The Essence of Naturalism in Literature: a Reflection of Life’s Realities

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Updated: Nov 24, 2023
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The trend of naturalism in writing, which began in the late 1800s, is a big step forward in the way stories are told and how they are told. Naturalism is a harsh and often negative view of life based on the idea that environment, genetics, and social factors have a big effect on how people act. This article talks about what naturalism is in literature, where it came from, its most important works, and how it has changed the way writers express themselves.

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In the 1800s, new scientific ideas and philosophy views, like Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and Auguste Comte’s positivism, had a big impact on the development of naturalism. These ideas went against what most people thought about human nature and fate. They saw people not as free willed beings but as products of their biology and surroundings. Emile Zola, who is often called the “father of naturalism,” was a big part of bringing these science ideas into writing. He thought that a writer could study people’s actions with the same level of detail that scientists study natural events.

When it comes to writing, realism means focusing on everyday events and situations, usually those from the lower and middle classes. It shows the harsher sides of life and how people fight in a world that doesn’t care about them. In naturalist writing, the characters are often helpless against their surroundings and things they can’t change, like social pressures, hard times financially, or their own natural urges.

The focus on reality is one of the most important parts of naturalism. Naturalist writers try to give accurate, thorough accounts of the outside world. Many times, they talk about the bad things in life, like poverty, racism, violence, and illness, and do so in a straightforward way. This harsh realism brings out the inevitable theory at the heart of naturalism: the idea that people are limited in their free will and are bound by their surroundings.

Émile Zola’s “Germinal,” which is about coal workers in France in the 1800s, and Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie,” which is about a young woman’s problems in industrial America, are two of the most important naturalist works. These works show how naturalism looks at how the world and society affect people’s lives. Naturalistic writing is what makes writers like Stephen Crane and Jack London stand out in American fiction. “To Build a Fire” by London and “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” by Crane are two great examples of naturalism’s description of people struggling against powerful and often unbeatable natural forces.

Naturalism also brought about a change in the way stories were told. A more distant, almost journalistic style of writing was common among naturalist writers. They didn’t moralize or try to control the readers’ emotions when they wrote about their characters’ thoughts and actions. This style is different from the moralizing and subjective writing that was common in earlier literary groups.

Naturalism had an effect on writing and other art forms that are still popular today. The idea of fate, the focus on the environment, and the stress on reality set the tone for modern writing trends. Naturalism pushed writers to think more deeply about the world around them and make their writing more true to life.

In the end, naturalism in writing was a major trend that changed how stories are told and how people understand them. Naturalism gives a clear picture of what it’s like to be human by putting more weight on the forces of nature, society, and inner drives than on free will. Its influence can be seen in how much people still value realistic stories and how authors today explore difficult social and environmental problems. The main idea behind Naturalism is that writing has the power to show how complicated life is and how honest people are.

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The Essence of Naturalism in Literature: A Reflection of Life’s Realities. (2023, Nov 24). Retrieved from