as a feature writer for the Globe-Democrat. Things took a turn for the worse when Dreiser accidently reviewed a theatre performance in absentia even though it turned out the show was never performed. He left St. Louis and moved to Pittsburgh, working with the Dispatch. With a secure job again, Dreiser married Sara Osborne White, after meeting her at the Chicago World's fair. The couple moved to New York where he received a job as a magazine editor. At the suggestion of his editor friend Arthur Henry, Dreiser began writing his first novel, the result of which was Sister Carrie.

In 1925 he wrote An American tragedy. Dreiser based the book on a notorious criminal case. On July 11, 1906, resort owners found an overturned boat and the body of 20-year-old Grace Brown at Big Moose Lake in upstate New York. Chester Gillette was put on trial and convicted of killing Brown, though he claimed that her death was an accident. Gillette was executed by electric chair in 1908. The murder trial drew international attention when Brown's love letters to Gillette were read in court. Dreiser saved newspaper clippings about the case for several years before writing his novel, during which he studied the case closely. Clyde Griffiths was based on Chester Gillette, wittingly carrying the same initials.

By the late 1920s Dreiser had become famous as an old warrior in the battles for literary freedom in America, a war that in fact had been won by this point. Despite his new-found security, he championed an array of public causes in the last two decades of his life. Although the Great Depression and the threat of American involvement in another World War were strong stimulants to social activism, this was not a new direction for Dreiser. He had always prided himself on being what he called radically American, which for him had included his freedom to defend the rights of speech of socialists, anarchists, and other radical groups who had criticized American capitalist values.

Dreiser left New York in 1938 and permanently settled in California, where he lived his final years with Helen Richardson, whom he married in 1944. For many readers today, the most important works of his last seven years are his last two novels, The Bulwark and The Stoic.

Theodore Dreiser joined the American Communist Party in July 1945. He summed up his reasons for his decision: Belief in the greatness and dignity of Man has been the guiding principle of my life and work. The logic of my life and work leads me therefore to apply for membership in the Community Party.

Theodore Dreiser died from heart attack on 28th December 1945. Henry L. Mencken, who had been a great supporter of Dreiser during his lifetime, argued: No other American of his generation left so wide and handsome a mark upon the national letters. American writing, before and after his time, differed almost as much as biology before and after Darwin. He was a man of large originality, of profound feeling, and of unshakable courage. All of us who write are better off because he lived, worked, and hoped.

2. The Roaring Twenties

novel american tragedy clyd

The 1920s are variously known as the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, and the Dance Age. They were a time of both success and excess. More Americans were rich than ever before, thanks to a booming stock market, rising land values, new inventions, and new ways of producing goods that made things affordable to more Americans. Even average-income Americans began to acquire conveniences that had been either unavailable or unaffordable just a few years before: cars, radios, indoor plumbing, electric refrigerators and washing machines, and more.

With so much money around and so many things to buy, many Americans focused on getting rich and having fun. Young women called flappers flouted traditional restrictions. They wore short skirts and short hair, and they spent their time dancing, going to movies, and drinking liquor. The use of illicit drugs and alcohol, illegal during Prohibition (1920-1933), surged along with the stock market.

The America of the 1920s produced countless young men like Clyde Griffiths, who found themselves excited by and obsessed with a world that glittered with a thousand new pleasures. Some of these young men-even some who, like Clyde, were born poor-did get rich, through some combination of intelligence, ambition, resourcefulness, hard work, and luck. Many others did not. Some who did not become fabulously wealthy nevertheless did well. The arts and sports thrived along with industry; writers (including Dreiser, of course), musicians, movie stars, and baseball players earned fame with their talents.

Not everyone got rich or famous, or even lived better than they had before. Farmers (like Roberta's father in the novel) struggled, as the prices they could get for their crops dropped. This was partly because the end of World War I meant less demand for food. The military downsized drastically and needed less food for troops, and European nations were able to begin growing their own food again. New mechanized production processes also threw many people out of work and into poverty.

The 1920s was a time in which American society rearranged itself. Some people made great gains, others suffered loss and deprivation, and few ended up where they had started.

3. Clyde's Character

Clyde Griffiths is young man, who grows up poor in the early 20th Century, hoping someday to break free of his family and climb into the upper circles of American society. He wants to be somebody. What a wretched thing it was to be born poor and not to have any one to do anything for you and not to be able to do so very much for yourself! An American tragedy p.18

Clyde is one of four children of Asa and Elvira Griffiths, who preach and sing the Gospel on the streets of Kansas City, Missouri, receiving donations along the way. Whenever Clyde's parents go out on the streets to do God's work, he and his three siblings must accompany them and take part. But he is uncomfortable doing this. He is a reluctant participant. He doesn't want to wear shabby clothes while singing hymns on a street corner.

Clyde's was constantly thinking of how he might better himself, if he had a chance; places to which he might go, things he might see, and how differently he might live, if only this, that and the other things were true. An American tragedy p.14

For at fifteen, and even a little earlier, Clyde began to understand that his education had been sadly neglected. For true to the standard of the American youth, or the general American attitude toward life, he felt himself above the type of labor which was purely manual. An American tragedyp.18 - Clyde was as vain and proud as he was poor.

After he turn16, Clyde makes his move, taking a job as assistant to a soda - water clerk at Klinkle's Drugstore.

At the age of sixteen he was troubled by the beauty of the opposite sex. The matter of his clothes and his physical appearance began to trouble him not less. It was painful to him to think that his clothes were not right; that he was not as handsome as he might be. The fact that his family wasn't happy, that he had never had any real friends, and could not have any, as he saw it, was because of the work and connection of his parents. And yet before he had ever earned any money at all, he had always told himself that if only he had a better collar, a nicer shirt, finer shoes, a good suit, like some boys had. Some parents of boys of his years actually gave them cars of their own to ride in And pretty girls with them. And he had nothing. And he had never had. An American tragedyp.19

Meanwhile, his sister Esta runs away with an actor, and his parents begin talking of moving again, this time to Denver. Clyde decides that he will not be going to Denver. He also decides that he wants a more prestigious, higher-paying job.

As we can see Clyde has been always aspired by better life. He didn't want to live like his parents did, he wanted something much better. That is why he's going to work to Kansas City hotel where he works as a bellboy. For the first time in his life, he has money in his pockets; he can dress well and enjoy himself. Clyde makes several friends on the job, and they show him what they think real living is all about - fine food, vine and whiskey, women. He began to sense the delight of personal freedom - to sniff the air of personal and delicious romance - and he was not to be held back by any suggestion which his mother could now make. An American tragedy p.57 He even visits a brothel. Eventually, Clyde meets a pretty girl named Hortense Briggs. She doesn't really care about Clyde. However, she tolerates him for the gifts he gives her and the compliments he bestows on her.

During this time, Esta returns to Kansas City - pregnant but unmarried - after her boyfriend leaves her in Pittsburgh. She lives apart from the family, and Mrs. Griffiths gives her money and food.

He and Hortense share the understanding that if Clyde bought her the fur jacket she wanted she would sleep with him by way of payment. Before this can happen, Clyde and Hortense find themselves passengers in a fatal auto accident that will force Clyde to flee town. He waits until the last possible chance to escape, and is almost caught by the police. Hortense runs off toward the city, thinking only of herself.

When Esta is seduced by a masher and left pregnant, Clyde visits her secretly. But when his mother asks him for money to give Esta, he pretends that he doesn't have it. He wants to spend all his savings on Hortense. He could not bring himself to think of losing Hortense. He must have her. An American tragedy p.20 Once committed, the deception makes him feel shameful and low, really mean. An American tragedy p.20 Dreiser shows that Clyde's conscience troubles him, but his aspirations to have this girl overstep his devotion to the family.

After a period of drifting following the auto accident, Clyde reappears in Book Two as a more ambitious character, but also a more vulnerable one. More easily tempted by material wealth, he is also more emotionally isolated. Consequently, for the next three years, Clyde became smoothing of a fugitive, living for a while in St. Louis, Peoria, and Milwaukee. He supported himself by taking menial jobs - one in a restaurant, another in a shoe store, another in a grocery, and so on. While making a delivery to the Union League Hotel, he ran into Ratterer, who was employed there. Ratterer said his sister had informed him that Sparser did a year in prison. Hortense Briggs went to New York with a man who worked in a cigar store.

Separated from his immediate family in Kansas City, Clyde attunes himself o the spirit of the industrial age, when family - based sympathy no longer binds people in place as it once did.

Clyde eventually got a job at Chicago's Great Northern Hotel. Three months later, he accepted a position at the Union League, a superior hotel, after Ratterer spoke up for him. It was at the Union League that Clyde encountered his uncle, Samuel Griffiths, who offered him a job back in Lycurgus at the Griffiths Collar and Shirt Company, Inc., after noticing that Clyde seemed to have a pleasant demeanour and that he resembled his son, Gilbert, a company executive.

Clyde accepts his uncle's offer, moves east, and goes to work in the six-story factory while living in a boarding house. Gilbert assigns him to a job in the shrinking room. Clyde is forced to work a menial job at the Griffiths factory.

One might say that Clyde changes spheres here, from the domestic to the economic. He leaves his parents' religious, sympathetic home and hearth for the commercial world of the factory, where every man is out for himself. Following his desires, Clyde becomes a market - driven free agent - or more accurately, an eager resident of a world which encourages him to become one. He tries hard to meet the requirements of this world, but the Lycurgus Griffiths family isolates him; despite being poorly handled by his cousin Gilbert, Clyde finds reason to admire him because of his arrogance and riches: How wonderful it must be to be a son who, without having had to earn all this, could still be so much, take oneself so seriously, exercise so much command and authority. It might be, as it plainly was, that this youth was very superior and indifferent in tone toward him. But think of being such a youth, having so much power at one's command!. An American tragedy p.223

Clyde goes from being a boy with a family he wants to escape, to a young man who doesn't want to be embarrassed by a new family who won't accept him. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is in this chilly social and family environment that Clyde, in his desperate effort to fit in, starts to plot a murder for personal advancement.

On one hand, Clyde Griffiths is certainly a hard - boiled character. He plots a murder for money, love and social position. His treatment of Roberta Alden, the woman he seduces and impregnates, shows him amply capable of callousness before the suffering of another person. Such calculated self - interest characterizes the actions of many hard - boiled protagonists. But such behaviour does not amount to a full portrait of Clyde, whom Dreiser also shows to be sensitive, and capable of a delicacy and open longing for love and connection - what was once called sensibility - that makes him anything but hard - boiled for Dreiser, the combination of cold greed and warm sympathy together define Clyde. Without the longing to belong, he would never have committed the crime in the first place, and if he was not so conflicted about the cruelty of the act, he would have done a better job of it.

From the other side, Clyde is a weak - willed young man who destroys himself by aiming to become rich. He becomes a victim of the values of a deceptive, materialistic society.

In the beginning, Clyde did not have money, sex, or a social life. Throughout his life, he struggled to obtain these things, this purchasable happiness and false sincerity that money could buy or rent. On the road to murder, he begged for a job at the Greene - Davidson Hotel; he used his salary to solicit prostitutes, clothe himself fashionably, and date Hortense. Two years before his death, Clyde still did not realize that his life was useless and horrible, a sham.

4. Clyde's Love Story

Clyde was attracted to women since he was at the age of 16. He was at once girl - hungry and girl - shy. And he always thought that if he wants to get the prettiest girls, he has to look handsome and rich.

His first love was a pretty girl named Hortense Briggs, who works in a Kansas City store. When he meets her for the first time, he already notices that she was not a little coarse and vulgar - a very long way removed from the type of girl he had been imagining in his dreams that he would like to have. An American tragedy p.72 When he asks her out, she pretends to have dates with other fellows. Nevertheless, she agrees to see him on occasion, accepting little gifts from him even though she does not care about him.

As for Hortense, she doesn't really care about Clyde. However, she tolerates him for the gifts he gives her and the compliments he bestows on her.

Clyde really wanted to give her as much as he can, and he starts to neglect his family's needs, particularly his faithful mother and sister Esta, the latter having been seduced, impregnated and left by a faithless lover. Hortense's manipulative, materialistic behaviour is partly perceived by Clyde, despite all his attempts at denial, and it causes him considerable pain throughout the relationship, which in the end is never consummated.

But after his friends and he had killed a girl by driving a car, he ran away from Kansas City and moved to Lycurgus, New York. He had already forgotten about Hortense, and had started to work in his uncle's factory. In Lycurgus the name Griffiths gave Clyde a certain cachet, but his patrons regarded him as poor relation, a poor embarrassment, and virtually ignored him. But he got new friend and got known with two girls who had been from his background. They were as poor as he was. Clyde communicated with them only because no one else did it. So he met Zella and Rita. Clyde was interested in the fact that the girls were pretty and out of clear sky and in the face of his loneliness. But after some period of time he thought that those girls were too available if not exactly dangerous and so far as his future was concerned. Even in spite of the way he liked Rita, he put an end to his relations with her and any relations with all current friends, because his uncle noticed him and invited him to his house for dinner with his family.

At the dinner he meets Sondra Finchley as smart and vain and sweet a girl as Clyde had ever laid his eyes upon - so different to any he had ever known and so superior. To Clyde's eyes she was the most adorable feminine thing he had seen in all his days. An American tragedy p.219

In the days following dinner, Clyde yearns to become part of the world of the Griffiths. Clyde is to take charge of the stamping department, where about 25 young women prepare directions for how collars are to be finished. Clyde is ecstatic.

With Miss Finchley out of reach-at least temporarily-he begins seeing another attractive woman, Roberta Alden, a farmer's daughter who works in his department at the factory. Clyde's factory girlfriend believes in life and love. Like Clyde, she desires a better life and better marriage prospects, but she has no grand illusions about marrying into wealth and luxury. She believes in the efficacy of her efforts and in the value of continuing her education. Morality is important to her, but the passion overwhelms her. Gilbert Griffiths had forbidden Clyde to mingle socially with any of the factory girls, but Clyde and Roberta meet secretly and eventually become intimate. All goes well, and Clyde - in answer to her prodding - vows never to leave her.

Then he encounters Sondra Finchley again. It is evening, and he is out walking when a limousine pulls up with her in the back seat. She has mistaken Clyde for Gilbert and offers him a ride. After realizing her mistake, she does not mind at all, for she finds Clyde more likable than Gilbert. Clyde sees Sondra Finchley, lying to Roberta that he is called upon by his uncle to do some work. He doesn't want to see Roberta; Clyde is too fascinated by Sondra. So much for the effect of the wealth, beauty, the peculiar social state to which he most aspired, on a temperament that was as fluid and unstable as water After inviting him to various social events, she is quite taken with him and falls in love with him - and he with her and her social status.

Clyde, of course, forgets all about Roberta - almost. Rather than breaking off with her all at once, he goes out with her occasionally in order to cut his ties with her gradually. But a twist of fate takes him by surprise: She is pregnant. The news devastates Clyde, for he and Sondra had become very close.

After persuading Roberta to abort the child, Clyde travels to Schenectady, N.Y., where know no one knows him, and buys a box of pills from an unscrupulous clerk. Somewhat relieved, he returns and gives them to Roberta.

When he checks on Roberta in the following days, she tells him the pills are not working. He takes Roberta to Gloversville, where a certain physician is said to administer abortions. However, despite Roberta's pleadings, he refuses to abort the child. Roberta is now set on having the baby and makes Clyde promise to marry her. It appears he has no way out - until he sees a newspaper headline which tells about accidental double tragedy at Pass Lake.

The thought of committing murder horrifies him at first. But the more he thinks about killing Roberta, the more he convinces himself that he has no alternative. If she has the baby, he is disgraced, ruined. Marrying Sondra would be out of the question. One day, he goes off with her to a resort area in upper New York State. Roberta thinks they are eloping. After they arrive, he takes her out in a boat, on Lake Bittern, to do the deed. It won't be difficult, for Roberta cannot swim.

When they set off from shore, he takes along his camera under the pretence that he plans to snap pictures of her. He is unable to act, unable to go through with his plan. As he sits there, it is if he is in a trance. Concerned, Roberta asks why he looks so strange, and then leans over to him to take his hand. Angry with himself for his failure to proceed, angry with Roberta for her power over him, he reacts to her movement toward him, throwing out at her with the camera in his hand. He does not mean to harm her; he wants only to prevent her from holding his hand. But the camera strikes her in the face, throwing her back. The boat rocks and she falls in. Clyde lets her drown.

Clyde did not even feel reproach of his conscience he was only afraid that he could be arrested. He fled the scene of Roberta's death, but circumstantial evidence, including letter to Clyde from Roberta and Sondra, led to his arrest for first - degree murder. Sondra left town, and her identity was never publicly revealed.

Clyde had lost both girls whom he had loved.

Clyde's women - Hortense, Sondra, Roberta, Rita, and many others - are nothing more than pleasure seekers.

5. Clyde's Aspirations for High Society

From an early age, Clyde is a social and economic outcast. His parent's job and poverty were embarrassing for him. This is why he wanted to leave his family and attain higher social class for himself. Clyde hated poverty and tried to escape from it anyhow. He always lied about his parents' occupation, making them seen to be more important than they really were. He began to think about work at the age of fifteen. Clyde desired to get his first dollar, his first salary. After working in a malt shop for several months, Clyde finds a job at the Greene-Davidson Hotel as a bellboy. There, he makes more than $40 a week there. His friends show him what they think real living is about - fine food, expensive alcohol and women. Finally, he is able to dress well, enter a higher social class, meet females, and escape his family. But his friend runs over a little girl during a joyride in a stolen Packard.

One of Clyde's role models is his uncle Samuel Griffiths, who immediately recognized the boy's resemblance to his own son Gilbert and invited the ambitious bellboy to work at his collar factory in Lycurgus. Clyde was nearly faint with the sense of such great possibility.

In a small upstate town dominated only a few families; even a poor relation of the powerful Griffiths might become a chance of social success through that family connection. But Clyde's ambitions were put down by the suspicious Gilbert, who placed his cousin at the bottom of the factory - in shrinking room.

Hope for achieving the top rose when Clyde was promoted to head stamping department. This mid - level clerkship signified a chance to move closer to full acceptance, even a kind of quality with the Griffiths.

Clyde's concerns were less moral than social. Even during the early phases of his affair with Roberta, he feared he might be chained forever to this factory girl. Sondra Finchley appeared to offer a way out. When she began a progressively serious flirtation with him, he was enthusiastic. At a dinner dance sponsored by the local dwellers, she slipped a white arm under Clyde's, and he felt as though he was slowly but surely being transported to paradise An American tragedy p.311-312. He wanted this relationship because he would become very wealthy with her. That is why he spent all his money on Sondra to show her that he was not poor, that he befitted her.

His restlessness was understandable recoil from the cramped life of his parents. His mother would never understand his carving for ease and luxury, for beauty, for love his particular kind of love that went with show, pleasure, position, eager and immutable aspiration and desires An American tragedy p.47.

Clyde's aspirations discovered the vices of the society. His vices started to discover when his mother asked him for twenty - five dollars for his sister Esta because she really needed that money but Clyde denied her request, saying that hid he didn't have money at all because he wanted to buy an expensive overcoat for Hortense who had been probably more important than his family. He desired for wealth, status, luxury and he overstepped his moral principles. Money was on the first place for him. And as a result he lost everything that was important to him, and even his life Clyde thought that money played the main role in people's life and you could overstep your moral principles just to get something you had been dreaming of.

6. Crime and punishment

Clyde started to think about the murder when he realized that Roberta had become a danger for him. She could reveal their relationship and he would have to forget about luxury, wealth and status. as he was putting out the light before getting into bed, and still thinking of the complicated problem which his own life her presented, he was struck by the thought (what devil's whisper? - what evil hint of an evil spirit?) - supposing that he and Roberta - no, say he and Sondra - (no, Sondra could swim so well, and so could he) - he and Roberta were in a small boat somewhere and it should capsize at the very time, say, of this dreadful complication which was so harassing him? What an escape? What a relief from a gigantic and by now really destroying problem! On the other hand - hold - not so fast - for could a man even think of such a solution in connection with so difficult a problem as his without committing a crime in his heart, really - a horrible, terrible crime? He must not even think such a thing. It was wrong - wrong - terribly wrong. And yet, supposing, - by accident, of course - such as thing as this did occur? That would be the end, then, wouldn't it, of all his troubles in connection with Roberta? No more terror as to her - no more fear and heartache even as to Sondra. A noiseless, pathless, quarrel less solution of all his present difficulties, and only joy before him forever. Just an accidental, unpremeditated drowning - and then the glorious future would be his! An American tragedy p.457-458 So he decided to plan a murder because there was no other way out for him. He took her to the lake at Big Bittern to kill her. In the boat as the moment was approaching be acted strange and Roberta, noticing it, suddenly rose and attempted to approach him. And then, as she drew near him, seeking to take his hands in hers and the camera from him in order to put in the boat, he flinging out at her, but not even with any intension to do other than free himself of her. And then he, stirred by her sharp scream, rising and reaching half to assist or recapture her and half to apologize for unintended blow - yet in so doing completely capsizing the boat - himself and Roberta being as instantly thrown into the water. An American tragedy p.539

Clyde was a good swimmer but he did not help Roberta to get out of the waterThat is how the crime happened. This case was investigated by a district layer Mason and by investigator Burleigh. Once Clyde was captured for the murder of Roberta Alden, the case earns a national audience: And then out of the north woods a crime sensation of the first magnitude, with all of those intriguingly colorful, and yet morally and spiritually atrocious, elements - love, romance, wealth, poverty, death. And at once picturesque accounts of where and how Clyde had lived in Lycurgus, with whom he had been connected, how he had managed to conceal his relations with one girl while obviously planning to elope with another - being wired for and published by that type of editor so quick to sense the national news value of crimes such as this. An American tragedy p.605 When they arrested Clyde, he denied everything, they knew that he was lying but they did not have enough evidence to prove it. Mason were personally re-measuring the wounds upon Roberta's face and head, Burleigh slyly threading two of her hairs in between the door and the lens of the camera. Mason immediately accepted them as a conclusive evidence of Clyde's guilt An American tragedy p.616

But as for Mason, he kept bearing in mind the fact that, in view of his own approaching nomination in the coming November election, this murder is a good opportunity to be elected to the local judgeship. And according to the spirits of public opinion, which were bitterly and vigorously anti-Clyde, a quick trial will seem fair and logical to everyone in this local word. So it was profitable for both Mason and Burleigh to get Clyde in jail as quickly as possible.

The jury consisted of twelve men who came from the same background as Roberta Alden had. They were very strict in their beliefs; they could not judge Clyde as fairly as it was possible. Everyone was convinced of his guilt. But when he tried to appeal against the court's decision, his request had been refused. And soon he was electrocuted There was a system - a horrible routine system - as long since he had come to feel it to be so. It was iron. It moved automatically like a machine without the aid or the hearts of men. These guards! They with their letters, their inquiries, their pleasant and yet really hollow words, their trips to do little favors, or to take the men in and out of the yard or to their baths - they were iron, too - mere machines, automatons, pushing and pushing and yet restraining and restraining one - within these walls, as ready to kill as to favor in case of opposition - but pushing, pushing, pushing - always toward that little door over there, from which there was no escape - no escape - just on and on - until at last they would push him through it never to return. Never to return! An American tragedy p.802

I think Clyde did not deserve that kind of death; it would be more humane to set him in jail for life, but not to expose him a death penalty. Clyde died unsure of the extent of his own guilt and of the line between truth and untruth, reality and fantasy. But Mason reached everything he wanted; he did not care of Clyde at all, he just wanted to be promoted.

Unfortunately, this problem exists even nowadays. Poor people who are innocent suffer due to rich people who are guilty but have a lot of money and connections It shows that our society hasn't changed, and money will continue destroying people and take main part in people's lives

Conclusion

An American Tragedy is an intriguing, frighteningly realistic journey into the mind of a murderer. It is a biography of its era. And, it is also historical fiction. But what makes this novel a classic? While society has changed dramatically since 1925, Dreiser's novel, which shows the futility of The American Dream and the tragedies that trying to live it can cause, accurately summarizes social mores of this and any time period. Dreiser depicts a crime motivated by the pursuit of the American dream, which, in the end, reveals itself to be only an illusion.

The final chapter called Souvenir, begins with the same five words as the first chapter - Dusk, of a summer night - and presents a scene like the one in the first chapter: the Asa Griffiths family walking along a street, preparing to sing and spread the Gospel. One may conclude from this structural scheme that the themes of the novel, such as the pursuit of materialism, apply to the entire country and that the outcome of the novel will repeat itself from one generation of Americans to the next, as the final chapter suggests when it echoes the first chapter-this time with Esta's son, Russell.

What will happen to him? Will he become another Clyde?

This book showed me how obsession of becoming rich can destroy human's soul. Writing this project I have read the novel An American tragedy, used many critical articles and definitely improved my English skills. I would like to advise young people to read this book. I am sure, they won't be disappointed. People, stop feeding yourself that money, high society, luxury and status can make you happy. There is something more

Bibliography

1. Theodore Dreiser An American Tragedy, Irving Howe, 1964.

2. Bucco, Martin. Cliffs Notes: An American Tragedy. Edited by Gary Carey and James L. Roberts. Lincoln, Nebraska: Cliffs Notes, 1974.

3. Day, Martin S. History of American Literature from 1910 to Present. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1971.

4. http://lib.ru/INPROZ/DRAJZER/tragedy.txt

5. http://www.enotes.com/american-tragedy

6. http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/An-American-Tragedy

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_American_Tragedy

8. http://www.oxfordadvancedlearnersdictionary.com/dictionary/

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