The main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreiser’s novel «An American Tragedy

was attracted to women since he was at the age of 16. He was at once girl - hungry and

The main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreiser’s novel «An American Tragedy

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


1. Introduction

interest about Theodore Dreisers «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 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.topic of my research is «The main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreisers novel «An American Tragedy»» and it reveals how in the beginning of the 20th century society influenced novels main character.


.To investigate the main character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreisers novel «An American Tragedy».

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

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

.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 characters changes due to the society influence.

1. Theodore Dreisers 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.'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, Dreisers early life was emotionally unstable, and he had only few educational opportunities, which was a special hardship for such a bookish boy.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.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 Worlds 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.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.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.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».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.»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 clydе

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 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.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.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.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. Clydes Character

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

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