An American Tragedy is one of the greatest works by Theodore Dreiser in 1925. The novel tells a story of a young man Clyde Griffiths who grows from an innocent boy to a murderer by pursuing high social status. This paper analyses the causes of Clyde’s tragedy from social factors and his personality. The paper can be divided into four chapters. The first chapter focuses on the introduction of the background of the novel and the significance of the study. The second chapter is about the literature review of the previous and related studies. Chapter three analyses the main social causes which result in the protagonist’s tragedy, including value system, family shame, religious effect and political causes. The last chapter is about the conclusion of the thesis. Clyde’s tragedy is not only his own but also the tragedy of America. He is a victim under the capitalist system of America.
Key Words:social causes; tragedy; corruption