Realism and Naturalism Jay P.
March 2, 1999
Erected during age of Transcendentalism during the mid 19th century until its
way of thinking which is that, it is the person?s surroundings and environment in which
affects the person?s outcome.
Such examples of Realism in Literature would be that of Mark Twains The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg. In this story a stranger, once a poor gambler, drops off forty-thousand dollars worth of gold, which he won from gambling, to a lady?s house. And for the lady to find the citizen of Hadleyburg who, long before, had given him twenty dollars to start his life over again, to give him the sack of gold to compensate for the citizens generosity. The lady (Mrs. Richards) deciding along with her husband to go public with the story ends up corrupting the once, peaceful and honest town. This great example of Realism fulfills the definition that it is the persons motive and action not their environment that affects their fate, in contrast to Naturalism which contradicts it.
Literature, in that era, were mostly Naturalistic stories, such great stories as Edith Wharton?s Ethan Frome and The Octopus. But, in opinion, the greatest expression of Naturalism is that of Jack London?s tales, specifically, London?s story To Build a Fire.
In this story, describes his horrific experience in the arctic cold trying to catch up with the ?pack? enduring painful frostbites and numbness due to the ?environment? only surviving with building fires to keep him and his dog warm. Metaphorically, it is a man, trying to conquer his environment i.e. ?nature? whom his fate falls upon. This novel expresses the definition of Naturalism that it is the environment, not the motive of the person that affects his/her outcome.
In The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg it was the citizens decisions that determined the fate of the town as well as the people. In To Build a Fire it was his fate that fell into the hands of the environment to which it determined it. These two novels are great expressions of Realism and Naturalism and how their ideas totally differ. But there other great novels and authors such as Balzac and Drieser that express Realism and Naturalism in many interesting ways. Realism and Naturalism was the leading forefront in Transcendentalists ideas and literature as well as art. And similarly, with different ideas, came about great novels.