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Realism, Naturalism, Modernism

English Literature

Colleen Tripp

on 20 September 2018

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Transcript of Realism, Naturalism, Modernism


Realism Defined
Naturalism contd
Plot of Naturalism
Realism conti..
Realism vs. Romanticism
Realism vs Naturalism
Naturalism Defined
Naturalism (literature)
: a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings. Unlike Realism, which focuses on literary technique, naturalism implies
a philosophical position
: for naturalistic writers, human beings are (in Emile Zola's phrase) "human beasts" and
characters can be studied through their relationships to their surroundings.

The Naturalist believed in studying human beings as though they were "products" that are to be studied impartially, without moralizing about their natures.

Naturalistic writers regard
human behavior as controlled by instinct, emotion, or social and economic conditions, and reject free will
, adopting instead, in large measure, the biological determinism of Charles Darwin and the economic determinism of Karl Marx.

Realism (art and literature) is an aesthetic attempt to describe/explore human behavior and surroundings and to represent figures and objects exactly as they act or appear in life.

The difference between realism and naturalism is harder to define, and the two terms are often used interchangeably.

The distinction lies in the fact that realism is concerned directly with what is absorbed by the senses;
naturalism, a term more properly applied to the literature of this week, attempts to apply scientific theories to art.
is often opposed to romantic fiction.
is said to present life as we would have it be—more picturesque, fantastic, adventurous, or heroic than actuality; realism, on the other hand, is said to represent life as it really is.

Realistic fiction
is written to
give the effect that it represents life and the social world
as it seems to the common reader, evoking the sense that its characters might in fact exist, and that such things might well happen.
To achieve such effects, most realists prefer the commonplace and everyday subject matter, represented in minute detail, over rarer aspects of life—but they must render their materials in ways that make them seem to their readers the very stuff of ordinary experience.

Naturalism is sometimes claimed to give an even more accurate depiction of life than realism. But naturalism is not only a special selection of subject matter and a special way of rendering those materials;
it is a mode of fiction that was developed by a school of writers in accordance with a particular philosophical thesis.

This thesis, a product of post-Darwinian biology in the nineteenth century,

held that a human being exists entirely in the order of nature
and does not have a soul nor any mode of participating in a religious or spiritual world beyond the natural world; and therefore, that such a being is merely
a higher-order animal
whose character and behavior are entirely determined by two kinds of forces, heredity and environment.
A person inherits compulsive instincts—especially hunger, greed, and sexuality—and is then subject to the social and economic forces of the family, class, and social milieu into which that person is born.

The end of the naturalistic novel is usually "tragic,"
but not like the classical and Elizabethan tragedy, where the struggle of the heroic individual clashes with gods, enemies, and circumstances.

Instead, the protagonist of the naturalistic plot--depicted as a pawn to multiple compulsions and nature--is victim to external forces and decays in mind and body or is wiped out.

Aspects of naturalistic selection are apparent in multiple modern novels and dramas, such as:
various plays by Eugene O'Neill in the 1920s, Ralph Ellison's
Invisible Man
, Cormac McCarthy's
Blood Meridian
, and Norman Mailer's novel of World War II,
The Naked and the Dead
Modernist literature is characterized chiefly by a rejection of 19th-century conventions and the consensus between author and reader (narration as non-linear, unreliable, and more). Modernists wished to distinguish themselves from virtually the entire history of art and literature.

Ezra Pound,“Make it new!”
Many Modernist writers felt that every story that could possibly be told had, in one way or another, been told already. In order to create something new, they often had to try using new forms of writing. The period thus produced many experimental and avant-garde styles. Example:
Invisible Man
Human beings as products.
Exploration of "What makes Me who I am?" and "What ultimately drives us?"
Nature vs nurture
The brute or beast within
Nature's indifference to human beings
Topics of Naturalism
Naturalism in philosophy is:

"the idea or belief that only laws of nature (physical law as opposed to supernatural or spiritual forces) operate in the world; the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world."

Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalist writers) assert that:
natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe
Naturalist Fiction is often populated with characters whose relationship with their surroundings is especially difficult or challenging.

In fact, naturalist plots typically follow a noticeable "plot of decline," or a plot that often depicts a character's progression (or retrogression) toward degeneration or death. Determinism is often a prevailing theme, in which the characters struggle against the environment and are unable to express free will or agency. These narratives tend to be written in the third person, omniscient point of view.
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