Blida Department of English: Free Stand to Stand Free
Hello dear mate, we'll be pleased to have you joining our community, so would you please register. You have to identify yourself to admin or to the moderators to be able to join the hidden group where you can see all the forum material.
Blida Department of English: Free Stand to Stand Free
Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.

Sister Carrie

Go down

Sister Carrie Empty Sister Carrie

Post by chinda on Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:55 pm

On Naturalism in Sister Carrie

Naturalism, a literary mode developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is an extreme form of realism. Both realism and naturalism try to portray real life, but naturalism is based more on scientific studies. The naturalists portray people and events objectively and precisely without idealizing them. They view people as part of the animal world. The characters in naturalistic writings are always victims of external forces and internal drives without control or full knowledge of them.
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) was one of the American’s greatest naturalist writers. Dreiser strictly obeyed the basic principles of naturalism. He attached great importance to objectivity, frankness and reality in his writing and placed much stress on the decisive role of heredity, desire, destiny, chance, economy and environment. His sinful characters always rose to fame and power in society without remorse or punishment. This attitude shocked the genteel public greatly. With the publication of Sister Carrie in 1900, Dreiser committed his literary force to opening the new ground of American naturalism.
In Sister Carrie, Dreiser touches upon a wide range of themes —America dream, competition, immorality, identity, sex, struggle, materialism, wealth and poverty. Among them, naturalistic themes such as immorality and sex permeate this novel, which unfolds an immoral world. Dreiser makes no moral judgments on his characters’ actions. He writes about infidelity and prostitution as natural occurrences in daily life.
Caroline Meeber, known as Carrie, is a pretty, poor country girl. She leaves her home at the age of eighteen to seek a better life in Chicago. On the train, she meets Charles Drouet who is a traveling salesman. She soon becomes interested in him due to his fine clothing and manners. We can see Carrie is a girl of great desire. She uses sex to gain wealth and status for herself. In order to live a decent life, she lives with Drouet and becomes his “kept girl”. Later, Carrie sees that Hurstwood can offer her an even higher standard of living. Regardless of Drouet’s feeling and the fact that Hurstwood is already married, she breaks off with Drouet and gets “married” with Hurstwood. After living with Hurstwood for some time, she realizes she can no longer benefit from this man and leaves him, too. This is immoral in the eye of the traditional morality defender, and she should be severely punished. But on the contrary, she climbs up the social ladder smoothly and becomes a famous actress in the end.
In addition to this novel’s naturalistic theme of immorality and sexual impropriety, Dreiser presents the dim side of life that many Americans are not willing to acknowledge. Hence, when this novel was finished in 1900, publishers refused to publish it. The critical disturbance brought by Sister Carrie is a typical representation of the disturbance caused by naturalistic literature. It is the embodiment of the problems naturalistic literature brings to readers.
Theodore Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie is an example of a naturalist text because it integrates the ideas behind the American literary realism movement, particularly in terms of precise descriptions and rational observations, yet also contains elements that make the reader understand that characters are simply the products of environment and outside influences. It should also be stated that the urban landscape marks a departure from traditional realists texts and this urban “sea” of humanity forms the basis for the actions of both the protagonist as well as her society as a whole. Capitalism in "Sister Carrie" by Dreiser and the desire to consume is the driving force and desire becomes more important that genuine sentiment. In this novel, characters change in class status and are constantly at risk of being lost in the sea of the urban landscape. These elements define Sister Carrie and the naturalist movement as a whole.

Although Sister Carrie is a text with groundings in the conventions of realism, there is an interesting shift towards naturalism. This shift is most visible when the narrator gives the reader insights into characters and it becomes clear that they are creatures not only of the natural world, but also of the environment. More specifically, this environment is one of capitalism, of urban landscapes, and class differences. It is no longer feasible for Dreiser, to depict the world as the merely as the realists before him did, he obviously recognizes the forces of the marketplace that not only shape existence, but also in fact create it. One of the most visible differences between the world depicted by the writers of realist texts and that of Dreiser is that he is keenly aware of urbanization and views the city as a sort of new natural landscape to set his characters in.

For example, in one of the most important quotes from Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, the narrator states, “We see man far removed from the lairs of the jungles, his innate instincts dulled by too near an approach to freewill, his freewill not sufficiently developed to replace his instincts and afford him perfect guidance. He is becoming too wise to hearken always to instincts and desires; he is still too weak to always prevail against them” (61). It is no longer appropriate for Dreiser to rely strictly on the conventions of realism. Instead, in this, one of the important quotes from "Sister Carrie" by Theodore Dreiser he has to take it one step further and speak of freewill and desire. Here, freewill and desire are not matters of nature or feeling, but are rather symptoms of the environment. It is this emphasis on characters being shaped by their surroundings that defines this text as a naturalist versus realist text. The distinction is subtle and at times the lines between the two are dulled, but it clear that the focus is not necessarily how the individual responds in a natural way to surroundings, but more so how the environment shapes perception and even reality.

Many of the central characters in Sister Carrie are acting according to the capitalist pressures in their urban society. It should be noted that one of the main features of naturalism is that it is usually set in an urban landscape. Through such a setting, the characters are often compared to elements of the sea, mostly in the sense that are just tiny “wisps” in a sea that is vast beyond comprehension. This sea is not only representative of the swarms of people, but of forces stronger than man, in this case capitalism. It is inescapable and all the lives of the characters revolve around either the acquisition of money or the blatant showing off of it. In such a world, feelings are emotions are secondary to the tide of rampant capitalism and there is always another opportunity in the sea of people. It should be noted that Carrie is moved along with the tide through a short series of relationships, none of them lasting, everything always changing. It is almost against her will, but if one views the sea image as the “tide of capitalism” then it is clear she is merely following the promise of material comfort and not love. It is thus also remarkable that Sister Carrie, despite its frequent scenes featuring lovers, is hardly a love story. It is rather a tale about the loss of innocence and the giving up of one’s mind to the powerful sea of capitalist forces and selfish desires.

Money and capital are responsible for the actions of humans rather than the more “pure” forces that regulated the lives of characters in realist texts. Consider, for example, the idea presented by the narrator that, as stated in one of the meaningful quotations from "Sister Carrie" by Theodore Dreiser, “A man’s fortune or material progress is very much the same as his bodily growth. Either he is growing stronger, healthier, wiser, as the youth approaching manhood, or he is growing weaker, older, les incisive mentally, as the man approaching old age. There are no other states” (259). It could not be put in a more concise way—clearly human nature is no longer molded by the forces of love, feeling, or even rationality or reason. Instead of being shaped by nature and being able to describe characters with microscopic precision, this becomes unnecessary when the reader knows the motivation. A man is shaped by capitalism, the need to consume and all other impulses become secondary.

Metaphorically speaking, whereas realist text might have tended to focus on the jungle, Sister Carrie, as an example of naturalism, concentrates on the sea. In other words, the jungle for the realist novel would represent man in his primitive state, acting on natural desires and impulses that were generally the result of emotion or other “pure” persuasion. The jungle represents man as an individual, man surviving in a world that might not be suited to his best intentions. With realism, every detail could be described with perfect accuracy, everything reasoned out and the character would be inclined to act according to a sort of internal reasoning. With Sister Carrie, however, the sea is the object of interest. In this case, the sea represents the sea of people that crowd together in urban areas. Unlike the jungle, this is a massive place where one could lose the way or become drowned quite easily. In the sea, one must stand out because there are so many other fish swimming, mostly with the current, in an effort to shine. While this might be a dramatic and slightly abstract concept, put quite simply, the difference between the jungle and the sea is that the desires are quite different. In the jungle, it is an individual struggle close to the natural world. In the sea, however, there is simply the struggle to stay afloat and not get lost.



chinda
chinda

Number of posts : 397
Age : 120
Location : Starland
Registration date : 2009-11-03

Back to top Go down

Sister Carrie Empty Re: Sister Carrie

Post by MrL on Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:49 pm

Thanks a lot dear chinda
MrL
MrL

Number of posts : 62
Age : 30
Registration date : 2010-05-21

Back to top Go down

Sister Carrie Empty Re: Sister Carrie

Post by zozo on Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:14 pm

thanksalot

zozo

Number of posts : 2
Age : 32
Location : berrouaghia
Registration date : 2010-10-06

Back to top Go down

Sister Carrie Empty Re: Sister Carrie

Post by zozo on Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:15 pm

really iam goig to pass majester examso i need help

zozo

Number of posts : 2
Age : 32
Location : berrouaghia
Registration date : 2010-10-06

Back to top Go down

Sister Carrie Empty Re: Sister Carrie

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum