Realism in American literature Essay
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The novel “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane. Is a work of fiction challenging trained English enthusiasts to determine where it fits in; the category of true naturalism or realism. Steven Crains first novel written in 1893 falls after the end of a realist movement starting in 1860 to 1890 this was realism/naturalism in a time when people were ready and wanting stories the common man can relate to.
The story starts out in the bowery with a fight indicative of the struggles many were facing being from the middle or lower classes; just one sign of realism.
Another good point of realism is expressed thru a vivid telling of the characters, Timmy a rough neck lacking sympathy and having a chip on his shoulder, as well as speaking a dialect of the time and local was expressed clearly in the opening lines A very little boy stood upon a heap of gravel for the honor of Rum Alley.
He was throwing stones at howling urchins from Devil’s Row who were circling madly about the heap and pelting at him.
His infantile countenance was livid with fury. His small body was writhing in the delivery of great, crimson oaths. “Run, Jimmie, run! Dey’ll get yehs,” screamed a retreating Rum Alley child. http://www. learnlibrary. com/maggie/maggie_1. htm Jimmy is made to be very understandable and the depth of his character is complex yet explained very well in terms of realism.
Realists center their attention to a remarkable degree on the immediate, the here and now, the specific action, and the verifiable consequence” (A Handbook to Literature 428). The alcoholic mother is the dysfunctional matriarch in this story and is the cause of much of the problems plaguing the lives of her children by driving them out thru drunken rages and a grave lack of compassion; a person’s actions are the cause, not extraneous forces, like a naturalist would expect you to believe.
In this short story the family consisting of, Pete, jimmy, Maggie, tommy, Mary and father Johnson; all living in a part of the city where everyday life is a struggle for people with low means; this would give convincing indications of realism; furthermore reasoning that outside forces could be the cause in the detriment of their lives; Poverty, economy and socialism being the culprits makes this story lean towards naturalism.
Lending to the theory; that they would be different people, if circumstance were more favorable. Even though these characters are extreme in their natures and appear to be over the top in a manor consistant with characteristics common to writings of drama as well as romanticism and falling very much in the realm of naturalism the central theme of family life and tragity are all closely related to humanity and fall into the catorgory of realism in American literature.
The play picnic written by William Inge was written in 1953 a time when American writers were utilizing realism in there literature and giving new rise and newer definition to the ideas associated with realism. The American writer was eliminating all argument that romanticism and naturalism could be associated to their works by putting simple life maters to paper and expressing human life as simply as possible whill keeping the focus in the factual characteristics of man womon dialog in the play the picnic it doesn’t get any more down to earth and simplistic.
The play takes place in a Midwestern town on Labor Day and goes into the lives of Helen Potts, Hal Carter, Millie Owens, Bomber, Madge Owens Flo Owens, Rosemary Sydney, Irma Kronkite, Christine Schoenwalder and Howard Bevans each one of these people showing in the course of the play all of their personality characteristics, there are no super heroes and no moral teachings to be had in this realistic portrayal of everyday life of the middle class working.
Broadly defined as “the faithful representation of reality” or “verisimilitude,” it also denotes a particular kind of subject matter, especially the representation of middle-class life. (A Handbook to Literature 428).
In the first act a stranger come to stay and engages in romance with two of the sisters one sister wanting the other being wanted as the story goes on we find the mother miss Owens concerned with this strangers advances to her daughter and as it progresses her fears are not unwarranted as the stranger Hal and Madge soon find themselves caught in turmoil associated with love this is romantic in nature yet not romanticism as could be written by Shakespeare instead it is written in common everyday language and is familiar to almost every one alive today, boy meets girl, girl likes boy they kiss, emotions go awry and they both do incredibly stupid things and run off to get married.
(Richard Chase the American novel and it tradition) “states that character is more important than plot or action complex ethical choices are often the subject”. And surly emphasizes the decisions made when Madge runs after Hal. The elder women in the play act just like mothers grandmas and busy body women would gossiping about one another having emotional concerns for everyone in the immediate circle. They show emotional characteristics common yet subtle. The believability of these characters is an earmark of realism.
The complex relationship between rosemary and Howard can be seen in true clarity both of their natures ambitions and is realists in there interaction both when together and apart rosy Mary can be seen as a middle age woman with a man friend she clearly wants more from and necessarily from the need to be with him, as much as a selfish need to be better than all the unmarried women surrounding her and an inherent need to not die single;
At the risk of finding herself in a binding marriage with someone she doesn’t show much respect for she begs and pleads for Howard to marry her; at the expense of her own dignity. Howard Bevens character is shown toughly thru his action on stage he is a power driven business man with a need to maintain his freedom from marriage he is a well like person in spite of his drinking and rude talk of women as well as the fact he knows some working girls down at the hotel.
When he is getting grilled over the coals by rosemary his true colors start to show up he is fearful of waking up tomorrow without the comfort of still having rosemary afraid of going to the next level of commitment all the makings of a common man to be sure as best examined in the writings of the play “picnic” there can be no argument to the contrary that this play is anything but a play that fits squarely in the zonra of realism. This play typifies realism in the sense that these people are quite real and very dynamic in their relationships, that they show common desires and fears, and basically live just like the rest of us all too some degree.
The complexities in this play “raisin in the sun” are many and yet most of the dialogue can lead to a lesson in morals closely related to naturalism yet it is more of a realist style of story or play, the concerns brought up with racism and class are both issues relating to naturalism yet these are both contributing factors in the play and are secondary to the main theme of love honor integrity and family values pertaining to an ethnic group.
“Raisin in the sun” is written by Lorraine Hansberry it made its first debut in 1959 A time when in no doubt people were looking for a story where there was hope to be had in overcoming one’s own limitations and rising to the top when life’s predicaments would try to enslave