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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able to do so very much for yourself!»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 Clydes parents go out on the streets to do Gods work, he and his three siblings must accompany them and take part. But he is uncomfortable doing this. He is a reluctant participant. He doesnt want to wear shabby clothes while singing hymns on a street corner.

«Clydes 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.»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». - Clyde was as vain and proud as he was poor.he turn16, Clyde makes his move, taking a job as assistant to a soda - water clerk at Klinkles Drugstore.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 wasnt 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»., 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.we can see Clyde has been always aspired by better life. He didnt want to live like his parents did, he wanted something much better. That is why hes 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.» He even visits a brothel. Eventually, Clyde meets a pretty girl named Hortense Briggs. She doesnt really care about Clyde. However, she tolerates him for the gifts he gives her and the compliments he bestows on her.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.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.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 doesnt 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». Once committed, the deception makes him feel «shameful» and «low, really mean». Dreiser shows that Clydes conscience troubles him, but his aspirations to have this girl overstep his devotion to the family.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.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.eventually got a job at Chicagos 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.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.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 ones command!».

Clyde goes from being a boy with a family he wants to escape, to a young man who doesnt want to be embarrassed by a new family who wont 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.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.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. Clydes Love Story

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.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». 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.for Hortense, she doesnt really care about Clyde. However, she tolerates him for the gifts he gives her and the compliments he bestows on her.really wanted to give her as much as he can, and he starts to neglect his familys 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.after his friends and he had killed a girl by driving a car, he ran away from Kansas City and moved t

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