An Analysis of the Extreme Emotions in "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser

Categories: Literature

Life, it can be beautiful, happy, or sad. Life can be any emotion that you can think of. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser, puts us through all these emotions in showing us the extremes in happiness, sadness, anger, and many other emotions to show us what real life is like. To do this most accurately, Dreiser bases his two-book story on a true-life tale about a man and what his rage did to his life.

The first book opens with a man named Clyde.

He is a city boy who finds a job as a local bellhop at a hotel called the Green Davidson. Clyde soon meets a girl by the name of Hortense Briggs. She is a local Kansas girl who plays Clyde as to get fur coats, jewelry, and whatever else she can entice Clyde into buying for her. Clyde makes friends quickly and decides to take a car ride with them. In the process, they get into an accident and in a frantic rush to get away, Clyde flees to a town called Lycurgus.

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The second book opens with Clyde in a brand new city and a brand new life for him to start. Luckily, his uncle owns a textile business and he is quickly employed there. In this new town, Clyde immediately falls in love. The woman’s name is Sondra Finchley and she is Clyde’s dream girl. Unfortunately, there soon comes to be another woman who Clyde begins to find a liking to. Her name is Roberta Alden, a local factory girl whom he works with.

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He decides to break up with Roberta and pursue Sondra, but something happens to complicate the situation immensely, Clyde gets Roberta pregnant.

Clyde is so utterly infatuated with Sondra that he will do anything to be with her, anything, the only problem is that Roberta is pregnant and he will have to marry her. He comes to the conclusion that Roberta needs an abortion, but the local doctor refuses to give her one. Due to his stupidity and blindness due to love, Clyde decides to kill Roberta.

One night, Clyde convinces Roberta to meet him at a close by lake. There, they take a swim and Clyde takes the opportunity to drown her. He is quickly found and put onto trial. He is found guilty and is thrown into jail and is soon electrocuted.

This story is hard to believe, but all of it is true. The novel is based on an incident that happened in 1906, the only things changed were the names. This book shows us all the good things in life and what bad things that they can sometimes lead up to. If you are not afraid to read a true-life horror story, I would definitely recommend this book to you. This book clearly shows that every good thing is accompanied by something bad.

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An Analysis of the Extreme Emotions in "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser. (2022, May 05). Retrieved from

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