Scientific detachment, determinism, pessimism, poverty and dismal conditions, and an indifferent or hostile temperament are five hallmarks of literary naturalism.
Scientific detachment is the opposite of realism which values experience over observation. Scientists strive to separate themselves from their subjects in order to make accurate observations and measurements. Writers using scientific detachment avoid presenting their characters' opinions and judgments about events as they observe them. They also refrain from revealing certain aspects of their characters' private lives for example, their emotions or the details of their personal relationships.
Naturalists believe that humanity's behavior can be explained by biology rather than psychology. They conclude that humans are inherently evil and corruptible and that all major institutions - such as religion, government, and business - are equally susceptible to corruption. Therefore, there is no hope for improvement of society because human nature is fixed.
Naturalists often criticize realists for being overly emotional about topics like love, hate, revenge, and heroism. They claim that reality is more boring than exciting and that most people are not willing to sacrifice their comfort for something greater than themselves. Thus, the only option left for writers is to document ordinary life with all its pain and confusion.
Characteristics of Naturalism
Naturalism is distinguished by a meticulous depiction of modern society, frequently featuring lower-class characters in an urban setting or a panoramic view of a slice of contemporary life; a deterministic philosophy emphasizing the effects of heredity and environment; and characters who act with heightened awareness. These qualities are evident in the work of authors such as William Dean Howells, Jack London, and John Steinbeck.
Naturalists often focus on underrepresented groups in American society, including women, minorities, the working class, and people with disabilities. They tend to reject idealized depictions of humanity in order to present a more accurate picture of human nature. For example, London's novels feature characters who suffer from alcoholism and other vices, which contributes to their social downfall. In contrast, the virtuous characters in his stories are mostly white men who are able to avoid suffering due to their privileged positions in society.
Some critics have accused naturalists of writing formulaic fiction that relies on clichéd characters, but this criticism does not apply to all naturalist writers. Henry James was one of the first critics to attack naturalism, calling it "the death of art." However, others have since praised its ability to capture reality without embellishment.
There are several reasons why naturalism became popular in America during the Gilded Age.
The following are some general features of naturalism: A study of humans that is objective rather than fanciful and escapism. A concept that a person's desires, heredity, and circumstances dominate him or her and that he or she is frequently submissive to the social environment of which he or she is a member. The idea that since nature can be studied scientifically, then culture can too.
Naturalism was a literary movement that existed from 1865 to 1900 and employed precise realism to argue that social factors, heredity, and the environment all had an inextricable influence on human character. Charles Darwin's evolution hypothesis impacted naturalistic authors. They wanted to know how humans developed over time so they looked to nature for answers - especially animals. Because scientists believed that humans are related to primates, many naturalists also studied ancient civilizations for evidence of evolutionary progress.
Naturalists used real-life examples to explain why some people are good at something and others are not. Some people are born with silver spoons in their mouths; others have to work hard for every penny they earn. Some people are just plain lucky; others take risks to achieve success. The main idea was that one's life circumstances often play a role in determining what career options are available to them and in some cases, what job they will be able to obtain. Authors such as Émile Zola and Henry James were particularly influential during this time period.
Naturalism is different from other literary movements because it focused on describing actual events instead of imagining things that didn't happen. For example, Jules Verne imagined humans traveling to the moon and back before anyone else, but he wasn't concerned with accurately representing how this might actually be accomplished.