|dc.description.abstract||Theodore Dreiser's novel SISTER CARRIE is almost untouched by
modern literary criticism in spite of the fact that it has been in
print for ninety years. This unique situation has resulted because
the original novel, published in 1900 by Doubleday, was intrusively
censored and heavily edited to the point where the characters are
significantly altered. The Pennsylvania Edition, published in
1981, is the first to restore original materials and make possible
a more accurate study of the novel.
This study, incorporating Jungian and archetypal concepts,
examines the character of Carrie Meeber in light of that new
edition. Chapter I compares the Doubleday and Pennsylvania
editions to show that intrusive editing did indeed alter Carrie's
character into a facsimile of her original self. It shows how the
power of Dreiser's language was diminished, and how the balance
between characters in the novel was affected.
Chapter II concentrates on the difficulties Dreiser
encountered in attempting to publish SISTER CARRIE — difficulties
that led to some of the editing problems discussed in Chapter I.^
Criticism of the original Doubleday edition is also examined,
showing how it is often inconsistent with Dreiser's restored text
and thus presents an inadequate and sometimes distorted view of
Carrie. Chapter III portrays Carrie's emerging artistic psyche and the
beginning of her transformation from an unsophisticated country
girl to a perceptive, intelligent, and talented actress. Barriers
of class structure that stand in her way are dissolved as she
struggles for a place in a material world. Her audacious
participation in the relationship with Charles Drouet eventually
results in her introduction to the theatre and the world of acting,
but the social and moral balance for which she longs remains
unsatisfied. In her dissatisfaction she then leaves Drouet for the
sophisticated and more devious George Hurstwood.
Chapter IV takes Carrie from Chicago to New York and from her
apprenticeship in the theatre to an apprenticeship in human nature.
Hurstwood takes over from Drouet as Carrie's mentor, deceiving the
unsuspecting Carrie, who must learn to perceive truth through the
illusion of appearances. Mrs. Vance enters, serving as a guide,
reintroducing Carrie to the world of theatre and to Robert Ames.
As Hurstwood fails completely, Carrie calls on her acting
experience for support. She learns new and needed skills; her
disillusionment with Hurstwood is balanced by her growing selfconfidence
as an actress.
While the glitter of the theatre world now pulls at Carrie,
her compassionate awareness of Hurstwood's failure grooms her for
the reappearance of Ames. Ames then assumes the role of mentor,
directing Carrie to the meaning of her calling and the true
significance of art. The Coda speculates on a future relationship between Carrie and Ames, considering this relationship as a symbol of artistic and
spiritual wholeness. Carrie's personal experience has prepared her
to be a medium of artistic expression for the world.||