Stephen Crane Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
Stephen Crane • Born November 1, 1871 in Newark, NJ • 14th child of a Methodist minister • Started to write stories at the age of eight • at 16 he was writing articles for the New York Tribune • After high school, spent 1 semester at Lafayette College and another at Syracuse University- was asked to leave
1891- Moved to New York as a free-lance writer and journalist. • 1893- lived among the poor in the Bowery slums of New York to research his first novel, Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets • 1895- second novel, The Red Badge Of Courage brought him international fame • Crane's collection of poems, The Black Rider, also appeared in 1895, brought Crane better reporting assignments as a war correspondent in combat areas • 1898- Crane settled in Sussex, England • June 5, 1900- Crane died of tuberculosis
In Maggie: a Girl of the Streets , Crane utilizes. . . Realism, Naturalism & Impressionism
REALISM • is a literary movement that began during the 1870’s that was prompted by the Civil War • renders reality in comprehensive detail, depicts life as it really is • provides extremely detailed descriptions of “ordinary people” • avoids the sensational, dramatic elements of naturalistic novels and romances. • displays a pessimistic view of the world
In REALISM . . . • Character is more important than action and plot; complex ethical choices are often the subject. • Diction is natural vernacular, not heightened or poetic; tone may be comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact. • Objectivity in presentation becomes increasingly important: overt authorial comments or intrusions diminish as the century progresses.
Naturalism • the whole picture is somber and dark • the general tone is one of hopelessness and even despair. • is a more deliberate kind of realism in novels, stories, and plays, usually involving a view of human being as passive victims of natural forces and environment. • typically illustrates the helplessness of man, his insignificance in a cold world and his lack of dignity. • is concerned with the less elegant aspects of life • has settings that are the slums, the sweatshops, the factories and the farm • represents the life of the lower class truthfully • highlights forbidden regions as violence, sex and death
Impressionism • the selection of a few details to convey the sense impressions left by a scene or incident • characters, scenes, or actions are portrayed from an objective point of view of reality • great precision in the use of language to illustrate the transitory, vague, complex, and subjective impressions based on experiences • an example would be of using color to give bits and pieces of the scene - in his landmark novel, 'The Red Badge of Courage', Stephen Crane Crane gives us the sense and mood of the battle, without the technical details
Impressionism • The term ‘Impressionism’ comes from the school of mid-nineteenth century French painting, which was in reaction to the academic style of the day. • The Impressionists, as they called themselves, made the act of perception the key for the understanding of the structure of reality. • They developed a technique by which objects were not seen as solids but as fragments of color which the spectator’s eye unified. • The basic premise involved was that “truth” lay in the mental processes, not in the precise representation of external reality.
Details/Diction: • Every sentence, Crane manages to analyze and refer to human nature as a cause of the characters’ actions • Crane uses powerful and beautiful diction to describe his characters not through imagery, but through their possessions and actions. • “His hat was tipped over his eye with an air of challenge. Between his teeth a cigar stump was tilted at the angle of defiance.” • “Withered persons, in curious postures of submission to something, sat smoking pipes in obscure corners.” • “Maggie, with side glances of fear of interruption, ate like a small pursued tigress… Jimmie sat nursing his various wounds. He cast furtive glances at his mother. His practiced eye perceived her gradually emerge from a mist of muddled sentiment until her brain burned in drunken heat. He sat breathless.” • “A reader of the words of wind demons might have been able to see the portions of a dialogue pass to and fro between the exhorter and his hearers. • “You are damned,” said the preacher. And the reader of sounds might have seen the reply go forth from the ragged people: “Where's our soup?”
Imagery: • Crane uses colors a lot to symbolize certain emotions • He often plays upon the contrast of colors to set up a desperate situation • “Eventually they entered a dark region where, from a careening building, a dozen gruesome doorways gave up loads of babies to the street and the gutter. A wind of early autumn raised yellow dust from cobbles and swirled it against a hundred windows.” • “Her yellow brows shaded eyelids that had grown blue.” • Transition – both physical and metaphorical exposes the tragedy of the situation • “Jimmy’s occupation for a long time was to stand on street corners and watch the world go by, dreaming blood-reddreams at the passing of pretty women.” • Symbolic of his past abuses projected upon society • “She received a stool and a machine in a room where sat twenty girls of various shades of yellow discontent.”