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The (Dysfunctional) Family Unit:. Realism and Naturalism in the wake of Darwin, Freud, and Marx. Realism: 1865-1900. Develops as a reaction to Romanticism Truthful treatment of material Twain, Howells (smiling realism)

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the dysfunctional family unit

The (Dysfunctional) Family Unit:

Realism and Naturalism in the wake of Darwin, Freud, and Marx

realism 1865 1900
Realism: 1865-1900
  • Develops as a reaction to Romanticism
  • Truthful treatment of material
  • Twain, Howells (smiling realism)
  • Growing skepticism after Civil War, industrialization, manifest destiny, science, photography, journalism
  • Truth = verifiable by experience
realism cont
Realism cont.
  • Material = commonplace, average, everyday, local color, dialect, specific actions and consequences, ordinary people, believable situations
  • Concern with effect on reader and development of character over plot
  • Central issues of life/conduct
  • Complex ethical choices (Huck)
naturalism 1890s wwi
Naturalism: 1890s-WWI
  • Extreme realism
  • Application of scientific determinism to fiction
  • Philosophical rather than literary
  • Characters studied through their relationship to environment
  • Man=Helpless victim in uncaring universe
influences on american naturalism
Influences on American Naturalism
  • French writer and founder of Naturalist movement Emile Zola 1880s and his idea of “human beasts”
  • French psychologist Claude Bernard’s medical model
  • Joseph LeConte’s influence of sociology on perception (birth order, prejudice)
  • Sir Isaac Newton’s observable laws of motion/physics

Émile Zola by


influences on american naturalism cont
Influences on American Naturalism cont.
  • Karl Marx’s economic theory of the effects of materialism on man
  • Sigmund Freud’s theory of subconscious behavior, causes actions beyond our control
  • Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, genetics
definition of naturalism
Definition of Naturalism
  • Human beings as products studied impartially without moralizing
  • Laws behind forces governing human lives can be studied and understood using scientific method
  • Conditioned/controlled responses: instinct, passion, heredity, chance, environment
  • Pessimistic, materialistic determinism
components of naturalism
Components of Naturalism
  • Survival=applying determinism to biological competition, supreme motive in animal life, fastens man to physical roots
  • Determinism=natural law and socio-economic influences more powerful than will
  • Violence=survival depends on force against force
  • Taboo=improper topics such as sex, disease, bodily functions, obscenity, depravity, graphic situations
forms of naturalism
Forms of Naturalism
  • Chronicle of Despair=tired protagonist trudging through life
  • Clinical=step-by-step tracing of disease as it destroys the individual
  • Panoramic=forces operate through whole body of society
  • Slice of Life=minute, faithful reproductions of bits of reality
  • Stream of Consciousness= smallest detail of thought
character traits
Character Traits
  • Ill-educated, lower class
  • Lives governed by heredity, instinct, passion
  • Attempts to exercise free will hampered by forces beyond their control
  • Social Darwinism
  • Urban setting
  • “Brute within” = warring emotions, passion, lust greed, dominance, pleasure
  • Fight for survival in amoral, indifferent universe
  • Man v. Nature or Man v. Self
  • Nature=indifferent force acting on their lives (Calvinistic, Predestination without religion)
  • Forces of heredity and environment affect and afflict
  • Indifferent, deterministic universe