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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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