Free Study Guide for An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser|
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ONLINE STUDY GUIDE FOR AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY BY THEODORE DREISER
Title: An American Tragedy
Author: Theodore Dreiser
Date Published: 1925
Meaning of Title: The American pursuit of affluence and wealth is often
the source of an American's downfall.
Setting: Midwest America, then upstate New York.
Protagonist: Clyde Griffiths
Antagonist: American culture in general: Gilbert Griffiths, Roberta
Alden, Orville Mason, Duncan McMillan as its representatives.
Mood: Somber, introspective.
Point of View: Third person with frequent forays into a particular
character's perspective, most often Clyde's.
Exposition: Clyde is introduced as a child, yearning for a more affluent
and romantic life than what his family leads as street missionaries in
the cities of the Midwest.
Rising Action: Clyde's desire for social and financial affluence force
him to choose between Roberta Alden, the poor factory girl he impregnated,
and Sondra Finchley, the daughter of a rich factory owner.
Climax: Clyde kills Roberta at Big Bittern, neglecting to save her
from drowning when his murder plot goes awry.
Outcome: Clyde is arrested for his crime, placed on trial, sentenced
to death and executed, though his life could have been saved by the intervention
of Reverend McMillan.
Major Themes: The contradiction of American ambition, differences in
Minor Themes: The lure of materialism and the corrupting influence
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. 09 May 2017