Login
Password

Forgot your password?

Book Review: 'Jennie Gerhardt' by Theodore Dreiser, an American Classic

By Edited Aug 19, 2016 0 0

Theodore Dreiser whose full name is Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser is an American writer. He is a writer whose life spanned two centuries having been born in 1871 and died in 1945.Dreiser belongs to the naturalist school of writers. Naturalist school believes in projecting realism in their books and concerns everyday reality. This movement flourished from the 1880s to the 1940s. One of the defining characteristics of realism is pessimism. This theme pervades most of Dreiser’s novels.

Dreiser wrote extensively. Perhaps his novels were an extension of his life and depict characters that succeed in life despite the obstacles surrounding them. His novel “Jennie Gerhardt” is one of his finest works. He wrote it in 1911 and the book will still interest readers though more than a hundred years have elapsed. 

The novel is the story of a woman named Jennie Gerhardt. Dreiser delineates the life of the woman from childhood till her old age. It is an excellent example of the naturalist school with which Dreiser is associated. The heroine of the novel the girl Jennie Gerhardt ultimately succeeds in fulfilling her love after a life of trial and tribulation

The novel commences from the time Jennie Gerhardt a poor woman without means falls in love with a senator. At that time she is working in a hotel in Columbus, Ohio. The senator wants to sleep with Jennie and as part of his plan announces that he will marry Jennie and also look after her family. Though there is an age difference between the senator and Jennie she acquiesces to sleeping with the senator. Dreiser now creates a twist in the story as the senator dies and Jennie is pregnant with his child. A daughter is born, who she names Vesta.

Jennie now changes her place of residence and moves to Cleveland. She takes up another menial job as a lady’s maid in a prosperous and well known family. She meets Lester Kane a well to do man from a business family. She falls in love with him and goes away for a visit to New York, leaving her daughter behind. King wants to marry her, but the fear of family resistance to his marrying a woman below his class forces him to propose that Jennie become his mistress.

Jennie reveals to Kane that she has a daughter, but Kane accepts it and the couple start living together in Chicago. The family of Kane opposes this relationship and the father leaves a will that Kane will not inherit the family business till he leaves Jennie. Despite this the couple visit Europe and Kane meets a high class woman named Letty Gerald.

Jennie is in a bind when she comes to know that Kane has been disinherited because of her and that he also loves Letty. She prevails on Kane to leave her. He accepts and marries Letty. Tragedy now strikes Gerhardt as her daughter dies of typhoid. In the meantime Kane falls sick and when Jennie learns about it she is heartbroken. Her love for Kane comes to the fore as she nurses him till his death. Jennie as a consolation and a purpose in life adopts two orphans.

 The novel has an undertone of pessimism and the main protagonist Jennie achieves true love after a tortuous life. The novel is one of the best by Dreiser, who in a writing career spread over 40 years wrote 11 novels.

Dreiser himself led a life which mirrors his books. He married Sarah White in 1893 but separated in 1909, but they never divorced. He had live in relationships with three other women, one of who was his cousin who he first met in 1919. He married her in 1944 and died a year later. Dreiser was a trail blazer and had a battle with the censors who could not understand his depiction of sexual promiscuity in his books.

Theodore Dreiser whose full name is Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser is an American writer. He is a writer whose life spanned two centuries having been born in 1871 and died in 1945.Dreiser belongs to the naturalist school of writers. Naturalist school believes in projecting realism in their books and concerns everyday reality. This movement flourished from the 1880s to the 1940s. One of the defining characteristics of realism is pessimism. This theme pervades most of Dreiser’s novels.

Dreiser wrote extensively. Perhaps his novels were an extension of his life and depict characters that succeed in life despite the obstacles surrounding them. His novel “Jennie Gerhardt” is one of his finest works. He wrote it in 1911 and the book will still interest readers though more than a hundred years have elapsed. 

The novel is the story of a woman named Jennie Gerhardt. Dreiser delineates the life of the woman from childhood till her old age. It is an excellent example of the naturalist school with which Dreiser is associated. The heroine of the novel the girl Jennie Gerhardt ultimately succeeds in fulfilling her love after a life of trial and tribulation

The novel commences from the time Jennie Gerhardt a poor woman without means falls in love with a senator. At that time she is working in a hotel in Columbus, Ohio. The senator wants to sleep with Jennie and as part of his plan announces that he will marry Jennie and also look after her family. Though there is an age difference between the senator and Jennie she acquiesces to sleeping with the senator. Dreiser now creates a twist in the story as the senator dies and Jennie is pregnant with his child. A daughter is born, who she names Vesta.

Jennie now changes her place of residence and moves to Cleveland. She takes up another menial job as a lady’s maid in a prosperous and well known family. She meets Lester Kane a well to do man from a business family. She falls in love with him and goes away for a visit to New York, leaving her daughter behind. King wants to marry her, but the fear of family resistance to his marrying a woman below his class forces him to propose that Jennie become his mistress.

Jennie reveals to Kane that she has a daughter, but Kane accepts it and the couple start living together in Chicago. The family of Kane opposes this relationship and the father leaves a will that Kane will not inherit the family business till he leaves Jennie. Despite this the couple visit Europe and Kane meets a high class woman named Letty Gerald.

Jennie is in a bind when she comes to know that Kane has been disinherited because of her and that he also loves Letty. She prevails on Kane to leave her. He accepts and marries Letty. Tragedy now strikes Gerhardt as her daughter dies of typhoid. In the meantime Kane falls sick and when Jennie learns about it she is heartbroken. Her love for Kane comes to the fore as she nurses him till his death. Jennie as a consolation and a purpose in life adopts two orphans.

 The novel has an undertone of pessimism and the main protagonist Jennie achieves true love after a tortuous life. The novel is one of the best by Dreiser, who in a writing career spread over 40 years wrote 11 novels.

Dreiser himself led a life which mirrors his books. He married Sarah White in 1893 but separated in 1909, but they never divorced. He had live in relationships with three other women, one of who was his cousin who he first met in 1919. He married her in 1944 and died a year later. Dreiser was a trail blazer and had a battle with the censors who could not understand his depiction of sexual promiscuity in his books.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Comments

Add a new comment - No HTML
You must be logged in and verified to post a comment. Please log in or sign up to comment.

Explore InfoBarrel

Auto Business & Money Entertainment Environment Health History Home & Garden InfoBarrel University Lifestyle Sports Technology Travel & Places
© Copyright 2008 - 2016 by Hinzie Media Inc. Terms of Service Privacy Policy XML Sitemap

Follow IB Entertainment