One of the brightest representatives of the classical school of naturalism, Theodore Dreiser came to literature when readers around the world were already immersed in the works of Gamlin Garland, Stephen Crane and Frank Norris.
The writer, who developed in his works the basic ideas of his contemporaries’ work, explored the interwoven forces of nature and social tendencies by the example of concrete human life. As a novelist, Dreiser did not forget the theme of the “curse of the flesh,” invariably having compassion for the heroes of his creations.
His debut novel “Sister Carrie” was published in 1900. The plot – the story of a provincial girl Caroline (Kerry) Meeber, who in search of a better life came to Chicago. The work clearly shows the traditional motif of money for the American author. The writer paints a vivid description of the baseness to which man can go for his own well-being.
The novel’s key characters, Carrie and the two men (Drouet and Gerstwood) who have played a defining role in her life, are physiologically alien to affection, appreciation, true gratitude, compassion, and love. All three care only for their own gain and are willing to go toe-to-toe with their own interests at any moment.
The second work, “Jenny Gerhardt,” was published in 1911. In the work it is about a nice, but poor as a church mouse girl with a victim complex, which for the welfare of loved ones goes to the status of concubines. In 1912, the first novel in the “Desire” trilogy was published – the book “The Financier”. The work, the plot of which is based on the biography of American millionaire Charles Yerkes, tells readers the story of the life of Frank Cowperwood.
The protagonist was born into a family of small-time bank clerk, who on reaching adulthood his son arranged his beloved child to work in the firm in which he himself worked. Proved himself in the organization as a talented businessman, Frank after a while left to conquer Philadelphia. There the stockbroker conducted a couple of successful operations and became a millionaire. The new status allowed the young entrepreneur to enter the elite circles of Philadelphia high society.
In addition to describing the financial machinations of the protagonist, the book also contains a second storyline about Cowperwood’s personal life. Dreiser described the character of his novel unvarnished, endowing him with both positive and negative qualities. In the end, unwilling to reckon with the generally accepted principles and rules of conduct in high society, Frank’s rebellious nature leads him to prison.
The action of the next novel, 1914’s Titan, takes place in Chicago. Incapable of drawing conclusions, Frank returns to his native environment of swindling. Now his target is the gas and transportation companies. The financial genius chooses for himself the carrot and stick method. He bribes some officials and intimidates others. Competitors, whose interests inadvertently affected the businessman, engage in a bitter war for power with an undesirable entrepreneur.