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Things are not always as they seem. For instance, take Thomas Hardy's Tess of the dUrbervilles: A Pure Woman, Stephen Cranes Maggie: Girl of the Streets, and Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. At the surface they appear to be quite different. Tess written in 1871 by a British man by the name of Hardy, Maggie written by an American in 1893, and Carrie being written by an American in 1900. All disparate. Or are they?
Hardy, Crane, and Dreiser's writings share an important relationship, the heroine. The striking Tess, the ragged Maggie, and the naive Carrie are dynamic women crafted by these great men. Although disparate, Tess, Maggie, and Carrie are almost identical in nature. For example, Hardy's Tess is a quite "fine and handsome girl" (Hardy 12). Tess beauty differs from that of the other girls in her town.
Her "peony mouth and large innocent eyes add eloquence" to her beauty. Tess is the only young woman in the town who can "boast" such "pronounced adornment" as a red ribbon in her hair. As the novel begins Tess appears as a "vessel of emotion untinctured by experience" (14). She is the mere age of seventeen. Naive to the happenings around her, the reader gains the sense that Tess is simply as Hardy portrays her, innocent with "her twelfth year in her cheeks" her "ninth sparkle (ing) from her eyes" and her fifth year noticeable in her mouth. An image is painted of a young woman, with a young womans body, a childs face, and at times a childs mind.
Tess possesses a flaw, her naivety, and perhaps even her beauty. In addition, Stephen Cranes heroine Maggie grows in his novella, yet maintains one thing, her gorgeousness. The beginning of the novella portrays Maggie as nothing more than a "small ragged girl" (Crane 6). Later in the novella Crane depicts Maggie as a young woman who has "blossomed in a mud puddle. " Maggie, now the age of sixteen, is a "most rare and wonderful production of a tenement district, a pretty girl" (16).
Cranes Maggie has grown out of abuse. To the readers surprise she, like Hardy's Tess, is beautiful. Maggie is a rose blooming in a land of ashes. Attractiveness, however, also proves to be Maggie's flaw.
Maggie's good looks take her no where in the end of the novella. She becomes a "girl of the painted cohorts of the city" (54), a girl of the streets. Furthermore, Dreiser's heroine Caroline Member represents the typical young woman of her time. At eighteen, Carry is the oldest of the three heroines. Dreiser's Carry at the novels start is "timid"bright" and "full off the illusions of ignorance and youth" (Dreiser 1). Carrie, much like the character of Tess, is truly naive.
A reader takes notice of this when Carrie arrives in Chicago to live with her sister. Dreiser portrays Carrie as materialistic. She desires the finer things in life and even as she progresses in the novel nothing is ever good enough for Carrie. She values clothes, jewelry, fancy houses, and the people who posses these things. In Carries eyes, money is the answer.
This further proves her naivety. Also, Carrie imitates and is a natural role player, which explains her fascination with theatre in the novel. Unlike Tess and Maggie, Carrie uses her beauty as an advantage and tool to move her up in the social world. A reader may not consider Tess, Maggie, and Carrie heroines, but rather tragic heroines.
What makes these three writings come to life is the interaction with static characters. Even though these characters stay the same throughout the writings, they help the stories flow. For example, in Tess of the d'Urbervilles the main character Tess becomes involved with the static character Alec. Tess first meets Alec as she goes in search of a living relative. Alec however, is not really a d'Urberville. Alec's father Simon Stokes took the name after he built his mansion and retired.
Tess finds herself attracted to Alec's swarthy complexion and full lips, he is merely four-and-twenty (Hardy 45). Tess rosy lips can not help but curve towards a smile, much to the attraction of the swarthy Alexander (46). It is easy for Alec to manipulate the naive Tess. Hardy's scene with Alec cutting the new roses and strawberries symbolizes that he tears apart anything pure and chaste.
Tess eating in a half-pleased, half-reluctant state (48) the strawberries which Alec cut foreshadows the downfall of Tess Alec causes. The evil and trickery in Alec can be seen as he bribes Tess to get his way. By giving Tess father a new cob and her siblings some new toys he expects Tess to love him for at least ever so little (90). Alec now has Tess in the palm of his hand and thus forces himself on her.
Due to these actions Tess leaves the dUrberville mansion with child. As Tess suffers the pain of bearing a child then losing it Alec is no where around. This further illustrates his wickedness. Further along in the novel Tess once again encounters Alec. Once again he uses Tess family as a pawn in his game. He helps them out of poverty after Tess fathers death.
As a result Tess feels in debt to Alec and succumbs to his ways. Alec in the end reaches his demise as he is murdered at the hands of his victim, Tess. In addition, the static character Pete in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets contributes to the novella as well as to Maggie's downfall. Maggie meets Pete through her brother Jimmie and is at once taken by him. She observes in awe Petes hair curled down over his forehead in an oiled bang and rather pigged nose (Crane 17). A reader can tell by Petes appearance and matter of speaking that he is no top notch educated gentleman.
However, Maggie believes he must be a very elegant and graceful bartender (18). This illustrates that Maggie's standards are not high due to her life of poverty. Pete takes notice of Maggie due to her outa sight shape. As they start dating it is apparent Maggie is in love with Pete. The feelings are unrequited as Pete only dates Maggie for her looks. Eventually Pete finds a prettier face and tells Maggie to go to hell.
This affair stains Maggie and puts and end to whatever sliver of a good reputation she contained. Pete thought nothing of Maggie and only of his brilliant whores. In the end even the whores of brilliance and audacity shun Pete to steal his money and leave the damn fool in a heap on the streets. Furthermore, Charles Drouet adds depth to the novel Sister Carrie despite the fact that he remains the same throughout it. At the beginning of the novel Carrie meets Drouet and almost immediately sparks fly. Carrie is enticed by Drouet's new at that time business suit and pizzazz.
Carrie naively believes this man is rich due to his appearance, yet he is a masher. Carrie is new to all this and thrives on material possessions, thus aides her attraction to Drouet. Drouet buys her things therefore winning Carrie over. However, the relationship they share is not out of love.
Drouet is simply buying Carries affection. This is further revealed as Drouet makes empty promises of marrying Carrie. Due to Carries affair with Drouet's friend Hurst wood Drouet leaves Carrie. Drouet's character resurfaces towards the novels end at the time Carrie is a successful Broadway star. Hardy offers a glimpse of hope that Drouet has changed. However, he is still the same flashy masher as always.
In the conclusion Drouet becomes disinterested in Carrie and interested by a couple of girls over on Fortieth Street (Dreiser 480). A reader senses Drouet will remain the same and never marry. There will always be girls on Fortieth Street. Dynamic characters also aid in the plot of these writings. However, only Tess of the dUrbervilles and Sister Carrie contain dynamic characters. For example, Hardy's Tess meets and falls in love with dynamic character Angel Claire.
Angels name symbolizes the kindness of his char...
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