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I have enjoyed these pieces that we have read in this time period. They were easier to understand and relate to. Realism and Naturalism writers wrote for the everyday person and their enjoyment. I have chosen two pieces of literature to examine. The first is Hedda Gabler by Henrik Isben. The second is Chickamauga by Ambrose Bierce.
In the Realism era, writers wrote for the middle class reader. The characteristics of Realism era were: particular subject matter, the here and now, character was more important than action and plot. In Isben's ,Hedda Gabler, I can see some of these characteristics. George and Hedda are newlyweds. Hedda and George have been on a six month honeymoon and she made the comment that she was not even interested. They live on the fashionable west side on Christiania. George is a history professor that has not secured his job at the local university. In society they are considered middle class. Hedda is a spoiled brat that is used to getting her way. George has tried really hard to give her the things that she has been accustomed to. Her father was well off and therefore she is expecting George to provide the same things. He gives her the house that she wants and that is not even good enough. Hedda is good at manipulating her husband and friends to get what she wants. That is not much different from today's society. People are never happy with what they have they are always wanting more. Everyone is trying to outdo the Jones'. I see people today that are very good at manipulating people to get what they want. As the reader, we are lead to believe that Hedda is expecting a baby. She states that she has no taste for things that "make a claim on her freedom."
In the Realism era they were focused on the character more than the action and plot. We see how Isben uses this in this piece. In Hedda Gabler every character is descriptively described. Isben puts emphasis on describing the character more than on the plot it's self. When you read Hedda Gabler you feel like you know the characters personally. I felt sorry for Aunt Julles. She had raised George and supported him since he was a small child. Aunt Julles continued to support George. She came to visit and Hedda treated her poorly. She was very important to George and Hedda showed her no respect.
The next piece that I chose to examine was in the Naturalism era. I chose Chickamauga by Ambrose Bierce. Naturalist focused on several elements in their writings. Several of those focus' are dark harshness of life, detachment from the story, objective, blunt, nameless characters, and common values of the ordinary individual.
We see the element of the dark harshness of life in Chickamauga. In this piece we see that the soldiers are very injured and dying. Bierce is obsessed with death. Death dominated his writings and his life. We see the grotesqueness of death in Chickamauga. When I read this short story I was grossed out. When the soldiers were crawling around on the ground with half of their faces blown off was gross. They were also crawling around with their limbs dangling. Bierce was a master of brevity in horror. He made death and horror not seem so bad.
Another element that Bierce used in this short story is the use of nameless characters. Bierce called the little boy an "it" and "little boy". He is not individualized but rather presented as "the child". As we discussed in class, Bierce wanted us to be annoyed with the little boy. He is playing with a toy sword. He does not see the serious of the situation that he is in. He was crawling on the backs of the wounded soldiers and was wondering around on the battlefield. It seemed like he just walked right into the path of harm. The little boy was lost. He had wondered away from his home and his mother was looking for him. He lay down and slept through the night. Bierce led us to believe that the little boy was stupid when in reality he was deaf. I did not like how Bierce portrayed the little boy. He was not stupid he was only deaf.
Naturalist used the technique of detachment from the story as an element of writing. We see this technique used in the little boy. He wanted us to feel detached from him and distanced. By calling him an "it" I felt distanced from the little boy's character. I could not feel sorry for someone that I could not connect with. I think that is why Bierce kept it a secret that the little boy was deaf until the end. He wanted us to feel detached and aggravated with the child.
I really enjoyed reading these two pieces of literature. I can relate to Hedda Gabler and the characters. You can find people in today's society just like the characters in Hedda Gabler. There is a Hedda in everyone's life. Someone that is willing to manipulate people so that they gain the benefit from it. There is also an Aunt Julle in everyone's life. She has given her life to support and take care of other people. She does not get the respect and admiration that she deserves. Then there is George. He is working trying to provide for his wife and she thinks it is not good enough. I see this so much in society today. There are so many people trying to live above their means. They are caught up in themselves too much to care about anyone else. I feel sorry for the little boy in Chickamauga. He was not being stupid and making bad choices. He just didn't know what was going on and was walking into harm's way with realizing what he was doing. He was deaf and lost therefore he was scared and could not communicate with the people around him. I really did enjoy reading these two pieces of literature.