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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
ПИ № ФС 77 - 51217


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Luiza Bayramova et al. "THE IMAGE OF A RICH PERSON – THE FINANCIER IN THE NOVELS OF THEODORE DREISER “THE FINANCIER ” AND “THE STOIC”: AXIOLOGICAL ASPECT". Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal (International Research Journal) , (2015): . Mon. 06. Apr. 2015.



Байрамова Л.К.1, МухаметдиноваР.Г.2

1профессор, доктор филологических наук; 2Доцент, кандидат филологических наук Казанский Федеральный Университет



В статье проанализированы лексические и фразеологические единицы используемые Теодором Драйзером для описания жизни и деятельности богатого человека – финансист Франк Коупервуд (Теодор Драйзер. “Финансист” и “Стоик”). Доказано, что богатство не только ценность, но также и антиценность, потому что получено несправедливыми способами.

Ключевые слова: двойственное отношение, антиценность, аксиология, нечестные, финансовые предположения, безнравственные, трудолюбивые, бедность, ценность, богатство.

Luiza Bayramova1, Roza Mukhametdinova2

1Professor, PhD of philology, 2assosiate professor Kazan  (Volga Region) Federal University



In the article the lexical and phraseological units used by Th. Dreiser for the description of life and activity of a rich person – the financier Frank Cowperwood  (Theodore Dreiser. “The Financier” and “The Stoic”) are analyzed. It is proved that wealth is not only a value, but also an anti-value because it is got by unfair means.

Key words: ambivalency, anti-value, axiology, dishonest, financial speculations, immoral, industrious, poverty, value, wealth.


Axiology is a science about values and anti-values. The values are opposed to anti-values. They are represented in the language and reflect the culture.

We also believe that the conventional core of values and anti-values is reflected in ten dyads, each of them might be divided into 2 parts, reflecting values and anti-values, encoded in the consciousness and culture of societies and reflected in the linguistic units of different languages [2:27].

They include the following: vital values and anti-values (axiologemes: life and death; health and disease); sacred value and its anti-value (axiologemes: motherland and foreign land); hedonic values and anti-values (axiologemes: happiness and misfortune); social-utilitarian values and anti-values (axiologemes: labor and idleness); material and utilitarian values and anti-values (axiologemes: wealth and poverty); intellectually-cognitive values and anti-values (axiologemes: wit and stupidity); moral and ethical values and anti-values (axiologemes: truth and lie); emotional and utilitarian values and anti-values (axiologemes: laugh and weeping); religious values and anti-values (axiologemes: heaven and hell).

But the system of values and anti-values is dual and ambivalent (latin. ambo – ‘both’, valentia  – ‘force’).

In the article we consider lexical and phraseological units used by Th. Dreiser for the description of life and activity of a rich person – the financier Frank Cowperwood. It is proved that wealth is not only a value, but also an anti-value because it is got by unfair means. Th. Dreiser showed it through the example of the fate of  Frank Cowperwood. Frank Cowperwood  made his wealth dishonestly: fraud,  speculation,  bribery, machination.


One source of enrichment is a stock exchange activity. In the novel of Th. Dreiser “The Financier” Frank Cowperwood is a financier: a gambler in stocks. And the most important thing for Frank is to make money. A phraseological unit  “make money”  is used in the novel many times: “From the very first young Cowperwood knew how to make money” [3:24]. “Everybody knew he was making money now” [3:57]. He was going to work hard and make  money” [3:69]. People spoke about Frank Cowperwood: ”That’s a smart young fellow” [3:50].

Th. Dreiser also wrote about Cowperwood that he was a very gifted person: he “was by nature versed in the arts of finance”. The author compares Frank to a talented chess-player: “Imagine yourself one of those subtle masters of the mysteries of the higher forms of chess  –  the type of mind so well illustrated by the famous and historic chess-players, who could sit with their backs to a group of rivals playing fourteen men at once, calling out all the moves in turn, remembering all the positions of all the men on all the boards, and winning…This,  of course, would be an overstatement of the subtlety of Cowperwood at his time, and yet it would not be wholly out of bounds” [3:128].

Frank cared nothing for books (3:72). And the feeling of patriotism was alien to him.  He considered that “others might – there were many poor, thin-minded, half-baked creatures who would put themselves up to be shot; but they were only fit to be commanded or shot down. As for him, his life was sacred to himself and his family and his personal interests” [3:78]. His whole nature craved for living a rich, joyous and full life.

At the same time Th. Dreiser compares him to a spider: he is like a spider in a spangled net.

The real circumstances of American life are shown many- sided:

  • All the city and state officials speculated [3:67].
  • Cowperwood amassed his fortune through fraud during the war between North and South.
  • A city contract once awarded was irrevocable, but certain councilmen had to be fixed in advance and it took money to do that [3:108].
  • There was a political ring in Philadelphia in which the mayor, certain members of the council, the treasurer, the chief of police, the commissioner of public works, and others shared. It was a case generally of “You scratch my back and I’ll  scratch  yours”.
  • … bribery was what in every one’s mind in connection with the State legislature [3:160].
  • Frank was one of those early, daring manipulators who later were to seize upon other and even larger phases of American natural development for his own aggrandizement [3:182].
  • Charges of corruption were in the air [61].

In the novel “The Financier” there are many syntactical constructions reflecting the conception – wealth is got by lie, dishonestly: a lot of fictitious sellings;  financial ventures;  the abstrusities of the stock exchange; amassed his fortune through fraud; for manipulative purposes.  At the same time the word “conscience” is used in a context with the negative particle not: “but his conscience was not very much troubled by that”.

Frank is a punter, he enters into the fight with major financial big wigs and loses the contest, though by an unfortunate accident for him – a fire in Chicago.

As a result: banks, commercial houses, public buildings were burned to the ground. Ruin, disclosure of his machinations and the prison became inevitable for Cowperwood …

After his release from prison he sets to fraudulent transactions with much more energy, grows rich, and then goes to Chicago, “some kind of Mecca for criminals and business people of the second half of the nineteenth century” [3:442 ].

The “Stoic” is the final novel of “The Trilogy of Desire” and it is the last creation of Theodore Dreiser.  In the first two novels Frank Cowperwood, as has been proved above, took a start as a person learning the brutal laws of the capitalist jungle and finally turned into a tycoon, a man who has three passions – money, women and pieces of art. Being portrayed as cruel, immoral and inhuman Cowperwood at the same time is attracting Th. Dreiser by his power, energy and intellect. However, more than thirty year old time interval separating the first and third novels, as well as the author’s life experience against the background of changes in the world, could not but be reflected in the author’s assessment of the new world order and his hero.
In the “Stoic”   Th. Dreiser is not so sure in his negative attitude to Cowperwood:  the cruelty of a dealer is replaced by the strong desire to take   decisions for the benefit of people (construction of new lines of the underground); inhumanity – by a care about the people close to him (in his will he tried not to forget anyone; he was concerned about the fate of Berenice). Cowperwood is eager to leave a good memory of himself (he is going to convey his rich art gallery to the city, to build a social hospital). Despite his innumerous love affairs, he knows that he will not leave his wife because it would be dishonest towards her: “Oh, Aileen, yes. … She did a great deal for me once, and I am not ungrateful.” – He says to Berenice, his beloved woman [4:24].
The main action of the novel is transferred to London. Frank Cowperwood is 60. He is Croesus. The novel is not abundant in facts. Th. Dreiser is more focused on depicting the inner world of his characters. This is not by accidence. If one of the most important functions of the image of Cowperwood  in “The Financier” was to  present in an unequivocal manner the absence of moral principle in him and his like, in the “Stoic” we observe a turn to spirituality. Cowperwood starts brooding      about the meaning of life and simple human happiness. Thus, while relaxing on a yacht in Norway, when his health had deteriorated already, watching the simple seamen, he muses: “… this entire northern scene … represented such a sharp and socially insignificant phase of a world that really had no need for any such temperament as his… And yet he felt that these people had more from life in sheer beauty … than he and thousands of others like him who were so strenuously engaged in accumulating money… What really lay ahead of him?” [4: 291]. For the first time he began to regret, “… how small a part literature had played in his life ”  [4:289]. He discovered classical music when he accidentally went to hear a concert  of Chopin at the Paris Opera House  “… and Cowperwood was so entranced by the music that on reading in the program notes that Chopin was buried  at Pere–Lachaise, he suggested they visit that world-famous burial ground next day” [4:293]. Walking along the avenues of the cemetery “he once again became sensible of the fact that his own particular labors had barred him from knowledge of the intellectual and artistic significance of genius in many other fields” [4:293].
To describe the image of Cowperwood the author puts into the mouth of people from his circle of communication the following adjectives which characterize him as a strong personality:

  • “his ever-telepathic mind” [4:245-246],
  • “the shrewd, watchful, resourceful, and dynamic Cowperwood of the financial meeting room and parley” [4:256],
  • “Dynamic, thoughtful, cold, the executioner as well as the lover” [2:246],
  • “His natural varietism” [4:21],
  • “His own determined and almost savage individualism” [4:21],
  • “You are too wise and too clever” [4:33].

His varietism and individualism, in his own judgment, are the traits of his character, which did not allow him to achieve social prestige. “Of course, his youthful incarceration in the penitentiary in Philadelphia had not helped the matters … plus his unfortunate marriage to Aileen, who had been no real social help,” [4:21]. Cowperwood considered this fact to be a major obstacle to his further life. Another obstacle in his view was his age [4:21].
He got his second wind with Berenice, his ward, who he was deeply in love with and whose affection he had sought for eight years: “he experienced a sense of rejuvenation which almost at once definitely restored his old constructive mind. At last, he felt, he had the love of a woman who could truly support him in his quest for power, fame, prestige” [4:23]. And this desire of power, fame and social prestige is repeated as a refrain many times through the book.

It was Berenice who prompted to him a new field for his career: “Don’t you think you ought to take a rest, look about and see the world apart from business? You might find something you could do, some big public project that would bring you praise and fame, rather than money.” She advised Cowperwood to leave America and move to Europe for a change. That reminded Frank of the proposal made to him by two adventuring British businessmen to take up the construction of the London underground railway. Cowperwood invests all his energy, experience, knowledge and money in the new business. And again, as he had done in “The Financier”, Th. Dreiser resorted to a simile comparing  his main character to a master chess player  in order to highlight his extraordinary abilities: “Like a master chess player, Cowperwood proposed to outwit all of the entirely nationalistic and, of course, humanly selfish elements arrayed against him in his underground project “[4:261].
Having transferred the setting of the novel to London, Th. Dreiser took into consideration the new realities which had appeared, such as the process of globalization of capitalism, the penetration of American capital in Europe. He vigorously describes the battles that Cowperwood had taken fighting against competitors. The author resorted to the periphrasis of a proverb “All is fair in love and war”:  “In fact, he was heard to say that he did not enjoy going into any project unless there was some opposition, and, as everything was fair in love and war, he was prepared to oppose the Drake interests to the last ditch” [4:269]. “Oppose to the last ditch” is the author’s version of a fixed word-combination “to die/to fight up to the last ditch”.
In “The Stoic” Th. Dreiser tried to show what a capitalist should be like: he should use his money for the benefit of people and progress, engage himself in charity, build hospitals, contribute to the development of arts. This is what Frank Cowperwood thought about at the end of his life: “And eventually, if all went well, he would quietly dispose of his holdings at an enormous profit, and thereafter leave the company to get along as best it could. He would have established his title as not only promoter but builder, and would have given London a modern and comprehensive metropolitan system which would bear the imprint of his genius … And thereafter, with his wealth, he could maintain his art gallery, organize his charities, build the hospital to which he had given much thought in the past, and at the same time leave to all to whom he felt obligated an unquestionably satisfactory reward” [4:262].

Frank Cowperwood, as depicted by Th. Dreiser, had gone along the path of evolution from an immoral young financier in chase after money and fame to a mature businessman who is concerned about life around him. So, we may suppose that through the evolution of the image of Cowperwood, Th. Dreiser outlined a possible way out of the vicious circle – a spiritual renewal and humanization in all spheres of life. Understanding came to Cowperwood too late. Once, trying to justify himself, Cowperwood formulated his “philosophy of favor”:  “It may be that there are other interests that come before those of the individual, but in favoring himselfhe appears, as a rule, to favor others” [4:25]. He did not realize one thing: wealth, ill-gotten is not a value but an anti-value.
Death from a serious illness, chronic nephritis. Not long before his death Cowperwood in order to reassure Berenice, who was frightened by his disease, said to her: “You see, God protects the honest and the industrious…” [4:298] .  There’s no denying that he was industrious, he had always worked hard. The answer is obvious – he was wrong in choosing the dishonest means. Having had outstanding potentials and abilities, he used them not to the best: “An end to all his creative labors.” [4:297].


  • Illness and death overtook Frank unexpectedly for himself, at the peak of his powers and at the turn to the ethical life. The question arises: why did Th. Dreiser choose such an outcome for his character? The whole logic of the image of Cowperwood denies the righteousness of his life’s goal – to achieve wealth for power over everything. However, all the struggle of Cowperwood for money and power was useless, even for his closest people.
  • Wealth is not only a value, but also an anti-value because it is got by unfair means. The system of values and anti-values is dual and ambivalent.
  • A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. – Bible. Proverbs, 22: 1.
  • Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew, 19: 23.


  1. Bayramova,Luiza. Interpretation of Idioms in Dictionaries in the Light of Cognitive Axiology // Phraseology and Cognitive Study. Idiomaticity and Cognition. Belgorod: University of Belgorod, 2008.
  2. Bayramova, Luiza. Ambivalency and Axiological Phraseologisms in Diads //
  3. Education and Science. A Collection of Materials, Part II. Humanities. Kazan: Kazan State University, 2007.
  4. Dreiser, Theodore. The Financier. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954.
  5. Dreiser, Theodore. The Stoic. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962.
  6. Hussman, Lawrence E., Jr. Dreiser and His Fiction: A Twentieth-Century Quest. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.
  7. Pizer, Donald. Dreiser’s Critical Reputation, 2000: – 21.04.2014.

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