McTeague, a novel written at the turn of the century by Frank Norris, is a classic
example of naturalist writing. This novel is written with the harsh realities that were this
time period. There are many themes that occur in naturalism. Some of them that appear in
this novel are greed, lust, strife, as well as Darwinism and animal imagery. All of these
themes help Norris describe with vivid detail his tragic account of human degradation.
One of the forces that drives many characters such is Zerkow, Trina, and
McTeague is greed. Zerkow is an old man who has gold fever. All he ever thinks of is
where he can get some more gold from. When he hear Maria telling her story of the gold
bowls and dinner service he is immediately interested. On page 38 it reads 'It was
impossible to look at Zerkow and not know instantly that greed-inordinate, insatiable greed
-was the dominate passion of the man.' This shows us that greed is what turns this guys
wheels He ends up marrying her only with the hope that she might be able to locate these
missing riches. When she is unable to find the gold he becomes mad at her and slits her
throat before killing himself. It is possible that he put so much of himself into his greed
that when he could not quell it with the gold he felt his life was not worth living. Trina
shows how greedy she is when she wins the 5,000 in the lottery. She will not spend any
money where it is needed, and because of this the couples standards of living decline.
Although Trina and Zerkows' greed for riches was almost identical, Zerkow is vied as a
lost soul, yet Trina is viewed as a proper young lady. This is one of the things that leads to
her death and the downfall of McTeague . McTeague shows that he is greedy also after
Trina wins the money. He wants to control the money as if it belongs to him. In a way
greed also drives Marcus who feels like Trina's money should be his.
Another force that fuels a characters fire is lust. This can be greatly seen in
McTeague. From the minute Trina sat down in his dentist chair McTeague felt like he
wanted her, like he MUST have her. this can be seen on page 25. ' The male, virile desire
in him tardily awakened, aroused itself, strong and brutal. It was restless, untrained, a
thing not to be held in leash an instant.' This lust is what drove McTeague in the early part
of this novel. Another important scene that shows us the development of McTeagues' lust
for Trina is in the rail yard where he proposes to her, kisses her violently, then says 'I've
got her!' Another character driven by lust is Zerkow. He does not lust for a person, he
lusts for the gold and riches that Maria has told him about.
Another thing that drives these characters is strife. Strife is a vigorous or bitter
conflict, discord or antagonism. This can be mainly seen in Marcus. After Trina wins the
lottery he begins to have internal and...