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Transcript of Naturalism
It's your fate...like it or not!
Naturalism was an offshoot from and a development out of Realism
Realism is considered a literary movement
Naturalism is also a literary movement, but is also more of a philosophy
Realists wanted to view the world as honestly and objectively as possible.
Naturalists did this too. BUT, while Realists tried to remain optimistic about life, Naturalists took a much more pessimistic view.
Naturalism is considered the extreme form of Realism
While Realists focused on what a character would do in a certain situation...
...Naturalists believed that a character's reaction was predetermined by natural forces (fate)
Characteristics of Naturalism
CHARACTERISTIC 1 - PESSIMISM
The author has a pessimistic tone, the characters have a pessimistic outlook, the whole book is one big glass-half-empty look at the world
A lot of Naturalist works deal with the inevitability of death
CHARACTERISTIC 2 - OBJECTIVITY
The author tries to maintain an objective or even detached tone
Naturalist texts will often even have nameless characters as a way of staying detached
This puts more of a focus on plot and less of a focus on individual characters
CHARACTERISTIC 3 - INEVITABLE FATE
Naturalists believed in fate. There was no escaping destiny.
The author makes the reader believe that the fate of the character has already been predetermined by certain factors, especially environmental factors, and he or she can do nothing to change it.
CHARACTERISTIC 4 - PLOT TWISTS
Many Naturalist works have a surprising plot twist the reader never saw coming
This reinforces that man is not in control of his own destiny
CHARACTERISTIC 5 - NATURE'S INDIFFERENCE
There is a strong sense in the naturalist stories and novels that nature is not affected by human struggle
The natural world will continue to exist regardless of what happens to the people in it
Philosophical Ideas of Naturalism
ACCORDING TO NATURALISM - GOD
There is no God
Natural forces are the only cause for the universe
There is no creator, no higher power
No heaven, no hell - nothing
Death = oblivion
ACCORDING TO NATURALISM - THE UNIVERSE
Purposeless, mechanistic - it just is
Indifferent to man AT BEST
More likely, the universe is actually hostile toward man
ACCORDING TO NATURALISM - MAN'S WILL
Man is only an animal, a product of evolution - nothing special
Humans are no better or different than animals - live crudely and by instinct, unable to control their destinies
Man is not free - every thought, action and emotion is determined by natural forces, social circumstances, or accident
ACCORDING TO NATURALISM - MAN'S NATURE
Man is cruel, egotistical, selfish
These qualities are necessary to live in a world where only the strongest survive
The natural world rewards those who are shrewd, crafty and ruthless
ACCORDING TO NATURALISM - MAN'S DESTINY
Man is destined for misery, frustration and unhappiness
Naturalists believed sensual pleasures were the only things that provide man with joy or fulfillment
There is little to no pleasure in life
Death is inevitable, so actions are worthless since everything is meaningless anyway
CHARACTERISTIC 6 - SOCIALLY SYMBOLIC CHARACTERS
Characters will often stand in to represent their whole strata of society
They will symbolically represent all the social ills or weaknesses of their particular group
Their lives are often presented in meticulous detail
The environment around these people often plays a dominant role in shaping their destinies
CHARACTERISTIC 7 - CONFLICTED CHARACTERS
The characters in most naturalistic novels are
average, everyday people who struggle to make choices in their daily lives
Most themes describe the character's internal and external daily struggles
Most of the time, the characters have trouble deciding what choices to make and wonder how their actions will effect others
The Origins of Naturalism
Naturalism began gaining momentum in the 1890's and continued until World War II
It saw its peak during the Great Depression
INFLUENCES ON NATURALISM
All the same influences on Realism
War (a lot of it)
The rise of Darwinism, then Social Darwinism (survival of the fittest)
A closer bond with European writers who were already doing it
The Writers of Naturalism
POPULAR NATURALIST WRITERS
Mark Twain (at the end of his career)
Theodore Dreiser is known for his society novels
He wrote stories about lower class people struggling to rise above their place in society
Surprise, surprise...it never worked out
Jack London wrote adventure stories
about people (or animals) in extreme settings or situations forced to fight against their fates
Stephen Crane is known for his novels about war or adventure
The bottom line - the world can be a terrible place
Edith Wharton wrote society novels about people trapped by their status, past or surroundings.
No one ends up happily ever after...EVER.
So to sum it all up...
Fate wins. Always.
You are no better than an animal and have no control over your destiny.
There is no god and no reason for existence, therefore all actions are meaningless
The world is a bitter, hostile place and life offers little to no happiness whatsoever
And on that happy note...