Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Denise D. Knight
Stephen Crane’s novella, The Monster, 1 written in 1898, is now often considered one of his best works – but what accounts for that perception? Is it simply due to Crane’s talent as an imagistic author? Although The Monster was Crane’s second novella, the story has generated a vast amount of literary criticism, including dozens of articles highlighting the role of Dr. Trescott. Throughout the years, several critics have suggested that Dr. Trescott exemplifies immense and sincere compassion for Henry Johnson, and, as a result, he becomes a victim to the horrific townspeople of Whilomville. In his article, “Responding to Crane’s ‘The Monster,’ Ronald K. Giles argues that “Thematically considered, ‘The Monster’ is about the consequences of moral courage. Dr. Trescott devotedly cares for Henry Johnson, the man who has saved his son. He treats him, finds a family to take him in, and pays for his keep …. the doctor’s moral victory causes the community to ostracize him” (46;50). Another critic who comes to the doctor’s defense is Sy Kahn who argues that the townspeople are “monstrous” for “their terror and eventual persecution of Dr. Trescott” (37). While such suggestions seem to hold some validity on the surface, when we delve deeper into the psyche of Dr. Trescott, we begin to realize the true motive behind his “sincere compassion”; furthermore, explicating Crane’s specific use of language decenters the dominant view of Trescott’s genuine acts of kindness. Although there is no concrete evidence that Dr. Trescott suffers from any sort of diagnosed disorder, there are various incidents throughout the story which suggest that he is affected by a personality disorder known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
DeChellis, Amy, "Narcissism and Stephen Crane’s the monster : a psychoanalytical reading of Dr. Trescott." (2014). Master's Theses. 96.