The Protagonist in Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

1396 Words6 Pages
The picture of the protagonist that Theodore Dreiser’s novel, Sister Carrie, portrays is only a half-truth. By examining Sister Carrie’s character, she is readily deemed as passive, weak, and full of superficial desires and yet in this profoundly inert nature lies the seed for the greater expression of an artistic soul. However, this realization is only drawn out by Ames’s archetypically scholarly eyes (the intelligent but withdrawn engineer); bringing forth the powerful and intimate beauty that Carrie possesses, which without a photograph, the reader would forever remain blind to. Nevertheless, as Ames draws out the riches of Carrie’s humanity, he delineates yet another ideal, the ideal of the artist, which lies far away from the comfort…show more content…
Moreover, this attraction simply overrides Carrie’s struggling conscience, which “would appear only when the pleasant side was not too apparent, when Drouet was not there,” leaving her a “victim of the city’s hypnotic influence” (p75, 65). Furthermore, Carrie’s affection for the “superior” Hurstwood, who with his style and easy manners, represents yet another higher stratum and thus misleads her emotions and smoothly sways her unreasoning mind since “there was so much enthusiasm engendered that she was believing herself deeply in love. She sighed as she thought of her handsome adorer … they would be happy” (p163). This self-delusion is fully exposed when her relationship with Hurstwood is brought into sudden question. She hangs “in quandary, balancing between indecision and helplessness” until finally Hurstwood’s passion for her renewing “youth and freshness” re-conquers her (p218). Ultimately, Carrie’s own goals in life remain so vague that she cannot act upon them, even when the fundamental security and position in her life is brought under threat. This passivity typifies her even as she is stuck in the gloomy and decaying marriage with Hurstwood for three years, where “being of a passive and receptive nature rather than an active and aggressive nature, Carrie
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