Analysis Of Naturalism In Stephen Crane’s Red Badge Of Courage

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Naturalism is a literature that describes humans in relation to their interactions and influences with the environment. It was a movement which took place between the 1880s and 1940s. It suggested that social conditions, environment and heredity had a force in matters to do with shaping peoples character. Naturalism writers who had come up at the time were influenced by the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin, which lead them to believe that one’s social environment and heredity have an influence on one’s character. Naturalism also scientifically determines forces which influence the actions of the subject. The dark harshness of life are also exposed through naturalism examples include corruption, violence, prostitution and prejudice. Most naturalistic writers are often criticized as a result of being blunt. In all the pieces written by Crane, naturalism is clearly evident throughout his life.

Naturalism is often noted because of its deterministic philosophy of man and his fate in the universe. Among some traits that focus on the less fortunate people in the society are not in a position to control the external forces that force them to go against their free will. Naturalism is much more of the urban cities which is not surprising that most of the writers have come from urban societies. Stephen Crane is an example of such writers, and he grew up living a poor life in New York City. Some key practitioners in the naturalistic writing included, Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris, Edith Wharton and Jack London these writers are some of those who served to influence writers who came way after. Determinism is also a philosophical point which tends to put events of someone’s life out of their control. As Patricia Penrose wrote, naturalism assumes people to be hopeless beings who have to power over what drives them.

Stephen Crane was criticized often times because of being blunt but at the same time had a group of people praising him due to being realistic. In naturalistic writings, history determines the character which is evident in ‘Red Badge of Courage’ Cranes book where he puts the main character in war as a way of shaping him to become a courageous man. In the poem ‘War is Kind’ history is also seen to influence one’s character. The poem portrays the aftermath of a soldier who dies in war. An ironic tone is used to describes the widow, who has just lost his husband feels after everything that has happened. While narrating the poem, Crane puts it in a way where the dying man throws his hands to the sky as imagery to show that Crane disapproves the attitude towards war.

The reason behind Cranes use of the movement is from his family’s lifestyle. He was born in Newark, his mother being dedicated to social concerns while his father was a minister. The effect of Crane’s parents is evident in his work. One unique thing that served as an advantage in Crane’s writing is the fact that he always lived in an environment that triggered what he wrote about (Furst). This would be easier for him to come up with characters and assign them roles. A good example explaining this is from ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ Crane was an expert in understanding the pain experienced in wars because he was once experiencing that. Much of his work is narrated ordinarily, which is extraordinary because of the close relations he had with people.

Though Stephen Crane’s life was short, he was successful from his naturalistic works which were in abundance. His works greatly impacted American literature. He even received credits from Ernest Hemingway as an influencer in the literary waves sweeping the naturalist phase. Naturalist fiction marked growth in American cities, a demonstration in the motivations for human behaviour was manifested as well with violence and sexuality. Naturalism has been shaped by the war and the social upheavals which undermined the comforting age in America.

Cranes work was mostly influenced by realistic concerns and naturalism, including spiritual verses fear, ideas versus reality. Crane’s lifestyle allowed him to come up with novels that contained vivid themes such as war, death and isolation. Most of these themes were well indicated in Crane’s first three poems which are: Maggie, George’s Mother and The Red Badge Of Courage. The three characters suffer from identity but still make their dreams come true. Crane fascinates death and war. While he was still alive, critical readers denominated him as an impressionist, ironist expressionist and naturalist. His entire life was full of critics, and some referred to him as a bleak naturalist and an anti-artist hero.

Crane left a legacy after publishing five novels, three short story collection. Two poetry volumes and a lot of fiction work. The Red Badge is one of the most recognized books, and it has been adapted for the screens several times. Crane is remembered for using naturalism to represent his work which has been accepted as an American classic today. His works remain significant in the literal world and are recognized as one of the best American authors leaving an impact that will be felt by future readers. In the 1920s cranes work almost got forgotten until his biography was published by Thomas Beer and editor Wilson Follett. 


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