Maggie & Sister Carrie

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Comparison: Maggie – Girl of the streets & Sister Carrie

Thesis:
Portrays of two naturalistic female characters Maggie and Sister Carrie
…..The escape of two women – failure or success?

Introduction:
I have chosen to have a look at Maggie – Girl of the Streets and Sister Carrie, to compare and see if_________(thesis).

Shortly about naturalism and naturalistic characters…:

- Naturalistic works exposed the dark harshness of life
- humans are “human beasts” (Emile Zola)
- Naturalists “studied human beings” as “ruled by their instincts and passions as well as the ways in which the characters’ lives were ruled by forces of heredity (erblichkeit) and environment” (Campbell).

Characters:
- Often poorly educated, lower class
- Controlled by forces of heredity, animalistic instinct, raw passion - Characters cannot control “the brute within”

Key themes:
- Survival (often survival in brutal nature), determinism, violence, social taboo, Social determinism - “Survival of the fittest”

Both Maggie and Sister Carrie represent canonical naturalistic novels written by male writers. They are lower class women trying to find a way to escape the environment surrounding them.

The stories of these women are complex but the women are portrayed in a very simple way (typical naturalistic character feature).

Shortly about Maggie:
Written by Stephen Crane in 1893.

Maggie is described as the “most rare and wonderful production of a tenement district, a pretty girl”SS, and as a “rose in a mudd puddle”SS (she being the rose and the environment/poverty being the mud surrounding her). She is a beautiful 16 year old girl who managed to stay pure in mind, dreaming her way to a better life. Untypical for naturalism.

Crane portrays Maggie as the face of poverty itself. During her childhood physical and mental abuse was everyday life. The conditions are devastating. Her alcoholic mother and father fight great wars....
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