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Stephen Crane Essay, Research Paper

Stephen Crane was one of the United States foremost naturalists in the late 1800?s ("Stephen" n.p.). He depicted the human mind in a way that few others have been capable of doing while examining his own beliefs. Crane was so dedicated to his beliefs that one should write about only what they personally experience that he lived in a self-imposed poverty for part of his life to spur on his writings (Colvert, 12:108). Crane?s contribution to American Literature is larger than any one of his books or poems. All parts of Crane?s life greatly influenced, or were influenced by his writings, whether it was his early life, formal education, writing career, or later years ("Stephen" n.p.).

Stephen Crane was born in Newark, New Jersey on November 1, 1871. He was the last of fourteen children of a Methodist minister, Jonathan Townley, and Mary Helen Peck ("Stephen" n.p.). Being a minister, his father greatly influenced his ideas and attitudes towards writing. His father was a kind minister, but his mother believed that God was a God of wrath. The effects of his preoccupation with faith are evident in most of Crane?s work, Throughout his writings he tried to shake the thought that God was wrathful (Colvert, 12:101).

Stephen Crane began his formal education at a military school where he studied the Civil War and military training ("Stephen" n.p.). After military school he proceeded to attend Lafayette College in the fall of 1890 where he played baseball. Eventually, he was forced to withdraw from Layette because he refused to do any work. After leaving Lafayette, he moved on to attend Syracuse University, where he also played baseball, and wrote for his brother?s news service (Colvert 12:102). It is said that Crane wrote the preliminary sketch of his novella, Maggie, while at Syracuse. He eventually decided to quit school and become a full time reporter for the New York Tribune ("Stephen" n.p.).

Crane began his writing career in poverty, hoping that it would inspire him to write. Along with his beliefs in Darwinism, he drew much if his influences from his religious beliefs (Colvert 12:108). Famous writers such as Hamlin Garland, William Howells, Rudyard Kipling, and Tolstoy also influenced him (12:101). The first of his stories was Maggie, which was very unpopular ("Stephen" n.p.). His second novel, The Red Badge of Courage, earned Crane international fame. The Red Badge of Courage showed Crane?s views of life as warfare in a book that is basically plotless. It is about a young soldier, Henry Fleming, and the emotions that he experiences during wartime ("Stephen" n.p.). Crane?s most famous work of poetry was Black Riders, which appears to have little or no outside influences (Quartermain 54:106). Black Riders was also an attempt by Crane to get rid of his thought that God was vengeful and wrathful (Colvert 12:101).

In his later life Crane became ill with tubercleiosis after a shipwreck en route to Havana (Quartermain 54:109). At the age of twenty seven Crane moved to Jacksonville, Florida and met his future common law wife, Cora Taylor ("Crane" n.p.). The lived together at the Hotel Dedream, a hotel, nightclub, and brothel. While in Jacksonville he wrote about the Commodore sinking. He also reported on the Spanish-American War for Joseph Pulitzer?s New York World in an attempt to pay off debts that he had incurred during this time. Crane made famous friends here such as H.G. Wells and Henry James. Crane then moved to London, England, where in 1900 he began to hemorrhage constantly and was moved to Dover, and shortly after to a sanitarium at Beden Weiler in the Black Forest (Quartermain 54:112) He died there on June 5, 1900 ("Crane" n.p.).

Stephen Crane was one of the most influential writers of the nineteenth century. He analyzed the responses of people under extreme pressures, such as the pressure of war. He liked to write about war and the need for courage, integrity, grace, and generosity in a harsh world. Crane expressed many common themes in his writings such as father/son relationships and the fear of religious retribution ("Crane" n.p.).


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