An American Tragedy Themes

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The Influences of Society on the Will of the Individual

This is one of the major themes of the novel and is a favorite topic for Dreiser. His belief that life is mostly determined by forces outside of an individual’s control appears in many forms throughout the work. As far as the influences of society and society’s way of thinking, Clyde is shown to be especially susceptible. He always reacts to the forces which are beyond him, whether it be the beliefs of his parents or the lures of material wealth. Such influences appear to be neither entirely positive nor entirely negative. The devout religious beliefs of Clyde’s parents, which probably should be considered positive, are the main source of oppression in Clyde’s early life. In trying to escape, they cause him to seek out secular pleasures enthusiastically, which although satisfying, ultimately prove to be...

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This section contains 658 words
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