Use Of Symbolism In Sister Carrie English Literature Essay

August 13, 2017 English Literature

The realistic author presents his subject through symbolic item. The usage of symbolism in Sister Carrie offers some redolent effects to this novel, viz. , it eases to find the elements, expose the world and consolidate the subject. In this manner the symbolic grade of the narrative put down directly over the events and happenings of the simple narrative itself. Dreiser ‘s usage of symbolic item permeates the fresh ranging from careful descriptions of frocks and adornment to descriptions of great American metropoliss and their milieus.

The writer must do the reader aware that the inside informations are of import to the significance. Harmonizing to Donald Pizer in his The Novels of Theodore Dreiser: A Critical Study, “ Dreiser is much more successful as a symbolic than as a metaphoric author ” . Dreiser by and large accomplishes this terminal through a sort of “ incremental repeat ” ( qtd. in Ward, web ) of of import inside informations. Occasionally, nevertheless, he shows a deficiency of nuance when he addresses his reader straight to uncover his purpose.

By entering carefully Carrie ‘s reaction to specific events Dreiser shows her traveling from her early naA?ve optimism to her concluding disenchantment and desperation. Carrie ‘s sensitiveness to inside informations provides the emotional Centre of the novel. The most of import forms of inside informations, in add-on to vesture and money, are mirrors, the theater, hotels, and eating houses ; insides and homes chiefly. These comprise the walled and aureate metropolis to which Carrie seeks entryway.

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Rocking to dreamland

Symbols in Sister Carrie are what E.K. Brown, in his Rhythm in the Novel called rhythmical symbols because they invariably reappear in assorted contexts altering in character and state of affairs during the novel. The swaying chair as a symbol of dream for Carrie in Chicago and of flight for Hurstwood in New York, and it is an obvious illustration of a rhythmical symbol. . ( qtd. in Pizer, 1976: 91 )

Throughout Sister Carrie, the symbol of the swaying chair is employed by Dreiser to reflect “ the restlessness, the hectic activity, which leads Carrie to no fulfilling finish ” ( Gerber,1964: 62 ) . Early in the fresh Carrie is seen swaying in her sister ‘s level on Van Buren Street, dreaming of get awaying with Drouet. As Drouet ‘s kept woman in Ogden Place she desires a epicurean life, celebrity, hand clapping, polish. The swaying chair is a symbol of Carrie ‘s continued defeat and her inability to do a pick, hesitating alternatively from one possibility to the other. Just before Hurstwood ‘s two visits which occur along chapters eleven and twelve Carrie sits swaying in her chair. Dreiser takes the chance to bode the future result of her desire: “ She hummed and hummed as the minutes went by aˆ¦and was in this as happy though she did non comprehend it, as she of all time should be ” ( 87 ) . In New York when populating with Hurstwood, she sits swaying to and fro, believing how “ common topographic point ” ( 229 ) her pretty level is compared with “ what the remainder of the universe was basking ” ( 229 ) – the remainder of the universe made of those who had money and had a better life than hers. ( Gerber, 1964: 62 )

In contrast to Carrie, after losing his concern, Hurstwood uses the swaying chair to chew over over the lost yearss, the dog-tired financess and his deficiency of strength. In the chair ‘s slow and perennial gesture he finds a narcotic dream of security.

The concluding position of Carrie is traveling. She now finds herself swaying in her chair, “ successful but unhappy, complete but unrealized ” ( Gerber, 1964: 63 ) , she dreams of new conquerings which doubtless will or must convey her joy. Yet she accepts for the first clip that felicity may non be for her, that possibly her destiny is “ everlastingly to be the chase of that glow of delectation which tints the distant brow of the universe ” ( 369 ) . Dreiser creates a existence where life takes on the facet of “ a fierce, inexorable battle in which no one-fourth was either given or taken, and in which are laid traps, lied, squandered, erred, through semblance ” . ( Dreiser, 1991: 82 ) And even the subsisters of the battle to go a male monarch, are left without a trophy.

The symbolic action of rocking is most fitting: Carrie is at one time discontent, physically uneasy, moderately energetic, and passively waiting for better luck to come and happen her. At the terminal of the novel, Carrie is still swaying. Her homes are different now and better by material standards-she is now in a exuberant New York hotel-but the action is the same and is symbolic of everlasting discontent. ( Gale, 1968: 88 ) Carrie has reached in her quest the empty terminus, which Dreiser points out, so many Americans reach particularly those who ascend from low beginnings and are deceived by the life around them into believing the money ideal to be all in all. ( Gerber, 1964: 63 )

Dreiser ‘s symbolism reveals the separate and distinguishable universes of Sister Carrie. There is the realistic universe of the “ sensible ” head in the imagined universe of the “ emotional ” universe, a universe described in the novel as: “ Elf-land ” , “ Dream Land ” , or “ Kingdom of Greatness ” . This is the universe from which Hurstwood emerges as an “ embassador ” to convey Carrie back with him. It is this universe from which Carrie ironically becomes a citizen – ironically because it ne’er seems to give the wagess and beauty it promises. Life is a changeless conflict fought between the elephantine ground forcess of defeat and desire.

Dream symbolism provides a method of uncovering what the universe outside thinks of Carrie ‘s behavior. Minnie, Carrie ‘s sister, maps in the novel as a choric figure. In her dream, the standard opinion of Carrie ‘s actions is revealed. Carrie leaves the universe of her sister to travel to a dark and unsafe universe below the surface of the land. The twirling Waterss and profound darkness of that universe without a stiff morality seem certain to destruct the naA?ve miss. It is no more necessary to accept Carrie ‘s estimation of her sister Minnie as absolute and indifferent truth. Each miss unconsciously sees the other as a projection of herself, and therefore interprets the life of the other as it would look to herself.

Apparels and Appearance

The finest vesture made is a individual ‘s tegument, but, of class, society demands something more than this.A ~Mark Twain? ? ( forty-nine Las sau forty-nine elimin platinum ca doar acest subcapitol vitamin E introdus de un citat? )

The most obvious and well-known repeating symbol in Sister Carrie is that of clothes- apparels as an index of gustatory sensation and societal place and for Carrie of a naA?ve but traveling desire for a all right and pleasing life. ( Pizer, 1976: 92 ) One can admit the fact that visual aspect, while non including value and ethical motives, as should be of more importance, defines oneself and assist them set up a topographic point within the societal system. Sister Carrie serves as an outstanding theoretical account to portray this thought. To the bulk of the characters, how they appear and act hides the world of which they live. Dreiser carefully lists in precise item everything Carrie owns: “ a inexpensive imitation alligator-skin satchel, [ aˆ¦ ] , a xanthous leather catch bag, [ aˆ¦ ] and four dollars ” ( 1 ) . Since Carrie does hold adequate money to pay for a existent alligator-skin satchel, she holds a sham with the purpose that she appears to be something else than she is. False visual aspects are a ruling subject throughout Sister Carrie.

Because so small is revealed about Carrie ‘s individuality, the first feeling left by her is formed non by what she does or by what she sentiments but by her properties. Dreiser ends the description of her with the precise sum of money she holds. This emphasis on money will be a major subject all through the remainder of the novel. A

To Carrie, the feeling of completeness comes merely when frocks excellently. On her first twenty-four hours at work, she feels ashamed with her female colleagues. After go forthing her vague work station, she proceeds to the anteroom where she encounters other immature adult females. As she walks past, “ She felt ashamed in the face of better dressed misss who went by. She felt as though she should be better served and her bosom revolted. “ ( 31 ) Being of in-between category stature, she thinks degraded and believes she can acquire no regard or attending from these, “ aˆ¦ better dressed misss. “ ( 31 ) Though she is highly attractive in her lesser province, as proven by the immature work forces who flirt with her, she feels merely compunction because she was non lavishly displayed.

Carrie ‘s first come across with mass manner comes with her visit to the Fair, a Chicago section shop. In this episode she is non shopping or more suitably, holding no money she is merely “ window shopping ” . ( Geyh, 2006: web ) A Carrie ‘s call to the section shop prove her involvement in conspicuous ingestion ; “ it had developed a new and oddly adumbrate relationship between buyer and consumer goods ” . ( Eby, 2001: web ) As she observes the attention-getting goods available for sale, Carrie “ could non assist experiencing the claim of each bangle and valuable upon her personally [ . . . . ] The delicacy slippers and stockings, the finely frilly skirts and petticoats. [ . . . ] all touched her with single desire ” ( 22 ) . But the enticement that garb and other personal ownerships have for Dreiser ‘s protagonists-that he calls “ the voice of the alleged inanimate! ” ( 98 ) -lets us to detect that memorable alteration. Every one of of the fancy points tempts Carrie although she can non afford to pay for any of them ; “ therefore a capitalist economic system manipulates the desire of the consumer without of all time wholly fulfilling it ” ( Eby, 2001: web ) . Carrie realizes how far removed she is from its glamor and attractive force. Although she desires for herself the frilly dresses, the jewelry and bangles heaped upon the counters, she keenly feels how none of these are in the scope of her purchase. “ An castaway without employment ” ( 17 ) , a mere job-seeker, even the shop-girls could see she was hapless and in demand of a paying occupation.

The desired points of vesture put on show in the section shops, eating houses, hotels and streets, are for Carrie, affair of both witting and unconscious desire, but the desire is unrelated to any organic, biological “ demand ” . The apparels are functional chiefly as indexs of what Carrie might possess and be, of this desire, but besides indexs of she is non, of “ her category edge position as a girl of working-class parents ” , and of all that exceeds her appreciation. ( qtd. in Geyh, 2006: web )

The importance of apparels in Sister Carrie arises from the pick that one can exert over them “ as a conspicuous public presentation of prospective being. ” Drouet seduces Carrie purchasing her the apparels that would be the appropriate costume merely for the function of kept woman. The apparels “ are 1s that she could non even explicate allow entirely wear were she to remain in her function of working miss at her sister ‘s level ” .. Similarly, Carrie ‘s first moving occupation in New York translate into a self-contradictory ability to purchase the apparels for the function of a immature actress. ( Fisher, 1991: 554 ) ( se intelege ca citatele sunt ale lui Fisher? )

While Carrie is the chief character whose being thrives on the dependance on her expressions, she is non the lone 1 who Dreiser chooses to do a victim of visual aspect. At Carrie ‘s first meeting with Drouet on the train from Colombia City to Chicago his vesture and behavior “ built up for her a subdued universe of luck, of which he was the Centre ” ( 6 ) The immature adult male whose appeal and audaciousness caught Carrie ‘s attending on the train besides suffers from the value he places on visual aspect. While expressing her first words in their first sparked conversation, she notices his, “ Flush, colorful cheeks, a light mustache, a grey felt hat chapeau. ” ( 3 ) She farther observes him detecting every light item of his suit and the jewelry. “ His suit was of a striped and cross form brown wool, [ aˆ¦ ] the low fork of the waistcoat revealed a stiff bosom of white and pink chevrons. [ aˆ¦ ] his fingers bore several ringsaˆ¦ ” ( 3 ) From this quotation mark, one can come to the decision that Drouet is a instead affluent adult male with many refined gustatory sensations. In world, “ He was non a monied adult male. ” ( 32 ) When in the presence of those who were fortunate, “ aˆ¦ he straightened himself a little more stiffly and chows with solid comfort. ” ( 32 ) This defines his societal position since he is good known among the comfortable. Carrie shortly realized all the metropolis had to offer her, such as “ wealth, manner, eases every adornment for adult females, and she longed for frock and beauty with a whole bosom ” ( 21 ) . A Carrie is aroused by “ something promising in the full stuff chance ” that Drouet had to offer ( 5 ) . While her background does subconsciously admonish her momently, she ignores her scruples in exchange for the felicity that Drouet ‘s success might convey her. While Drouet did work, he wants to conceal his world. His false preens dazzles many, including Carrie. Equally shortly as Carrie sees that Drouet is non every bit good off as she originally perceived him to be, she turns to another adult male, another adult male who, like Drouet, was dissembling his ain world behind his temptingness of money and place.

Mr. G. W. Hurstwood is the 2nd gentleman to catch Carrie ‘s illusion. He is the director of a celebrated eating house and is known as a successful adult male about town. Many see him as a solid adult male of good physical stature, instead immature, and is known for his, “ all right apparels, his clean linen, his gems, and, above all, his ain sense of his importance. ” ( 33 ) On the surface, Hurstwood is a adult male of power. He holds a valued sentiment among many and some sort of consequence on many more, Drouet and Carrie included. With all of the entreaty, there is no possible manner for anyone to see Hurstwood ‘s personal life. No intimation of the slightest incompatibility of the glamor can be found. Peoples of societal royalty know and see his household on many popular societal excursions. His married woman is a smoothie as good and many have high hopes for their immature girl. One would non gestate that Hurstwood and his married woman were holding heated statements taking to matrimonial jobs. Due to the fact that many knew the household and how flush in all facets they are, most unmarked Hurstwood ‘s careers on Carrie. Appearance, which led to this adult male ‘s societal position, kept people from sing this. Looks and appeal is the lone thing that kept this adult male from intuition.

Subsequently in the narrative when Hurstwood societal position diminutions, apparels and implicitly appearance reflect this clip the world. Gradually running out of money Hurstwood is non preoccupied with his visual aspect, he one time strictly guarded. Still, for the interest of old times, he tries to convey to illume the old ego. This fact accent Hurstwood ‘s desire to maintain visual aspects even though his societal position was non the same. As Hurstwood experiences life as hapless person he begins to see the life of his affluent yesteryear as “ aˆ¦a metropolis with a wall about it ” ( 328 ) on the other side Hurstwood ‘s shabby apparels expose his province, the opposite but every bit conspicuous equivalent to the show of province, that is the normal map of apparels. ( Fisher, 1991: 554 )

In contrast to Carrie ‘s new vesture which makes her portion of her new universe, Hurstwood ‘s vesture is now banal portion and worn. It is non sufficiently warm for him to endure in the cold winter. Clothing reveals the complete inversion of the aˆzmarriage ” of Carrie and Hurstwood. As Hurstowood ‘s preoccupation for the deficiency of money additions he tells Carrie that they do non afford to purchase her any new apparels, “ she had non failed to detect that he did non look to confer with her about purchasing apparels for himself. ” ( 340 ) A few short old ages ago he was fighting breadwinner who on occasion indulged himself in new vesture to run into the universe, while Carrie remained place, running the family in her outdates attire.

In Sister Carrie: An Introduction, written by Kenneth S. Lynn, the writer summarizes Carrie ‘s reaching in Chicago. He so proceeds to state that she is, “ depending entirely on personal entreaty to enable her to work out her redemption. ” He goes on to knock Drouet and Hurstwood every bit good. “ Drouet has no world ; take away the salesman ‘s apparels, and he has nil. ” ( qtd. in Pizer, 1976: 40 ) This quotation mark aimed to depict Drouet, shows that though his brassy apparels are a hallmark of his, he truly comes down to nil. Hurstwood is in the same state of affairs and as Dreiser says after a passer-by inquires if he is a automobilist, he eventually realizes that he is nil. Carrie is taught manners and how to go a lady.

Because apparels can be changed more quickly than flats they become a more sensitive index to alterations of province. Apparels are one ‘s reference. Merely hotels are “ topographic points of populating sensitive plenty to the fluctuations of ego to be vesture as public presentations of the pecuniary status of the ego. ” In New York after they separate, both Carrie and Hurstwood, move through “ opposite terminals of the spectrum of records ” the demand of a society in which money will be kept in the stock market so that its hesitations of value can be represented in the day-to-day newspaper instead in land or goods which are, by comparing, capable merely to year-long or decade-long readings of alteration of worth. As the swaying chair is to fortune ‘s wheel, 2nd by 2nd rises and falls, so excessively are apparels, hotels, and newspapers to the long-run indexes of luck and value. ( Fisher, 1991: 554 )

Every characteristic of these characters is a show put on show like that of a theatrical drama. None have a existent personality because it has been erased by the teasing enticement of being that name on the front page, or the cause of a stillness fallen over a room as they enter. They even manipulate simple characteristics to lead on their prey audience. Equally far as personalities being deciphered, as mentioned earlier, these three critical characters have no existent personalities. They display the best good thought out personality that the state of affairs demands. When they are in the company of a affluent helper, the room and scene is filled with merriment on their slicked surface, but they loathe for the life.

Each of these three characters uses their visual aspect to obtain material goods and respectable societal standings. They all achieve this, yet in the terminal, they wind up in bare isolation. Had these characters accepted their lives as they would hold came to be, and non used fraudulence to victimize the ignorantness, possibly they would n’t hold ended up in a lesser province so they stood at originally.


In this novel, together with mirrors and apparels, money represents societal position. Dreiser chose to pull a realistic portraiture of America for what it truly was- materialistic ( Gerber, 1964: 52 ) . Life is presented in relation to this driving force and seems to undergo all fates, affecting everyone, as participants in the mad-cycle of the flourishing economic system. “ The money ideal would be exposed as the great actuating intent of life in the United States: one ‘s comparative richness at any degree of society finding the degree animal comfort one might bask, the step of prestigiousness one might have, and the extent of societal power one might command ” ( Gerber,1964: 52-53 ) . Sister Carrie wholly reaffirms America ‘s passion with money because all characters ‘ position symbol is determined economically.

Dreiser ‘s characters are frequently fascinated with the physical world of money ( Pizer, 1976: 91 ) ; “ the money she has accepted was two, soft, green, fine-looking ten-dollar measures ” ( 39 ) . The physical transportation of money is an act which promises so much for both “ the organic structure and the spirit that it either entails or suggests the sexual ” ( Pizer, 1976: 91 )

Carrie ‘s destitute state of affairs incites echt commiseration, but Drouet offers her money holding hidden desires and purposes. This allows him to touch her manus, the first act in set uping physical contact with her. The seemingly harmless offer of lending money to Carrie and the pleasant tiffin are a first measure into obtaining it. Giving her the money somehow permits him to experience her manus, the first move in making physical familiarity with her. In world, he is merchandising the juncture for sex. ( Pizer,1976: 92 ) The tiffin and the loan are merely the first measure in acquiring it. As she feels the 20 dollars in her manus, Carrie fells that a she was connected to him by a “ unusual tie of affection. ” ( 47 ) . Having money as a chief arm, Drouet has obtained the right to get down physical intimacy with Carrie.

Several times in the novel, including in this minute, an exact dollar amount is named. “ Carrie lives in a universe of monetary values ” regardless of whether she is at work, out shopping, at place or on the street. Her labour worth is set to four dollars and 50 cents per hebdomad ; adjustment costs four dollars per hebdomad ; auto menu amounts 60 cents per hebdomad ; an economical tiffin is 10 cents ; etc. By accepting Drouet ‘s money, Carrie unconscientiously establishes her worth to him at precisely twenty dollars. Carrie ‘s desire maintain secret her purposes from Minnie and Hanson confirms that she is at least partially alert that she is selling herself. ( Ward, 2000: web )

Carrie symbolizes the corporate values of the burgeoning American consumer civilization. To her, money represents power ; one might easy judge her and include her in the money-hunters class of people ; those that would be happy to be trapped on a desert island if merely she had a big sum of money. ( Ward, 2000: web ) She had non acknowledged the fact that money and nil else is deserving nil. Merely in relation to consumer goods does it stand for anything of value.

Chapter seven begins with one of Dreiser ‘s frequent treatments on the significance of money. “ The true significance of money yet remains to be popularly explained and comprehended ” ( 47 ) . What Carrie does non understand, a mistake she has in common with about all of humanity, is that money should be paid out as “ candidly stored energy ” ( 48 ) non as a “ usurped privilege ” ( 48 ) . Carrie ‘ definition of money would be simple and straightforward- “ something everybody else has and I must acquire ” ( 48 ) . Dreiser so continues to give a singular account of money. Essential in his observation is that if an person has money, it must be spent in order to acknowledge its value. Carrie every bit good as Drouet belong to this class. If non earned candidly money in this novel are obtained by larceny or begging. Money serves as a mode of word picture, accordingly everyone in the novel is dependent on money to depict who they are and what they do.

In the game played at the first meeting of Carrie and Hurstwood, Dreiser provides a illumination theoretical account of the characters, forces, and motion of the novel doing symbolic usage of the ordinary inside informations. In this game of opportunity and skill Hurstwood manipulates his manus so that Carrie can win all the money while Drouet remains nescient of what is go oning. “ Do n’t you moralise ” Hurstwood says to Carrie, “ until you see what becomes of the money ” ( 74 ) . This transition is like a vision from future, unconscious words evocative of what was to come.

Social position is changed with money, at the same clip offering those who get it the possibility to admit the supreme wealth or the supreme lowering of position. For illustration, in the really beginning of the novel, Carrie rides in a train, the manner hapless people do so in a street auto, as the stylish misss of the clip and eventually she is forced to walk, forced to return to her initial position. This completes a concatenation that marks the gradual lowering of Carrie ‘s position in the society until she reaches the lowest point, the point where she non merely has no occupation but is besides forced to walk around the metropolis. Being Drouet ‘s company in the eating house Carrie is cognizant of the diminution. She observes that he affords to go by train and she instantly associates agencies of conveyance with wealth. Lost between ideas she hears him adverting that she has to return place if she does non accept his offer, but she does non admit the significance of this fact. She merely sees a phase manager passing by. This serves as a ocular reminder that a affluent life can be lived merely in a large metropolis like Chicago, and is important to doing her accept Drouet ‘s proposal. Her pick gives her a sense of good being, dragging her out from her province of dreamer, and, by the stoping of the chapter, she is already siting the auto from her vision. After Hurstwood and Carrie ‘s matter and flight to New York, Hurstwood shortly finds himself holding to believe carefully about little expenses like rent and cab menu. Although he has sufficient money to put in new concerns, he turns down many chances because they are excessively lower-class for him. Not merely is his money really of import to him now, but so is his reputability. Having to populate so frugally as he searches for a occupation humiliates him ( Balling, 1967: 61 ) . The importance of Hurstwood ‘s repute to himself underscores the philistinism in America. Bing who you are to yourself is non every bit of import as being person to others ( Gerber, 1964: 60-61 ) . Hurstwood ‘s diminution pushes Carrie farther off from him. Mrs. Vance ‘s determination to cut off her connexion with Carrie because of Hurstwood ‘s visual aspect exposes the “ dehumanizing nature of consumer society ” ( Ward, 2000: web ) . While Hurstwood bit by bit sinks toward want and self-destruction, Carrie one time once more moves foreword and appears on phase. Carrie ‘s “ changeless retarding force to something better was non to be denied ” ( Thorp, 1963: 472 ) . Her pick to go forth him is about wholly motivated by fundss, as was her determination to get married him.

Mirrors – contemplations of the ego

Mirrors should believe longer before they reflect.A ~Jean Cocteau? ?

Another of import symbol is the mirror in which Carrie attempts to see indoors herself to detect the truth or to reflect upon some job. Like the swaying chair, the mirror represents the two poles of Carrie ‘s idea, for it is besides used by her merely to look up to her visual aspect in new apparels. Both the rocking chair and the mirror fuse the desire for material satisfaction with the realization that Carrie is ne’er happy if she continually desires something new. Naturally, Carrie is ne’er witting of the symbolic import of these articles, but surely the writer is, and so, it is hoped, is the reader.

Mirrors-both factual and the metaphorical mirrors of others ‘ reaction to her-contribute to this building of individuality as Carrie glimpses the ideal as reflected in them. “ The Mirror ” as the storyteller notices “ convinced her of a thing which she had long believed. She was reasonably, yes, so ” . ( 58 ) The procedure of mirroring through which Carrie creates her individuality is, nevertheless non simply a affair of frock: “ it is bound with her natural acting ability ” . ( qtd. in Geyh, 2006: web ) Able to “ comprehend the nature of those small latest ways which adult females adopt when they would assume to be something ” , Carrie mimics, mirrors, the gestures of those whom she admires: “ she looked in the mirror and pursed her lips, attach toing it with a small flip of the caput, as she had seen the railway hoarded wealth ‘s girl doaˆ¦She became a miss of considerable gustatory sensation. ” ( 78-79 )

The urban environment itself offers legion sites of such indemnificatory mirroring, “ from half-lit show Windowss of section shops in which 1 might see one ‘s ain ghostly contemplation ” , to posh eating houses like Sherry ‘s where “ the floor was of a ruddy chromaticity, waxed and polished, and in every way were mirrors-tall, superb, bevel-edged mirrors-reflecting and re-reflecting signifiers, faces, and candelabra a mark and hundred times ” ( 235 ) ( Gyeh, 2006: web )

Looking in the mirror is frequently considered a signifier of self-love. This is peculiarly apparent in the shop episode when Carrie looks at herself with the new apparels on. Her sense of wellbeing is enhanced, to the point where she starts to experience “ a warm freshness ” ( 70 ) weirdo into her cheeks. This is once more shown up in chapter eight, when she realizes that she is beautiful after looking in a mirror. The two antithetical potions of Carrie ‘s head, her scruples and desire, do another visual aspect in chapter 10.

There, standing before the mirror, she sees that her face reveals a more attractive miss than she was earlier but her head, “ a mirror prepared of her ain and the universe ‘s sentiments ” ( 70 ) , reveals a “ worse ” animal than she had been earlier. She wavers between these two images, uncertain of which one to believe.

The “ interior ” mirror, the reservoir of societal and acquired moral option, must be watched nearer by the reader. Sister Carrie is a survey in deepness of the character ; what happens inside Carrie ‘s head is really far more of import than her outward luck of tests and ordeal.

Carrie ‘s troubles, more basic in the recent yesteryear, have now become mental 1s, “ and wholly so turned about in all of her earthly relationships that she might good hold been a new and different person ” ( 70 ) . In the mirror she sees a pretty face, but when she looks within herself she sees an image composed of her ain opinions and those of society that makes her see a certain moral squeamishness. Carrie wavers between these two contemplations, inquiring which one to encompass. Her scruples, “ merely an mean small scruples ” ( 73 ) , is shaped by the universe, her ain past life, wont, and convention, all welded together in a baffled manner. Her scruples fusss her because she failed to populate with moral rightness even before she tried. Carrie is in a “ winter ” temper, full of soundless incubation. Nevertheless the secret of her scruples grows more and more lame.

Before, the mirror merely was an indicant of amour propre and represented the ability to copy things. Now Dreiser comments that the mirror is the symbol of a good actress every bit good, a “ good actress serves as her ain mirror to her audience ” ( Gyeth, 2006: web ) . Carrie ‘s career and power as an actress find their fullest look on phase, where she creates non merely a series of idealised versions of herself, but besides an array of illumination mise-en-scene- shadow plays-of the metropolis and its dwellers outside. ( Geyh, 2006: web ) “ Carrie was possessed of that sympathetic, waxy nature which, of all time in the most developed signifier, has been the glorification of the play. She was created with the passiveness of psyche which is ever the mirror of the active universe ” , the storyteller observes. ( 117 ) Carrie ‘s greatest ability is that she can mirror back to people that they want to see.


The frequent symbol in this novel is the employment of newspapers to denominate people who are no longer capable to see the hereafter, people that are suppressed by the past and sometimes by the present. The newspaper represents old intelligence as it presents things that have already happened. Persons who fall back on the newspaper therefore fall into the category of have-beens, of those who already lived their life and experienced the universe.

The first who reads the newspaper in the novel is Sven Hanson followed by Hurstwood. The two are reading the newspaper in the eventide as a signifier of amusement and because it is the lone manner they could happen out about their ain universe. Hurstwood is scrolling the paper for the first clip in chapter 20. The paper symbolizes the yesteryear, and the incapacity to lift in the hereafter. Therefore, his married woman is already doing the determination refering the hereafter of the household, and the future holiday. In this scene between Hurstwood and Julia, the first finds in the newspaper a safety from his married woman ‘s demands and from what his full household represented to him. This manner he tries to avoid domestic wrangles and make-believes to read the newspaper. By contrast Carrie, reads the paper to see if she is written about in one of its articles. The newspaper additions more importance and is more frequently used by Hurstwood than of all time before. “ Each twenty-four hours he could read in the eventide paperaˆ¦ ” ( 143 ) . Later Dreiser describes Hurstwood as passing his clip reading newspapers, as the lone gratifying activity left. This once more suggests that Hurstwood can merely populate by looking at the yesteryear instead than into the hereafter.

The significance of newspapers reaches the pinnacle in chapter 30 five during the storm. Hurstwood is wholly ruined as a adult male that he uses the paper even for fiddling intelligence such as the conditions, intelligence he otherwise found out from his barroom. He reads about how the storm is nearing, how it has arrived, and how it has cleared up. This outlines the self privacy from the outside universe ; his life has gotten so bad that he can non even look out the Windowss any more.

The newspaper symbolism reaches its pinnacle in chapter 40 three. Carrie is now in the paper, being written approximately, as she ever dreamed, in the mode all the celebrated people are, while Hurstwood simply reads about her. “ The portion of Kiesha, the state maid, in The Wifes of Abdul on Broadway, so far played by Inez Carew, will be hereinafter filled by Carrie Madedna, one of the cleverest members of the chorus. ” ( 323 ) . This is the unequivocal difference between the future-oriented young person and the loath looking aged.

The theater

There is the of import symbolic function of the theater as an “ ascending signifier of semblance ” for Carrie from the sea of life to a beginning of stuff wealth and hence “ felicity to the highest sort of semblance ” ( Pizer, 1976: 92 ) . Dreiser comments that the theater represents what Carrie longs for. The theater is the chief signifier of amusement and it is besides traveling to be Carrie ‘s prospect calling. Hence each visit to the theater offers a alone stepping rock on her way to going an actress. In chapter nine, the reference of theaters is non merely done in a positive sense, but besides in a negative sense. Theatres serve as topographic points of seduction throughout the novel ; it is a seduction of the senses every bit good as a actual seduction. Carrie ‘s hunt for a portion in the theater is evocative of her earlier hunt for a occupation. The universe of the theater is possibly more hostile because the work forces she speaks to, take autonomies with her that the shop-men do non make bold ; to the shop-men she was a trade good, to the directors she is a plaything or a beginning of low amusement. ( Balling, 1967: 35 )

In her brief gustatory sensation of theatrical life, Carrie finds a certain manner of mounting into the universe of her imaginativeness. Carrie is ne’er so introverted as to ask why an “ An Hour in Elf Land ” ( 131 ) holds such great entreaty for her. Nevertheless, in her public presentation it is impossible to disregard the great alterations that have come over the immature miss who climbed on the train from Columbia City.

Insides and homes

“ Sister Carrie resembles a drama more than a movie, we visualize Chicago and New York chiefly as a series of insides ” ( Pizer, 1976: 92 ) . Throughout Sister Carrie, topographic points and particularly insides are the scene for the narrative and are frequent symbols of the interior province of the characters. The callings of the chief figures can be charted on a graph of the assorted homes between the Hanson ‘s modest level and a epicurean Waldorf flat and between Fitzgerald and Moy ‘s well- appointed saloon and a 15 pence a dark dosshouse cell. ( Pizer, 1976: 91 )

In an attempt to go forth a well-documented record of a clip that has passed, Dreiser departs from the narrative line that inferior working conditions were even when compared with those of twenty old ages subsequently. Carrie and the other perform the same arduous undertaking all twenty-four hours without benefit of a alteration in modus operandi or a brief remainder. The hours are long, the mill is without airing. No attempt is made for the employees ‘ comfort, in the belief that difficult conditions are advantageous. The smothering atmosphere reflects Carrie ‘s feelings of being trapped in a universe that is non for her, a universe of monolithic industrialization that merely exploits her. Nor does Dreiser overlook the symbolic import of the assembly line and the workhouse. Work in a mill is really similar to the expansive graduated table of life as he saw it. Each single becomes a cog in a wheel ; each is a bundle of energy. ( Pizer, 1976: 92 )

The symbolism of the flats comes frontward every clip Carrie begins another phase of her life. Early in the novel, when geting to Chicago, Carrie was to get down another phase of her life. She left her male parents ‘ house to populate with her sister in the metropolis. When making her sister ‘s flat Carrie non outputs to detect that is little, even excessively little for visitants and ill furnished. The whole working day ambiance of the level contrasts with the bustle activity of the metropolis itself and with Carrie ‘s outlooks. The level might be a symbol for Carrie ‘s state of affairs at that minute, merely another in the large metropolis of Chicago.

By contrast, towards the terminal of the fresh Carrie is offered adjustment in one of the most expensive and celebrated hotels of the clip. Carrie ‘s success as an actress endeavours her with a feasible signifier of promotion. By suggesting Carrie a lower hebdomadal charge, the representative of the hotel is invests in a peculiar sort of advert. ( Ward, 2000: web ) The hotel is taking at Carrie ‘s consumer desires bring oning the consumer desires of the others. The contrast between Minnie ‘s level and this epicurean flat is apparent but does non needfully fulfill Carrie ‘s desires and does non do her happy.

Along Carrie ‘s way toward success she comes to be represented by the topographic points she lives in. At the get downing life with Minnie ‘s household she has a corner of her ain in a little level. At this point she dreams of holding a better life and a topographic point to work.

Upon run intoing Drouet she lives in a “ comfortably plenty furnished ” ( 69 ) flat which offers her stableness and in which she feels “ free of certain troubles which most ominously confronted her ” ( 69 ) . This topographic point can be associated with another measure Carrie takes towards the top of society and success. She has a better life in this topographic point and she feels it as her place. Still she leaves it excessively for another, when get awaying with Hurstwood. Carrie “ had ne’er seen such a small level as her ” ( 220 ) but “ for the first clip in her life she felt settled, and slightly justified in the eyes of society ” ( 220 ) . This seems to be the best minutes of her life, she feels accomplished and happy because this adjustment offers her security. The modus operandi of the level shortly bore her and she elopes from it happening a occupation in the theatre universe. She bit by bit spends most of her clip out or working. The family is non she wants, she hopes for something better. That is why she moves with Lola Osbourne and even though they portion a room at least she pays less for it. Carrie has ever dreamt of a topographic point of her ain and she now had it. The cost of life was non high and was precisely what a immature actress needed. As she becomes celebrated, her position is reflected by the hotel suites she is offered. She lives in luxury now but even so non wholly happy.

In pursue of her dream Carrie passes through legion homes as they suggest her province and aspirations in different minutes. Sometimes she feels suffocated by her place, sometimes it permeates her to woolgather or sometimes it offers her a sense of equilibrium. Small or epicurean, furnished or non all of these topographic points offer her something she needs at all minutes: the possibility to sway in a chair by the window contemplating her life and the unexpected bend it takes.

Many a times Dreiser remarks upon the mode in which societal position is achieved and maintained. Drouet dines often at Rector ‘s because it is a resort for histrions and professional work forces and therefore it inflates his amour propre and stirs his aspiration. For the same ground he seeks the amenitiess of Fitzgerald and Moy ‘s barroom, which Dreiser describes in his awkward manner as a “ genuinely bang-up barroom ” . ( 33 )

Dreiser embarks on a treatment of the establishment of the work forces ‘s barroom. Visitors at that place seek pleasance every bit good as the satisfaction of reflecting among their betters. In a society which equates wealth with single worth, the worst such an establishment would make is stir up aspiration of the materialist, such as Drouet, so that he excessively could carry on his life on a glorious footing. ( Balling, 1964: 31 )

By deduction Dreiser says that to a fledgling this barroom must look “ a unusual and glistening thing ” ( 36 ) . Then with a step of sarcasm he adds, “ what a lamp-flower is must blossom ; a strange, glistening night-flower, odor-yielding, insect-drawing, insect-infested rose of pleasance ” ( 36 ) therefore by contrasting what such a topographic point seems to its regular frequenters with what it would look to an foreigner, Dreiser as storyteller invites the reader to see the aimlessly roving, dressy, greedy, company as non awfully different from Carrie herself, merely luckier and wealthier. Dreiser uses the moth image to qualify the barroom that Hurstwood manages: “ Here come the moths in eternal emanation to enjoy in the visible radiation of the fire ” ( 46 ) the barroom denotes the power of attractive force the metropolis has over its dwellers, and the promise of enjoyment a eating house can convey in passers by. ( Smith, 2010: web )

The sarcasm of destiny leads Hurstwood from one charity line to another. He frequently thinks of self-destruction but normally does non hold the 15 cents required for a cell with a gas jet. While Hurstwood descents to the province where he has to worry about undistinguished amounts, Carrie enjoys gathers income, larger than of all time before. Hurstwood ‘s province of corruption is besides reflected by the loss of a lasting place and his day-to-day battle to happen a topographic point to kip. The inexpensive hotels and the charity places are the contrary of what Hurstwood one time enjoyed. Homeless chap, he depends on the passerby. Bing one of the mendicants from the captain ‘s row of doomed persons, Hurstwood participates in a spectacle anticipating another type of payment. Like Carrie, he is besides an histrion of destiny, playing a role-but his “ pay ” is far lower. ( Ward, 2000: web )

“ Dreiser ‘s images and symbols resemble his auctorial voices in that they vary from those that are imposed on the character to those which arise implicitly out of the narrative. The luxuriant pattering of symbols through repeat and cross-index is a agency of complementing and reenforcing the chief subjects of the novel. ( Pizer, 1976: 94 ) As the critic Donald Pizer notices, Dreiser ‘s symbolism is charged with dual expressive significance reflecting both the key constructs that represent the characters and at the same clip intimations at facets that are drawn from the narrative itself.

Dreiser ‘s manner is, however, of import to the entirety of his work. It is as valid a portion of his art as his creative activity of characters and choice of item. Detailss and particularly symbols play a decisive function in foregrounding the subject of the novel boding the class of the events and at the same clip provokes the reader to make a narrative line of his ain which might non needfully be the aimed one.


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