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Naturalism in Maggie, Girl of the Streets

A research paper on Maggie, A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane will give four instances of typically naturalistic treatments of human behavior as they occur in Stephen Crane’s story Maggie, A Girl of the Streets.

Naturalism in Maggie, Girl of the Streets
  1. Naturalism emphasized biological and/or sociological determinism and viewed the behavior of people as being conditioned by forces outside their control. 
  2. There is a kind of naturalist manifesto in the description of Jimmie’s development near the beginning of chapter four. The naturalist prides himself on facing this unpalatable truth. There were two types of literary naturalist—the one oriented towards a biological survival model for human behavior, the other oriented towards a social forces model for human behavior.  Crane was mainly of the latter type, but this passage shows him to have had room for the former as well.
  3. The economic and social forces at work cannot be resisted.  Maggie is doomed because she has no free will.  Her fate is determined, solely determined, by overwhelming forces beyond her control.  This is the social forces model of naturalism appearing in Crane’s story.
  4. One of the social forces that ruins Maggie causes her to be infatuated with Pete.  She is a creature of Rum Alley and therefore has no opportunity to acquire any sophistication about the world.  No amount of struggle on her part can prevail against the evil world that surrounds her because that same world has rendered her incapable of knowing what it is she should be struggling against.

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