“A Mystery of Heroism” By Stephen Crane
Stephen Crane • Associated with the Naturalist movement • First work “published” in 1893 • Maggie: A Girl of the Streets • The Red Badge of Courage (1895) • A novel about the Civil War told through the point of view of a young private. The highlight of his literary career.
Stephen Crane CONTD. • Following the success of The Red Badge of Courage, Crane wrote a series of sketches about battles in the Civil War. • “A Mystery of Heroism” appeared in The Little Regiment and Other Episodes of the American Civil War in 1896.
“A Mystery of Heroism” Set on a battlefield, this short story focuses on Fred Collins, a Union soldier.
What is Naturalism? • Approaching literature and life scientifically • The writer must study the world around him or her, including … • Inherited traits of individuals • Social conditions of the time • As a result, their worldview was not very bright.
Naturalism and Free Will • Naturalist writers believed that free will or self-determination is mostly an illusion. • That means you have little to NO control over your actions or your fate and that your environment controls everything.
Naturalism and Literature • Naturalistic writers used a version of the scientific method to write their novels. • They studied human beings governed by their instincts and passions as well as the ways in which the characters' lives were governed by forces of heredity and environment. http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/natural.htm
Themes in Naturalism • The "brute within" each individual • Humans are closer to the animal kingdom than we may think. • The fight for survival in an amoral, indifferent universe • Nature has no morals; humans do. • Conflict: man vs. nature and man vs. himself • Nature as an indifferent force acting on the lives of human beings. • Nature doesn’t “care” about us.
Forces Beyond Our Control As you read, consider how these forces affect Fred Collins.
“Greetings from Stephen Crane” • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlQ36mhXAJc
Review! What is Naturalism? • Naturalism: nineteenth-century literary movement that was an extension of realism and that claimed to portray life exactly as if it were being examined through a scientist’s microscope. Naturalists relied heavily on the new field of psychology, biology, and sociology to explain human behavior. (Often includes an amoral and indifferent world, animal imagery, insanity, deterministic outcomes, etc.
Three Types of Irony • situational irony: the difference between what you expect will happen and what actually happens • For example, when the birthday girl cries at her party. • verbal irony: the contrast between what is said and what is meant. • For example, calling a bald man “curly.” • dramatic irony: the contrast between what the characters know and what the reader or audience knows. • For example, when the reader knows the character will die at the end of the story but the character does not know.
“War is Kind” (1899) Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,Because your lover threw wild hands toward the skyAnd the affrighted steed ran on alone,Do not weep.War is kind.Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,Little souls who thirst for fight,These men were born to drill and die.The unexplained glory flies above them.Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom--A field where a thousand corpses lie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTxc0VNOVes
“War is Kind” (1899) Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,Raged at his breast, gulped and died,Do not weep.War is kind.Swift blazing flag of the regiment,Eagle with crest of red and gold,These men were born to drill and die.Point for them the virtue of slaughter,Make plain to them the excellence of killingAnd a field where a thousand corpses lie.
“War is Kind” (1899) Mother whose heart hung humble as a buttonOn the bright splendid shroud of your son,Do not weep.War is kind! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZGf-LDqMUA&NR=1