In what ways is the theme of social class and wealth as a better form of life shown in the novel An American Tragedy?  

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not entirely sure that Dreisler's work concludes that social class and wealth reveal a better life.  I think that Dreisler argues that the American Dream is not in complete existence, in that individuals are guided by class and desire for wealth.  These ends compel them to embrace aspects of their own consciousness that is not entirely desirable nor morally acceptable.  Clyde, for example, is victimized by class driven "haves and have notes" in that he becomes a participant in murder in order to achieve such ends.  In this light, Dreisler is not really suggesting that class and wealth is a better form of life, but rather that is is an illusion that compels people to do things that they would not nor should not do.  While suffering a far worse fate, Roberta seeks to marry someone of better social class and status and ends up dying as a result.  In the end, class and wealth are elements that drive individuals to pursue an end that proves to be disastrous, and far from a better life.

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An American Tragedy

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