Elements of Maggie (the First Two Chapters)

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Elements of Maggie (the first two chapters)

Stephen Crane’s first novel Maggie (girl of the streets) is a tale of uncompromising realism. The story chronicles the titular Maggie, a girl who lives in the Bowery with her emotionally abusive parents and brothers Jimmie and Tommy. The novel revolves around the trials and tribulations of Maggie and her family in the Bowery. Highlights of the story include the death of Maggie’s father and brother Tommie which drive Pete to turn into a cold and hard person by novels end. Maggie desperately tries to escape bowery life, but in the end Maggie succumbs to the Bowery and dies a broken woman. Crane is considered a Naturalist, and in Crane’s naturalist world no one escapes their biological chains. Maggie’s parents are both unfit parents: they are emotionally and physically abusive, and have alcoholic tendencies. Despite Maggie’s and (to a lesser extent) Jimmie’s longings to escape the bleak world of the bowery they do not. Crane is making a statement on the adverse effects of industrialization and urbanization with the novel. Industrialization and urbanization on the surface create jobs and strengthen business, but upon further examination it disenfranchises the very people it promises to help. Many of the families in the bowery are immigrant families who become wage slaves. Maggie’s family is no different; because of their dependency on big business they have become disenfranchised and incapable of growth. This idea of being set into a world where there is no escape from one's biological heredity that Crane showcases the in the novel is mirrors Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory. According to Darwin only the biologically strong would survive in the world, with the weaker specimens expiring. In Crane’s novel the people are not inherently weak; it is the environment that shapes them and prevents them from growing. Ultimately, all of the characters in Maggie are victims of the Bowery life.

Crane utilizes a unique...
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