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Quotes

Quote #1

There was no love lost between [Hurstwood and his wife]. There was no great feeling of dissatisfaction. Her opinion on any subject was not startling. They did not talk enough together to come to the argument of any one point. In the accepted and popular phrase, she had her ideas and he had his. (9.47)

Uh, hello? Is it not weird that there's "no love lost" between these two and they don't seem to communicate at all yet "there was no great feeling of dissatisfaction?" On what planet is this a satisfying marriage?

Quote #2

Such an atmosphere could hardly come under the category of home life. It ran along by force of habit, by force of conventional opinion. With the lapse of time it must necessarily become dryer and dryer—must eventually be tinder, easily lighted and destroyed. (9.67)

The metaphor here likening Hurstwood's marriage to tinder creates a truly vivid image of how time acts upon the flimsy foundations of their relationship to eventually result in utter destruction and devastation. (Hey, Dreiser—not bad for a hippopotamus.)

Quote #3

"[Mrs. Hurstwood] was too calculating to jeopardise any advantage she might gain in the way of information by fruitless clamour. Her wrath would never wreak itself in one fell blow […] She still took a faint pride in [Hurstwood], which was augmented by her desire to have her social integrity maintained. (12.1-2)

We've got to wonder whether train wreck marriages like the Hurstwoods's were, in part, products of an era in which women's access to social, economic, and political power was limited. For instance, Mrs. Hurstwood is so calculating and manipulative that she might have actually had a decent career in the business world. With no such professional outlet for her skills, she exercises them in her marriage instead, with disastrous results.

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