Character analysis of Clyde Griffith, the protagonist of Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy
A look at the personality of Clyde Griffith, showing how he is an embodiment of naturalism constantly at odds with his environment. The paper shows how his perception is thwarted by his blind reliance on instinct rather than reason. Clyde represents the futility of the American Dream, his instincts lead him on a fruitless quest for more and until his last days, he remained a stock example of greed.
Two particular places where this type of perception manifests itself are in Sondra’s kitchen and on the boat with Roberta right before Clyde kills her. In both cases he arrives at the respective locations through his relentless pursuit for the one thing he never obtains, happiness. His relationships with both Sondra and Roberta are both demonstrative of the same blind adherence to the lesson society has taught him: material success and material possessions are everything. Having already weak morals he instantly agreed. Clyde saw both of these women as vehicles for his own pleasure. The descriptions of the aforementioned situations provide much insight into Clyde’s character.