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Study Guide

An American Tragedy Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 118 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of An American Tragedy.
This section contains 784 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
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Themes

The American Dream as Illusion

The idea of the American Dream is that all Americans have the opportunity to improve themselves economically and socially. In America, it is said, a person's circumstances at birth place no limit on his or her potential; people can make of themselves whatever they choose and rise as high as they are willing to climb.

If Dreiser's message in An American Tragedy can be summed up in a sentence, it is: the American Dream is a lie. Dreiser creates a microcosm of America by introducing characters that represent every stratum of society and every point on the spectrum of humanity. Then, he shows that their lives reflect the opposite of the American Dream. Clyde Griffiths, the Everyman at the center of the novel, cannot make of himself anything other than what he was when he was born: poor and not particularly perceptive or resourceful...

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This section contains 784 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our An American Tragedy Study Guide
Copyrights
An American Tragedy from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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