The following sample essay on “Elements Girl”: describing naturalism in literature using Maggie A Girl Of The Streets as example.
He then proceeds to describe the Orrville home life of Jimmies family. Immediately one begins to feel as though no good could come from a situation such as this. The gloomy theme continues as we begin to realize that both of his parents are alcoholics and abusive to their family. The shouting match that ensues after Jimmy is brought home ends in the father leaving to the bar only to return and fight with his mother.
Crane uses imagery as the fight proceeds, “howls and curses, groans and shrieks, confusingly in chorus as if a battle was raging”(Crane 963).
By this point in the readers have a grim outlook on the whole situation. To add to the chaos the baby of the family, Tommie, dies and is buried in “a white insignificant coffin” (964). When the main character Maggie is introduced a slight upswing takes place.
Maggie despite her surroundings is a beautiful young lady. She has a respectable Job as a seamstress and has at least a bit of hope. She then meets Pete, and Is Impressed with him and his lifestyle as a bartender.
She begins to make the apartment look more appealing In an attempt to Impress him and agrees to go out with Jimmy after he speaks highly of her. This Is to be the last optimistic glimmer Crane gives readers. True to naturalistic style of literature nothing good comes of this relationship.
Magpie’s mother eventually kicks Maggie out and Pete does the same which forces Maggie into prostitution and her eventual death. Her death is the completion of the somber story. Crane did not give the story any sort of a positive come, he wrote it Just as nature or life in this case happened.
The setting or environment is another key naturalistic element found in “Maggie”. In naturalistic writing the environment in which the characters live is what defines them. This Is the equivalent to animals in nature. Just as animals become arterial over their hunting grounds as a necessity for survival so do characters in Maggie. This Is a fundamental difference to other writing styles where characters learn and change despite their environment and not because of It. Crane begins chapter two with an image laden description of what had to be the New York Bowers.
Eventually teeny entered Into a ark region winner, Trot a careening Dulling, a cozen gruesome doorways gave up loads of babies to the street and the gutter…. Formidable women, with uncombed hair and disordered dress, gossiped while leaning on railings, or screamed in frantic quarrels…. Withered persons, in curious postures of submission to something, sat smoking pipes in obscure corners…. The building quivered and creaked from the weight of humanity(959). This vivid view of slum life shows the class people Magpie’s family belongs to.
They are born into poverty and have very little if any education. Children are raised in the streets and often fall victim to it, either by way of death, or by its cruel reality. The adults are merely an extension of their upbringing. One critic explains “The Bowers inhabitants, as we, can be nothing other than what they are; Their human nature responds inexorably to heir brutal environment”(Garnett 128). Both Maggie and Jimmy were abused both verbally and physically in almost every aspect of their environment, so inevitably they become molded by it.
Jimmy as an adult becomes hard and calloused and Maggie tries to find solace in Pete, who himself falls victim to their sordid environment. Materialistic determinism is yet another naturalistic element found in “Maggie”. Materialistic determinism is the idea that man’s fate is determined by per-existing circumstances rather than their own free will, particularly material things such as environment. Maggie begins to have visions of grandeur shortly after going out with Pete and began to yearn for nicer things. “She began to note, with more interest, the well dressed women she met on the avenues”(973).
Maggie desperately wanted out of the life that she was brought up in, but despite her efforts with Pete she is cast to the streets left to fend for herself. Now that she was banished from her home as well, she resorts to the pre determined life the streets have for her, prostitution. In an essay Charles Walcott explains “The impressions that these people are not free gents, and that their freedom is limited as much by their conventional beliefs as by their poverty, are naturalistic concepts completely absorbed into the form of the story'(Walcott 144).
This determinism can also be seen in Pete. He futilely attempts to be a part of higher society and ultimately finds himself a victim of a prostitute who uses him for his money. His fate was bound by his environment not by his choices. Naturalistic authors often had to do research into their subject matter to get such a true depiction of the way life was. Shortly before witting “Maggie” Crane did extensive research throughout the New York Bowers. He would immerse himself for days at a time disguised as a derelict to study and gather material (Calvert).
These first hand experiences allowed him to realistically portray the characters and environment. Many Critics view “Maggie” as the first American naturalist novelette. Throughout the story elements of naturalism are evident. Crane’s firsthand knowledge due to research allowed him to show the environment to which the characters were subjected to. These characters were in turn influenced by their environment and despite their aspirations were bound by naturalistic determinism. Thru and thru Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” is an excellent example of the literary movement naturalism.