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Realism And Naturalism Essay, Research Paper

Erected during age of Transcendentalism during the mid 19th century until its

plunge after the Civil War, Realism and Naturalism, were ideas that are brought

up in philosophical thinking. Both Realism and Naturalism are logical concepts

upon how to describe the affects upon ones self and are popularly expressed

through art and literature. Though they seem similar, they, in many ways,

greatly differ from one another. An example of these differences would be that

their notions greatly contradict. Realism is defined as the belief that it is

the person?s choices and actions that affect the outcome of that person, not

the environment. This opposes the Naturalistic 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


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