McTeague: A Story of San Francisco Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 47 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of McTeague.
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As befits a classic naturalistic novel, the story told in McTeague asserts that the individual, rather than being the free creature described by Ralph Waldo Emerson in such essays as "Self Reliance" (1841), is conditioned by the ineluctable forces of heredity, environment, and chance, and moreover, is at every moment subject to physical and psychic deterioration. To give these themes dramatic form, Norris follows a pattern he took from the popular interpretations of evolutionary theory he had learned from LeConte and Lombroso. At the start of the novel McTeague, a massive, mentally slow, and psychologically primitive man, has reached the apex of his individual development. The simple routine of his daily life is upset when "mysterious instincts" attract him to Trina, a girl from a thrifty Swiss peasant background. Their courtship and marriage awaken his natural brutality and her hereditary desire for saving, two of the subconscious forces governing their...

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This section contains 417 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the McTeague: A Story of San Francisco Study Guide
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