Arrowsmith is a classic American novel written by Sinclair Lewis. Lewis wrote this book in the early 1900's as a current outlook on the world of science in that time. The main theme it focuses on is commercialism and its effect on science. During this time period there were many advances in the field of medicine; everyone was racing to find the cure to deadly diseases and then patent it and profit off it. Helping humanity was more of a business than a service to the human race as doctors and institutes became more and more capitalistic. Like a business trying to maximize its profit, many doctors and scientists cut corners and guessed at many things so they could get their products or methods on the market as fast as possible.

However, there were a few scientists who stayed strictly devoted to their science, not letting money, glory, and success corrupt them. Scientists such as this despised commercialism and held contempt against the other doctors and scientists who fell into that system of capitalism. The book follows the life of Martin Arrowsmith, a scientist who is torn between pure science and commercialism. He wants to be a true scientist but he is pushed into commercialism by everyone he meets, except for a select few. Among the few is Max Gottlieb, who is Martin's model for everything a true scientist should be.

Gottlieb is a bacteriologist who is completely against the capitalist values of commercial doctors and scientists; he devotes himself religiously to his science, and he believes in being completely thorough and not guessing or accepting things without completely understanding them. Terry Wickett, a disciple of Gottlieb's, holds all the same values and attitudes as Gottlieb toward capitalism and commercialism. He helps Martin break away from commercialism, and become a true scientist.