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Frank Norris’ McTeague: An Entropic Melodrama

Authors: Mohsen Masoomi, Fazel Asadi Amjad, Monireh Arvin


According to Naturalistic principles, human destiny in the form of blind chance and determinism, entraps the individual, so man is a defenceless creature unable to escape from the ruthless paws of a stoical universe. In Naturalism; nonetheless, melodrama mirrors a conscious alternative with a peculiar function. A typical American Naturalistic character thus cannot be a subject for social criticism of American society since they are not victims of the ongoing virtual slavery, capitalist system, nor of a ruined milieu, but of their own volition, and more importantly, their character frailty. Through a Postmodern viewpoint, each Naturalistic work can encompass some entropic trends and changes culminating in an entire failure and devastation. Frank Norris in McTeague displays the futile struggles of ordinary men and how they end up brutes. McTeague encompasses intoxication, abuse, violation, and ruthless homicides. Norris’ depictions of the falling individual as a demon represent the entropic dimension of Naturalistic novels. McTeague’s defeat is somewhat his own fault, the result of his own blunders and resolution, not the result of sheer accident. Throughout the novel, each character is a kind of insane quester indicating McTeague’s decadence and, by inference, the decadence of Western civilisation. McTeague seems to designate Norris’ solicitude for a community fabricated by the elements of human negative demeanours and conducts hauling acute symptoms of infectious dehumanisation. The aim of this article is to illustrate how one specific negative human disposition gradually, like a running fire, can spread everywhere and burn everything in itself. The author applies the concept of entropy metaphorically to describe the individual devolutions that necessarily comprise community entropy in McTeague, a dying universe.

Keywords: Animal imagery, entropy, Gypsy, melodrama.

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