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Naturalism vs. Realism

English Literature

Parth Bhatt

on 2 March 2013

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Transcript of Naturalism vs. Realism

Naturalism vs. Realism
Prepared and Presented by
Sem IV
eng_dept_bu@googlegroups.com Realism vs. Naturalism Naturalism vs. Realism Naturalism conti Works Cited Naturalism conti.. Realism conti.. Naturalism Realism vs. Romanticism Naturalism Realism is applied by critics in two different ways Realism Naturalism & Realism Defined Naturalism (literature), in literature, the theory that literary composition should be based on an objective, empirical presentation of human beings. It differs from realism in adding an amoral attitude to the objective presentation of life. 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.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Realism (art and literature), in art and literature, an attempt to describe human behavior and surroundings or to represent figures and objects exactly as they act or appear in life. Attempts at realism have been made periodically throughout history in all the arts; the term is, however, generally restricted to a movement that began in the mid-19th century, in reaction to the highly subjective approach of romanticism. The difference between realism and naturalism is harder to define, however, 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 literature, attempts to apply scientific theories to art.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 1. To identify a movement in the writing of Novels in early Nineteenth Century Honoré de Balzac in France, George Eliot in England, and William Dean Howells in America, and
2. To designate a recurrent mode, in various eras and literary forms, of representing human life and experience in literature. (Abrams 335) Realism is often opposed to romantic fiction. The romance 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. This distinction in terms solely of subject matter, while relevant, is clearly inadequate. It is more useful to identify realism in terms of the effect on the reader: 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. (Abrams 335) To achieve such effects, the novelists we identify as realists may or may not be selective in subject matter—although most of them prefer the commonplace and the everyday, 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. For example, Daniel Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe' and Moll Flanders; but he made his novels seem to readers a mirror held up to reality by his reportorial manner of rendering all the events, whether ordinary or extraordinary, in the same circumstantial, matter-of-fact, and seemingly unselective way. (Abrams 336) Naturalism is sometimes claimed to give an even more accurate depiction of life than realism. But naturalism is not only, like realism, 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. (Abram 335) A person inherits compulsive instincts—especially hunger, the drive to accumulate possessions, and sexuality—and is then subject to the social and economic forces in the family, the class, and the milieu into which that person is
born. The end of the naturalistic novel is usually "tragic," but not, as in classical and Elizabethan tragedy, because of a heroic but losing struggle of the individual mind and will against gods, enemies, and circumstances. Instead
the protagonist of the naturalistic plot, a pawn to multiple compulsions, usually disintegrates, or is wiped out. (Abrams 335) Aspects of the naturalistic selection and management of subject matter and its austere or harsh manner of rendering its materials are apparent in many modern novels and dramas, such as Hardy's Jude the Obscure, 1895 Hardy largely substituted a cosmic determinism for biological and environmental determinism), various plays by Eugene O'Neill in the 1920s, and Norman Mailer's novel of World War II, The Naked and the Dead. An enlightening exercise is to distinguish how the relation between the sexes is represented in a romance (Richard Blackmore's Loma Doone, 1869), an ironic comedy of manners Qane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, 1813), a realistic novel (William Dean Howells' A Modern Instance, 1882), and a naturalistic novel (Émile Zola's Nana, 1880, or Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, 1925). Movements originally opposed both to nineteenth-century realism and naturalism (though some modern works, such as Joyce's Ulysses, 1922, combine aspects of all these novelistic modes) are expressionism and symbolism (Abrams 262) Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Abrams, M.H., and Geoffrey Harpham. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 8th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. eBook. Special Thanks to Prof. Dr. Dilip Barad for guidance, and Bhagirath Khuman for introducing Prezi to me, and to my listeners for tolerating me.
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