Thursday, February 10, 2011

Realism Project: Naturalism

Naturalism is frequently placed in the same category as Realism because of the concentrations on the "now" as opposed to what could be or what will happen. "The term Naturalism describes a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings" (Campbell). Apart from its adopted brother, Naturalism adheres to a more philosophical meaning than Realism, referring to that characters are studied through their interactions and relationships with nature and their surroundings (Campbell). Due to this altered point of view, Naturalism writers were able to create an idea that the rules of human existence could be understood and possibly manipulated (Campbell). So, to prove this idea, Naturalism writers set up a system much like the Scientific Method for writing their novels, including observations of human instinct, heredity, and living environments to help better their understanding of human characteristics. Thus, the characters of Naturalism works are lower class and uneducated, and their lives are controlled by the forces of human characteristics and past experiences (Campbell). But, in this world of low expectations, the writers found the qualities of man usually associated with the fantastic, heroic, or adventurous, including such acts of violence or passion involving feats of bodily strength and resulting in desperate moves which wind up repaying the character with death (Campbell). Most of these characters live in urban or slightly suburban housing areas and go through journeys of wilderness or subtle, subconscious wilderness. Themes dealt with despair and the high chances of failure in everyday life in that characters often found that their individuality led to their inevitable demise (Campbell). Naturalistic writers thought that by studying the habits and actions of everyday people, they would better understand what the rules are that control their lives on Earth (Campbell). These "scientific observations" conducted by the writers gave them enough information to personify man as the nature-driven, instinctual pig it is. However, these writers did not think about the variances among the social classes, races, and origins of people that would create large diversities in their stories, but the Naturalistic writers concentrated only on the lower class (Campbell).

Works Cited

Campbell, Donna M. "Naturalism in American Literature. " Literary Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. 27 Jul. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. .

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