Sister Carrie From The Perspective Of Naturalism

5535 words (22 pages) Essay

2nd May 2017 English Literature Reference this

Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a university student. This is not an example of the work produced by our Essay Writing Service. You can view samples of our professional work here.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

At the beginning, it’s of importance to define what naturalism is. As a matter of fact, that’s a troublesome question, for there are various opinions and consistent debates about it. In my paper, I tend to define naturalism as a special creative current of thought which emerged in 1890s and came to a dominant position in 1900s in Europe and America. It originated in France in 1850s, represented by Zola. As the most influential naturalistic writer in Europe, Zola declared in his famous The Experimental Novel that he wrote about life as it was lived in slums, that is, he aimed to present a true-to-life picture in front of his reader. This bolder way to describe realities soon caught the attention of many young writers in America who found that Howells an realism was to fennel and restrained to depict the sordid facts in America society and discovered in Zola an effective and new way to describe the hideous side of America life. Against such a literary background, naturalism came into being in America. It is characterized by its great emphasis on fidelity and truthfulness in the writing process, the starkest advocating of environment and heredity as those important deterministic forces shaping the fates of individuals, the amoral attitude towards the materials, pessimistic determinism, as well as its stress on the animal side of human nature. The whole picture depicted in naturalistic woks is dark and solemn, and the general tone is helpless and pessimistic. Writers belongs to this genre, like Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser, tend to depict with faithfulness and objectivity the insignificance of human beings in a cold, indifferent jungle-like circumstance, the inscrutable chances imposed upon man’s fate, the brutalizing and crushing forces of environment and heredity. The characters in their writing are insect-like animals, devoid of moral consciousness, which are subjected to the mighty and inscrutable forces-especially these of circumstance and innate temperament.[1] Among those naturalistic works, Dreiser’s Sister Carrie is well known as the one in which naturalism attained maturity in America.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Find out more

This thesis taking Sister Carrie as an example, attempts to study it from naturalistic point of view and explain how environmental factors and heredity factors influence the hero and heroine’s fate. Besides that, since it’s well understood that naturalism has several limitations, the thesis aims to discuss naturalism in Sister Carrie with critical eyes, criticizing pessimistic determinism and the concept of human beast as reflected in the novel. And states briefly the realistic significance of the paper that is under nowadays market economic opportunities and fashionable, glamorous urban life, they move from the underdeveloped regions to the prosperous metropolis. Some of them are led by their insatiable desir for material goods on turn to dishonest, illegl ways. They pessimistically complain about the deterministic effect of degrading environmental and humiliating hereditary factors upon their fates, and blam the amoral, indifferent attitude the society takes on their moral degradation. In fact one should not be so pessimistic: all of people must dignity and self-confidence and fight against for changing the adverse environmental factors and hereditary factors. Therefore, everybody can be a new man and the master of one’s fate.

2. Naturalistic Environmental Factor for Carrie

One outstanding feature of naturalism is its stress on the influence of environment upon man’s fate. According to naturalism, man is a helpless pawn, at the mercy of the surrounding. For instance, in Janie Gerhardt, a novel written in 1911 and wildly considered as the twin sister of Sister Carrie, Dreiser has his wealthy and seemingly impregnable hero-Lester declare those words, “all of us are more or less pawns. We’re moved about like chessman by circumstance over which we have no control”. [2] This famous pronouncement is often regarded as the philosophical center of naturalism, describing the deterministic effect of environmental factors. Most naturalistic novels depict in detail the crushing effect of environment upon individuals. However, in Sister Carrie, the environment, instead of crushing Carrie down, even contributes to her rise.

2.1 The Living Environmental Factors-Luring Metropolises

Naturalism attaches great emphasis on one’s living environment, believing that one’s living environment influences one’s fate enormously. Therefore, the paper starts with discussing the crucial role played by metropolis in Carrie’s rising journey.

Metropolises, with their glittering theatres, imposing hotels and sumptuous restaurants, together with the wealthy in their fashionable apparel, represent the walled and glided city to which Carrie seeks entrance. Described as the “Elf–land”, “dream land”, or “the kingdom of greatness”[3] in the novel, they have been luring a huge number of dream-makers to pour in by promising to satisfy those dreamers, every desire for wealth, for status, for influence. Carrie is just one of them. Living in the entrancing city, a materialist in the core, she can’t escape the consistent seduction from the superhuman tempter, and is lead in consistent pursuit of her unquenchable desire for perfect happiness. On the other hand, metropolises are indeed the natural and idealized habitats for Carrie, for only in those amusing and magnetizing critics can she satisfy at least temporarily her insatiable desire for pleasure and display her special theatrical talent. To be sure, big cities, such as Chicago and New York, offer the needed environment for Carrie’s rise.

Chicago is the first city that forms a suitable living environment, necessary for Carrie’s rise. At the time when the novel was written, it was the vibrant center of business, where the promise of fortunes to be made hung in the air. To these green hands and the rustic, the big city is a shimmering mirage of, promising not only economic opportunities but also a glamorous, exciting, and comfortable social life. However, this is just one side of the city. The other side of it is a rather and indifferent place, a merciless jungle-like industrial society.

Carrie is a bright and beautiful girl of eighteen years old. She is eager to enjoy various pleasures in the life, especially ambitious to gain material well being. She looks forward to Chicago with mixed feelings of ignorance and youthful expectancy. Dreiser depicts her as “a half-equipped little knight “,[4] who ventures to reconnoiter the mysterious city and dreams “wild dreams of some vague, far-off supremacy, which should make it prey and subject-the proper penitent, groveling at a woman’s slipper”[5]. At the very beginning, Carrie dreams wildly that she can again fame and fortune and take the big city in her control. But the reality turns out to be quite the contrary. Instead of playing the role of the conqueror of the city, man has been moving about in the jungle-like city like driftwood caught in the ocean’s side. The imagery of the over whelming sea, another important symbol, serves as an indispensable part of the jungle picture ,and like the symbol of the prairie, reminds us of the cruel jungle struggle for existence.

According to principles in naturalism, man is subject to the environment he lives in. Under the pervasive influence of the city’s hypnotic power, it’s natural for one to fall as an easy prey to the captivating night in the city. It’s in the metropolis, with its unbounded material commodities and numerous entertaining ways that the desire for material goods, for immediate pleasure provides man with the strongest impulse to act, as Carrie does in the novel.

New York is another important living environment which is instrumental in Carrie material rise. As an imperial metropolis, it is the origin of all wealth, power and fame, where the mysteries and possibilities of mystification are infinite. Dreiser opens Chapter30. “The kingdom of Greatness….the Pilgrim a Dream” [6] with a brief discussion of the specific atmosphere created by the ultimate metropolis. The high and mighty atmosphere in New York is like a chemical substance: staying in the atmosphere for one day will completely affect and discolor one’s point of view and one’s desire which will thereafter remain forever dyed. One day of it to the never tried mind is equated with opium to the non-smoker. As a more powerful superhuman tempter, New York’s dreams are more destructive because they are more remote and unattainable than Chicago’s. New York is a place which seems to promise wealth and fame for those fortunate new comers, like Carrie. This side of the city is irresistible, while the other side of the city is rather sordid place which bases everything on money, appearance, and reputation. It’s in such a mighty atmosphere that provides the proper environment for Carrie’s success.

Taking two great metropolises for example, this part discuss the effect of Chicago’s hypnotic power and entrancing night and New York’s mighty atmosphere upon Carrie fate: they incessantly lure her and awake her unquenchable urban life. What’s more, the showy theater, as the most irresistible attraction for her in the city, not only symbolizes her dreamland and serves as a source of her happiness but also provides her with an excellent place to display her talent and makes her rise to material well being. In a word, the luring metropolis provides Carrie with a suitable living environment, for only in metropolis can she satisfy at least temporarily her unquenchable desire for material goods and entertainment, as well as display her performing talent.

2.2 The Social Environmental Factors-Association with a Group of Human Tempters

Environmental factors also contain influence from one’s social association. Zola has pointed out that man is not an isolated creature; he lives in a society, thus the social environment, like the living environment, also plays decisive role in one’s fate. In other words, the omnipresent social environment definitely influences one’s value system and stimulates one to pursue a certain kind of success. For instance, Carrie’s association with a group of materialists helps her to adapt to the cosmopolitan environment quickly and has her unquenchable desire for wealth, for fame further stirred up.

First, instructions on clothes and manners acquired from of a traveling salesman, arousing Carrie’s desire by whispering besides her ear like the evil serpent in the Garden of Eden. He describes the big city as a vast department store with numerous fascinating goods, and his own appearance affects Carrie as a kind of advertisement: the swollen purse, the shiny tan shoes, the smart suit, and the air with which he does things, build up for her a dim world of wealth, of which he is the center. On the train to Chicago, Carrie is immediately attracted by the drummer’s dashing attire and elegant appearance, which causes her to study her own and is acutely conscious of the deficiency of her own clothes: the shabbiness of the dress and the worn state of her shoes. Bear in mind, Carrie’s keen interest in attractive clothes and the deficiency of her own is an integral and indispensable part of the future outcome of the novel. Much of her story is presented in terms of the clothes she acquires. Clothes, usually considered as an index of taste and social position, for Carrie, have turned into a naive but urging desire for that which is elegant and pleasing in life. They also constitute a well-understand language of society, which indicates clearly one’s status and wealth. To learn this language well, she becomes a willing student of her lover Drouet.

As a dandy salesman alert to any distinctions in dress, Drouet regards good clothes as the first essential thing, things without which he is nothing. Living together influenced by Drouet’s philosophy about clothes. Besides instructing Carrie in terms of clothes, Drouet also voluntarily assumes the role of he mentor in manners, and above all, make her aware of herself as an attractive woman. After a long time, she has become a girl of considerable tastes. Therefore when Hurstwood meets Carrie in her flat with Drouet, he finds a pretty, graceful young lady who is much more refined than the provincial Carrie to whom Drouet has first spoken on the train. Hurstwood immediately develops an interest in Carrie, at the same time;[7] she once again falls as an easy prey to Hurstwood’s rich apparel and ingratiating manner. She can’t help but secretly compare those little details, such as the dull shine of Hurstwood’s shiny patent leather shoes, and she prefers the soft rich leather. This little episode indicates that Carrie has already grasped the class language of clothes.

In the metropolis, clothes and manners are signs of wealth, power, and status, and gradually Carrie grows more and more fluent in the city’s language. To put it short, her association with the dandy salesman improves her taste and instructs her to adapt to the metropolitan environment.

Summary, Carrie’s lovers and neighbors in the metropolis who work as the representatives for the seductive social environment change her from an innocent country girl into a smart and experienced city beauty. The association forms a needed social environment, which not only stimulates consistently but insatiable desire for a higher material enjoyment, but also consciously and unconsciously helps her to adapt to the metropolis-her idea habitat.

2.3 Mysterious Manipulation of Chances

Therefore Dreiser was once a strenuous student in reading woks written by Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, Balzac, and Hardy, from whom he comes to formulate his own philosophy, that is, man is merely a lonely atom like substance drown or blown here and there by mighty and mysterious forces which are absolutely beyond his control. He formulates his beliefs that human morality and motivation are based on physiological and sociological desires and that the only discernible laws are those of chance and chance. He further widens his knowledge on one’s fate by accepting Spencer’s Principle of Unknowable: Life is desolate inexplicable, incredibly accidental-luck or disaster, and the rise and fall of individual is subject to the inscrutable, natural forces out of man’s control. From Balzac, Dreiser finds more sympathy on the working of inscrutable chances, for Balzac declares in his works that those grasping, greedy people’s fate are determined by the dice of chance: some, through a stroke of fortune, rise above the average, While the others, beaten by devastating chance, fall, but all are hungry for the same glittering prizes in life-wealth, fame and position. Here the dice of chance is manipulating in great effect by shaping the inevitable rise of Carrie in the big cities.

In short, Carrie’s success is, to a great extent, due to the inscrutable manipulation of chance. Thomas P. Riggio explains how Carrie raises to fame and fortune in his essay” Carrie’s blues”, like this: She rises “fitfully, opportunistically to the surface only when an external healthy seems to promise fulfillment “[8]. Here the promising external reality refers tote flourishing metropolis at its forming phase which worships wealth and appreciates good-looking appearance. Thus it provides excellent opportunities for such an outstandingly beautiful girl, like Carrie to succeed. In the same circumstance where Carrie rises to fame and fortune, Hurstwood, beaten by a subsequence of bad fortune, declines from a well-dressed, comfortably-housed manager of an expensive saloon where he often rubs shoulders with celebrities, to a debased panhandler. Impecunious and depressive, he commits suicide. What makes such a huge difference between the tow lonely atoms? It’s the mysterious chance, which is not only one outstanding feature of the city, but also the luring aspect of the glittering metropolis. It’s in the city, as an aggregate whole of atom-like underlings, that each independent unit of force and desire either meets obstacles which ruin them, or encounters with fortuitous currents which help them to reach their goals. Behind all those, it’s the consistent and mysterious working of chances.

3. Naturalistic Hereditary Factors for Carrie

Besides its emphasis on environment, naturalism is also character by its stress on heredity. As the pioneer of naturalism, Zola remarks in The Experimental Novel-all the motivations of one’s actions can be traced back to one’s heredity. To put it in another way, one’s inherent character urges one to act in a certain way. For instance, in his masterpiece, la Fortune Des Rouge (1868-1893), a massive works comprised of 20 long novels, Zola records the brutalizing and crushing effect of hereditary factors, such as alcoholism, atavism, strong sexual desire, instinctive desire for pleasure, ect. Upon the tragic fates of individuals. Since traits of characters determine fate, the evil disposition definitely leads one to destruction, and the proper temperament will propel one to succeed. In Carrie’s case, her hereditary disposition—the endowed gift for pleasure prove her to be the fit one in the natural selection, and contribute to her success in the metropolis.

3.1 Endowed Gift Guaranteeing Her Success on the Stage

As far Carrie’s success in the theatrical field is concerned, Donald Prize poined out in his The Novel of Theodore Dreiser: a Critical Study: the stage provides almost the only ideal outlet for the artistic temperament of a talented and beautiful woman. Carrie chooses to be an actress not only because it is the most ideal career for a beautiful woman to rise to a fame and fortune rapidly, but due to the reason that the stage presents the best place to display her essential natures. [9]Here her essential natures contain several points, such as her outstanding beauty, emotional greatness and endowed gift, all of which are resulted from heredity and contribute to her splendid theatrical career.

Find out how UKEssays.com can help you!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

First of all, her inherited outstanding beauty contributes to her rise in the metropolis. Besides her inborn beauty, she has, as Dreiser tell us, the innate quality of emotional greatness, a special quality which is the necessary foundation of the performing lies not only in her capacity to imitate beauty, but also in her unique ability to sense beauty in the realities of life by exerting her imagination power and to communicate it to the audience through her acting. Once standing on the stage, Carrie’s innate emotional greatness enables her to catch the bitterness of Laura’s situation and wraps herself with the needed mounting thoughts, the feeling of being outcast by the whole world descending upon her mind.

During her acting, the radiating and penetrating waves of bitter feeling and sincerity seem to break against and pierce the farthest wall of the theater chamber. The magic of great passion which will dissolve the world is here at work.” All the attentions are riveted on Carrie, whose innate strong imagination power helps her to bring down the house during her debut and proves the fact that she is a born actress”[10]

What needs pointing out particularly is that Carrie’s ability to represent desires,”her most precious possession and her most marketable asset, an eminently practical and yet an almost magical recourse”[11] is a gift endowed by nature. It is safe to state that judging from her outstanding hereditary disposition, she is the fittest, the selected one by nature, thus she is bound to survive and make a hit in the jungle-like metropolis.

3.2 Insatiable Desire for Pleasure Serving as a Propelling Force

A critic once claimed that, the insistent theme of Dreiser’s works was the perennial, unquenchable desire. Almost all of Dreiser’s characters are in the grip of insatiable desire. In 1950s, psychologist Abraham Marlowe provided a scientific explanation for the perennial and unquenchable desire: it is a genetic, a biologically determined nature of an-individual driven to seek satisfaction, a kind of self-actualization, or put it in a simple way, the human innate desire to become more and more what one is capable of becoming. It depends upon an incessant satisfaction of needs that are hierarchical, ranging from the most basic physiological need for food to a higher need for safety, love, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment. Each satisfied need will be replaced by a new and higher need, making desire insatiable. Actually, the theme of the insatiable desire is not a new discovery made by Dreiser.

Dating back to the ancient time, Plato once described man’s inability to satisfy their every desire by drawing an analogy between their endless, bottomless desire and “a perforated vessel into which water is poured”[12]; Licentious defined one’s desire as the thirst for life and observed that “is long as we have not what we crave, it seems to surpass all else, afterward, when it is ours, we crave something else, and the same thirst of life besets us as ever, open-mouthed”[13]. The two great ancient philosophers have already pointed out the truth that man’s desire is insatiable. What makes Dreiser’s treatment of the perpetual theme of the unquenchable desire so special is its 20th century context-the most fascinating phase of American city life around the turning of the century. Dreiser deliberately sets America at the age of its budding imperialism of the early 1900s as the entrancing background in Sister Carrie where Carrie’s various desires are contextualized.

Driven by the innate desire for pleasure, Carrie cannot help but dream to get hold on what she sees as symbolically association with happiness. Carrie desire for money, reputation, beauty, things not for their own, but for pleasure they seem to afford. Meanwhile, Carrie just wants pleasure, but she is confused about what these things might be. Bewildered, she simply associates happiness with money, fame, it even more intangible item-beauty. Believing in the illusion that the more she acquires those things, the happier she will be, and Carrie carries out persistent and blind pursuit of those things. Her desire for immediate pleasure works as an impetus, propelling her to act. But one’s desire can never be sufficiently and ultimately satisfied, for those material commodities will immediately lose their value and attraction as soon as they are possessed, and the sense of spiritual fulfillment also will soon pass away and be replaced by a higher aim for pursuit. After a period of happiness, excitement. And fulfillment come the inevitable feeling of taking it for granted, and then Carrie becomes restless and discontented again, desire for something more.

According to naturalistic principles, one’s character that is resulted from heredity determines their fate. Taking Carrie for example, it’s not difficult to come to the conclusion that her theatrical success is to a great extent due to her hereditary advantages. Without her nature-endowed talent guaranteeing her success in the stage and her unquenchable desire for happiness serving as a consistent impetus, she can be nothing in the cold and indifferent metropolis. Her inborn dispositions prove that she is the fit one in the natural selection; therefore she is bounded to achieve success in the jungle-like city. This excellently embodies the essence of Social Darwinism, that is, the survival of the fittest one through natural selection in the jungle.

4. Naturalism’s Limitations as Reflected in Sister Carrie

Nowadays, naturalism is severely criticized by scholars both at home and aboard. In china, there are many authoritative critics on Theodore Dreiser, such as Jiang Daochao, Fang Chen, ect., who also have made pertinent an in-depth critiques on the limitations of naturalism. For example, they have pointed out that naturalistic writers worship fidelity, therefore, they reproduce real life in their works without any selection, and that is, they record all the detail of life without discrimination. Their works often criticized for the overemphasis on the external appearance and the ignorance of the inner essence of real life, or in other words, they are lacking in depth. Further more, naturalism is characterized by its pessimistic determinism and its unique interest on exploring the animal side of human nature. In the following part, taking naturalism as it is reflected in Sister Carrie for example, I aim to carry out tentative critical comments on the two points.

4.1 Critique of Pessimistic Determinism as Reflected in Sister Carrie

At the very mention of naturalism, it’s natural for one to associate it with pessimistic determinism, which is a dismal opinion that man’s fate is completely at the mercy of environmental and hereditary determinism. Controlled by the two powerful forces, man is helpless and hopeless. How did pessimistic determinism come to being? There are mainly two origins. First, the social background of that specific age contributes to the formation of this pessimistic opinion. The civil war ended in the victory of the northern troops. Ever since that, Industry and commerce developed at an unprecedented rate. American society was transforming an agricultural one to an industrial one. With the inevitable process of urbanization, a huge rural population rushed into the big cities which produced the excess of cheap labor forces and the high rate of unemployment.

Meanwhile, the increasing industrialization resulted in the phenomena if social polarization, or extremes of wealth and poverty: on the one hand, wealth and power were more and more concentrated in the hands of industrial giants and political figures; on the other hand, the majority were experiencing a hell-like miserable life, a survival-or-death daily struggle. Underneath the glittering surface of material prosperity lay the wide-spread and seemingly contagious suffering and unhappiness. Disillusionment and frustration were widely felt. The once “Golden Age” [14] turned out to be a “Gilded” one. Besides that, the crisis of 1893 further set the pessimistic tone in naturalistic works.

Second, the naturalistic vision of man also causes the coming into being of pessimistic determinism. According to naturalism, human being is a helpless pawn, at the mercy of their biological and environmental determinism. He always battles hopelessly against overwhelming odds in a cold, harsh and amoral environment, with his fate predetermined by mysterious forces, which are completely beyond his control. In front of the mighty force, man feels impotent. No matter how hard he tries, he seldom escapes his predetermined destiny. Influenced by the pessimistic view of man, the pictures depicted in naturalistic works are always dismal and the tone is inactive and pessimistic.

Dreiser’s Sister Carrie also embodies the pessimistic determinism. Predetermined by environmental factors and hereditary factors, Carrie has become a wealthy and popular actress. With her success in the theatrical world. Carrie indeed enjoys a moment of happiness and satisfaction. Her once aching appetite for material, social, and artistic success is answered with apparels, carriages, residences, applauses and reputations. But the pleasing mood soon passes away, she quickly feels disenchanted with those already in her hand and fall into her habitual melancholy again. She feels discontented and unhappy, always believing that the door to life’s perfect happiness has not open to her yet.

She is rising to the position of a prestigious star and enjoying a comfortable existence brought about her material richness, but she is still feeling unhappy. Now at the summit of her splendid theatrical career, she tastes spiritual emptiness, which mainly embodies in her disillusionment with her success. Money, clothes, and fame fail to provide the happiness that they once promised. All these are unnecessary items imbued with impossible dreams of happiness, thus she becomes disenchanted with them. Her rising journey to material richness is the process of becoming disillusioned.

The metropolis, to Carrie, has become a socially cold place: although there are many so-called friends around her who will deliver complimentary remarks on her success, she finds there is no warm, genuine friendship behind of the easy merriment with which those amiably approach her. All seem to advance and seek their own pleasure, regardless of the possible sad consequence to her. Therefore, she soon with draws from the accompany of those selfish fellow and seldom goes out with them, which makes her become the indifferent and mysterious figure in the public’s eyes and stirs up more of their interest to approach her. Actually she feels rather lonely inside, and always senses that she is deserted in a loveless, cold society. In terms of money, she finds to her great disappoint the fact that although its not necessary to use her 150 dollars per week salary to maintain her present comfortable life, the sum is far from enough for her to live a luxurious life as other wealthy people do. If she wants to organize her life in the same splendid way, she must have much more money. Her decision is to start saving her money in the bank, and this makes her feel her salary which once seemed to be a sumptuous amount trivial. She becomes disillusioned with the power of money.

Dreiser summarizes Carrie’s disappointment with her success nearly the end of the novel:” now to Carrie, Chicago and New York-the world of fashion and the world of the stage are nothing but disenchanted dreams. What she is longing for is not them, but what they represent, but time has proved that their represent, but time has proved that their representative is an illusion and false. Carrie has everything, yet she has nothing……. “[15]

After reading the novel, I have been wondering the questions: is one’s fate absolutely determined by environment and heredity? Does one really have no power to change one’s fate? First of all, by studying Carrie’s fate, we must admit the fact that environmental and heredity factors indeed play decisive and indispensable part in one’s fate: the advantageous environmental factors and hereditary factors will undoubtedly contribute to one’s success, while as the adverse environmental factors and hereditary factors will hinder one’s development. To put it in other ways, confront with the malicious environmental factors and hereditary factors, man can still exert his free will to overcome those adverse factors and change his fate. Bearing the belief in mind, we should not be pessimistic; instead, we should adopt an active an optimistic attitude towards our life and struggle for a better future.

4.2 Critique of the Concept of Human Beast as Reflected in Sister Carrie

Naturalistic works often explore to great length the animal side of human nature, considering human being to be a strange combination of human reason and human beast. First, it’s necessary to race the origin of the concept of human beast, influenced by Darwin’s theories, the British philosopher and sociologist-Herbert Spenser applied these terminologies, such as “adaptation”,” natural selection”, “the survival of the fittest” to justify some social current of thought known as Social Darwinism. In it, Spenser acclaimed that human society was not the working out of a divine plan, almost American had always believed. It was a radon process dominated by the fiercest or luckiest competitors. He justified the most natural phenomena the society must purge itself of “its unhealthy, imbecile, slow, vacillating, faithless members” (Brooks 775), or in other words, the unfit, the weak will be crushed down. Furthermore, he announced that our human society actually benefit from the elimination of the unfit and the survival of the strong and talented. The fierce competition among men in commercial society was very similar to the harsh struggle for existence between species, and the development of society was considered to be the result of free competitions among men.

At the beginning, it’s of importance to define what naturalism is. As a matter of fact, that’s a troublesome question, for there are various opinions and consistent debates about it. In my paper, I tend to define naturalism as a special creative current of thought which emerged in 1890s and came to a dominant position in 1900s in Europe and America. It originated in France in 1850s, represented by Zola. As the most influential naturalistic writer in Europe, Zola declared in his famous The Experimental Novel that he wrote about life as it was lived in slums, that is, he aimed to present a true-to-life picture in front of his reader. This bolder way to describe realities soon caught the attention of many young writers in America who found that Howells an realism was to fennel and restrained to depict the sordid facts in America society and discovered in Zola an effective and new way to describe the hideous side of America life. Against such a literary background, naturalism came into being in America. It is characterized by its great emphasis on fidelity and truthfulness in the writing process, the starkest advocating of environment and heredity as those important deterministic forces shaping the fates of individuals, the amoral attitude towards the materials, pessimistic determinism, as well as its stress on the animal side of human nature. The whole picture depicted in naturalistic woks is dark and solemn, and the general tone is helpless and pessimistic. Writers belongs to this genre, like Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser, tend to depict with faithfulness and objectivity the insignificance of human beings in a cold, indifferent jungle-like circumstance, the inscrutable chances imposed upon man’s fate, the brutalizing and crushing forces of environment and heredity. The characters in their writing are insect-like animals, devoid of moral consciousness, which are subjected to the mighty and inscrutable forces-especially these of circumstance and innate temperament.[1] Among those naturalistic works, Dreiser’s Sister Carrie is well known as the one in which naturalism attained maturity in America.

This thesis taking Sister Carrie as an example, attempts to study it from naturalistic point of view and explain how environmental factors and heredity factors influence the hero and heroine’s fate. Besides that, since it’s well understood that naturalism has several limitations, the thesis aims to discuss naturalism in Sister Carrie with critical eyes, criticizing pessimistic determinism and the concept of human beast as reflected in the novel. And states briefly the realistic significance of the paper that is under nowadays market economic opportunities and fashionable, glamorous urban life, they move from the underdeveloped regions to the prosperous metropolis. Some of them are led by their insatiable desir for material goods on turn to dishonest, illegl ways. They pessimistically complain about the deterministic effect of degrading environmental and humiliating hereditary factors upon their fates, and blam the amoral, indifferent attitude the society takes on their moral degradation. In fact one should not be so pessimistic: all of people must dignity and self-confidence and fight against for changing the adverse environmental factors and hereditary factors. Therefore, everybody can be a new man and the master of one’s fate.

2. Naturalistic Environmental Factor for Carrie

One outstanding feature of naturalism is its stress on the influence of environment upon man’s fate. According to naturalism, man is a helpless pawn, at the mercy of the surrounding. For instance, in Janie Gerhardt, a novel written in 1911 and wildly considered as the twin sister of Sister Carrie, Dreiser has his wealthy and seemingly impregnable hero-Lester declare those words, “all of us are more or less pawns. We’re moved about like chessman by circumstance over which we have no control”. [2] This famous pronouncement is often regarded as the philosophical center of naturalism, describing the deterministic effect of environmental factors. Most naturalistic novels depict in detail the crushing effect of environment upon individuals. However, in Sister Carrie, the environment, instead of crushing Carrie down, even contributes to her rise.

2.1 The Living Environmental Factors-Luring Metropolises

Naturalism attaches great emphasis on one’s living environment, believing that one’s living environment influences one’s fate enormously. Therefore, the paper starts with discussing the crucial role played by metropolis in Carrie’s rising journey.

Metropolises, with their glittering theatres, imposing hotels and sumptuous restaurants, together with the wealthy in their fashionable apparel, represent the walled and glided city to which Carrie seeks entrance. Described as the “Elf–land”, “dream land”, or “the kingdom of greatness”[3] in the novel, they have been luring a huge number of dream-makers to pour in by promising to satisfy those dreamers, every desire for wealth, for status, for influence. Carrie is just one of them. Living in the entrancing city, a materialist in the core, she can’t escape the consistent seduction from the superhuman tempter, and is lead in consistent pursuit of her unquenchable desire for perfect happiness. On the other hand, metropolises are indeed the natural and idealized habitats for Carrie, for only in those amusing and magnetizing critics can she satisfy at least temporarily her insatiable desire for pleasure and display her special theatrical talent. To be sure, big cities, such as Chicago and New York, offer the needed environment for Carrie’s rise.

Chicago is the first city that forms a suitable living environment, necessary for Carrie’s rise. At the time when the novel was written, it was the vibrant center of business, where the promise of fortunes to be made hung in the air. To these green hands and the rustic, the big city is a shimmering mirage of, promising not only economic opportunities but also a glamorous, exciting, and comfortable social life. However, this is just one side of the city. The other side of it is a rather and indifferent place, a merciless jungle-like industrial society.

Carrie is a bright and beautiful girl of eighteen years old. She is eager to enjoy various pleasures in the life, especially ambitious to gain material well being. She looks forward to Chicago with mixed feelings of ignorance and youthful expectancy. Dreiser depicts her as “a half-equipped little knight “,[4] who ventures to reconnoiter the mysterious city and dreams “wild dreams of some vague, far-off supremacy, which should make it prey and subject-the proper penitent, groveling at a woman’s slipper”[5]. At the very beginning, Carrie dreams wildly that she can again fame and fortune and take the big city in her control. But the reality turns out to be quite the contrary. Instead of playing the role of the conqueror of the city, man has been moving about in the jungle-like city like driftwood caught in the ocean’s side. The imagery of the over whelming sea, another important symbol, serves as an indispensable part of the jungle picture ,and like the symbol of the prairie, reminds us of the cruel jungle struggle for existence.

According to principles in naturalism, man is subject to the environment he lives in. Under the pervasive influence of the city’s hypnotic power, it’s natural for one to fall as an easy prey to the captivating night in the city. It’s in the metropolis, with its unbounded material commodities and numerous entertaining ways that the desire for material goods, for immediate pleasure provides man with the strongest impulse to act, as Carrie does in the novel.

New York is another important living environment which is instrumental in Carrie material rise. As an imperial metropolis, it is the origin of all wealth, power and fame, where the mysteries and possibilities of mystification are infinite. Dreiser opens Chapter30. “The kingdom of Greatness….the Pilgrim a Dream” [6] with a brief discussion of the specific atmosphere created by the ultimate metropolis. The high and mighty atmosphere in New York is like a chemical substance: staying in the atmosphere for one day will completely affect and discolor one’s point of view and one’s desire which will thereafter remain forever dyed. One day of it to the never tried mind is equated with opium to the non-smoker. As a more powerful superhuman tempter, New York’s dreams are more destructive because they are more remote and unattainable than Chicago’s. New York is a place which seems to promise wealth and fame for those fortunate new comers, like Carrie. This side of the city is irresistible, while the other side of the city is rather sordid place which bases everything on money, appearance, and reputation. It’s in such a mighty atmosphere that provides the proper environment for Carrie’s success.

Taking two great metropolises for example, this part discuss the effect of Chicago’s hypnotic power and entrancing night and New York’s mighty atmosphere upon Carrie fate: they incessantly lure her and awake her unquenchable urban life. What’s more, the showy theater, as the most irresistible attraction for her in the city, not only symbolizes her dreamland and serves as a source of her happiness but also provides her with an excellent place to display her talent and makes her rise to material well being. In a word, the luring metropolis provides Carrie with a suitable living environment, for only in metropolis can she satisfy at least temporarily her unquenchable desire for material goods and entertainment, as well as display her performing talent.

2.2 The Social Environmental Factors-Association with a Group of Human Tempters

Environmental factors also contain influence from one’s social association. Zola has pointed out that man is not an isolated creature; he lives in a society, thus the social environment, like the living environment, also plays decisive role in one’s fate. In other words, the omnipresent social environment definitely influences one’s value system and stimulates one to pursue a certain kind of success. For instance, Carrie’s association with a group of materialists helps her to adapt to the cosmopolitan environment quickly and has her unquenchable desire for wealth, for fame further stirred up.

First, instructions on clothes and manners acquired from of a traveling salesman, arousing Carrie’s desire by whispering besides her ear like the evil serpent in the Garden of Eden. He describes the big city as a vast department store with numerous fascinating goods, and his own appearance affects Carrie as a kind of advertisement: the swollen purse, the shiny tan shoes, the smart suit, and the air with which he does things, build up for her a dim world of wealth, of which he is the center. On the train to Chicago, Carrie is immediately attracted by the drummer’s dashing attire and elegant appearance, which causes her to study her own and is acutely conscious of the deficiency of her own clothes: the shabbiness of the dress and the worn state of her shoes. Bear in mind, Carrie’s keen interest in attractive clothes and the deficiency of her own is an integral and indispensable part of the future outcome of the novel. Much of her story is presented in terms of the clothes she acquires. Clothes, usually considered as an index of taste and social position, for Carrie, have turned into a naive but urging desire for that which is elegant and pleasing in life. They also constitute a well-understand language of society, which indicates clearly one’s status and wealth. To learn this language well, she becomes a willing student of her lover Drouet.

As a dandy salesman alert to any distinctions in dress, Drouet regards good clothes as the first essential thing, things without which he is nothing. Living together influenced by Drouet’s philosophy about clothes. Besides instructing Carrie in terms of clothes, Drouet also voluntarily assumes the role of he mentor in manners, and above all, make her aware of herself as an attractive woman. After a long time, she has become a girl of considerable tastes. Therefore when Hurstwood meets Carrie in her flat with Drouet, he finds a pretty, graceful young lady who is much more refined than the provincial Carrie to whom Drouet has first spoken on the train. Hurstwood immediately develops an interest in Carrie, at the same time;[7] she once again falls as an easy prey to Hurstwood’s rich apparel and ingratiating manner. She can’t help but secretly compare those little details, such as the dull shine of Hurstwood’s shiny patent leather shoes, and she prefers the soft rich leather. This little episode indicates that Carrie has already grasped the class language of clothes.

In the metropolis, clothes and manners are signs of wealth, power, and status, and gradually Carrie grows more and more fluent in the city’s language. To put it short, her association with the dandy salesman improves her taste and instructs her to adapt to the metropolitan environment.

Summary, Carrie’s lovers and neighbors in the metropolis who work as the representatives for the seductive social environment change her from an innocent country girl into a smart and experienced city beauty. The association forms a needed social environment, which not only stimulates consistently but insatiable desire for a higher material enjoyment, but also consciously and unconsciously helps her to adapt to the metropolis-her idea habitat.

2.3 Mysterious Manipulation of Chances

Therefore Dreiser was once a strenuous student in reading woks written by Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, Balzac, and Hardy, from whom he comes to formulate his own philosophy, that is, man is merely a lonely atom like substance drown or blown here and there by mighty and mysterious forces which are absolutely beyond his control. He formulates his beliefs that human morality and motivation are based on physiological and sociological desires and that the only discernible laws are those of chance and chance. He further widens his knowledge on one’s fate by accepting Spencer’s Principle of Unknowable: Life is desolate inexplicable, incredibly accidental-luck or disaster, and the rise and fall of individual is subject to the inscrutable, natural forces out of man’s control. From Balzac, Dreiser finds more sympathy on the working of inscrutable chances, for Balzac declares in his works that those grasping, greedy people’s fate are determined by the dice of chance: some, through a stroke of fortune, rise above the average, While the others, beaten by devastating chance, fall, but all are hungry for the same glittering prizes in life-wealth, fame and position. Here the dice of chance is manipulating in great effect by shaping the inevitable rise of Carrie in the big cities.

In short, Carrie’s success is, to a great extent, due to the inscrutable manipulation of chance. Thomas P. Riggio explains how Carrie raises to fame and fortune in his essay” Carrie’s blues”, like this: She rises “fitfully, opportunistically to the surface only when an external healthy seems to promise fulfillment “[8]. Here the promising external reality refers tote flourishing metropolis at its forming phase which worships wealth and appreciates good-looking appearance. Thus it provides excellent opportunities for such an outstandingly beautiful girl, like Carrie to succeed. In the same circumstance where Carrie rises to fame and fortune, Hurstwood, beaten by a subsequence of bad fortune, declines from a well-dressed, comfortably-housed manager of an expensive saloon where he often rubs shoulders with celebrities, to a debased panhandler. Impecunious and depressive, he commits suicide. What makes such a huge difference between the tow lonely atoms? It’s the mysterious chance, which is not only one outstanding feature of the city, but also the luring aspect of the glittering metropolis. It’s in the city, as an aggregate whole of atom-like underlings, that each independent unit of force and desire either meets obstacles which ruin them, or encounters with fortuitous currents which help them to reach their goals. Behind all those, it’s the consistent and mysterious working of chances.

3. Naturalistic Hereditary Factors for Carrie

Besides its emphasis on environment, naturalism is also character by its stress on heredity. As the pioneer of naturalism, Zola remarks in The Experimental Novel-all the motivations of one’s actions can be traced back to one’s heredity. To put it in another way, one’s inherent character urges one to act in a certain way. For instance, in his masterpiece, la Fortune Des Rouge (1868-1893), a massive works comprised of 20 long novels, Zola records the brutalizing and crushing effect of hereditary factors, such as alcoholism, atavism, strong sexual desire, instinctive desire for pleasure, ect. Upon the tragic fates of individuals. Since traits of characters determine fate, the evil disposition definitely leads one to destruction, and the proper temperament will propel one to succeed. In Carrie’s case, her hereditary disposition—the endowed gift for pleasure prove her to be the fit one in the natural selection, and contribute to her success in the metropolis.

3.1 Endowed Gift Guaranteeing Her Success on the Stage

As far Carrie’s success in the theatrical field is concerned, Donald Prize poined out in his The Novel of Theodore Dreiser: a Critical Study: the stage provides almost the only ideal outlet for the artistic temperament of a talented and beautiful woman. Carrie chooses to be an actress not only because it is the most ideal career for a beautiful woman to rise to a fame and fortune rapidly, but due to the reason that the stage presents the best place to display her essential natures. [9]Here her essential natures contain several points, such as her outstanding beauty, emotional greatness and endowed gift, all of which are resulted from heredity and contribute to her splendid theatrical career.

First of all, her inherited outstanding beauty contributes to her rise in the metropolis. Besides her inborn beauty, she has, as Dreiser tell us, the innate quality of emotional greatness, a special quality which is the necessary foundation of the performing lies not only in her capacity to imitate beauty, but also in her unique ability to sense beauty in the realities of life by exerting her imagination power and to communicate it to the audience through her acting. Once standing on the stage, Carrie’s innate emotional greatness enables her to catch the bitterness of Laura’s situation and wraps herself with the needed mounting thoughts, the feeling of being outcast by the whole world descending upon her mind.

During her acting, the radiating and penetrating waves of bitter feeling and sincerity seem to break against and pierce the farthest wall of the theater chamber. The magic of great passion which will dissolve the world is here at work.” All the attentions are riveted on Carrie, whose innate strong imagination power helps her to bring down the house during her debut and proves the fact that she is a born actress”[10]

What needs pointing out particularly is that Carrie’s ability to represent desires,”her most precious possession and her most marketable asset, an eminently practical and yet an almost magical recourse”[11] is a gift endowed by nature. It is safe to state that judging from her outstanding hereditary disposition, she is the fittest, the selected one by nature, thus she is bound to survive and make a hit in the jungle-like metropolis.

3.2 Insatiable Desire for Pleasure Serving as a Propelling Force

A critic once claimed that, the insistent theme of Dreiser’s works was the perennial, unquenchable desire. Almost all of Dreiser’s characters are in the grip of insatiable desire. In 1950s, psychologist Abraham Marlowe provided a scientific explanation for the perennial and unquenchable desire: it is a genetic, a biologically determined nature of an-individual driven to seek satisfaction, a kind of self-actualization, or put it in a simple way, the human innate desire to become more and more what one is capable of becoming. It depends upon an incessant satisfaction of needs that are hierarchical, ranging from the most basic physiological need for food to a higher need for safety, love, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment. Each satisfied need will be replaced by a new and higher need, making desire insatiable. Actually, the theme of the insatiable desire is not a new discovery made by Dreiser.

Dating back to the ancient time, Plato once described man’s inability to satisfy their every desire by drawing an analogy between their endless, bottomless desire and “a perforated vessel into which water is poured”[12]; Licentious defined one’s desire as the thirst for life and observed that “is long as we have not what we crave, it seems to surpass all else, afterward, when it is ours, we crave something else, and the same thirst of life besets us as ever, open-mouthed”[13]. The two great ancient philosophers have already pointed out the truth that man’s desire is insatiable. What makes Dreiser’s treatment of the perpetual theme of the unquenchable desire so special is its 20th century context-the most fascinating phase of American city life around the turning of the century. Dreiser deliberately sets America at the age of its budding imperialism of the early 1900s as the entrancing background in Sister Carrie where Carrie’s various desires are contextualized.

Driven by the innate desire for pleasure, Carrie cannot help but dream to get hold on what she sees as symbolically association with happiness. Carrie desire for money, reputation, beauty, things not for their own, but for pleasure they seem to afford. Meanwhile, Carrie just wants pleasure, but she is confused about what these things might be. Bewildered, she simply associates happiness with money, fame, it even more intangible item-beauty. Believing in the illusion that the more she acquires those things, the happier she will be, and Carrie carries out persistent and blind pursuit of those things. Her desire for immediate pleasure works as an impetus, propelling her to act. But one’s desire can never be sufficiently and ultimately satisfied, for those material commodities will immediately lose their value and attraction as soon as they are possessed, and the sense of spiritual fulfillment also will soon pass away and be replaced by a higher aim for pursuit. After a period of happiness, excitement. And fulfillment come the inevitable feeling of taking it for granted, and then Carrie becomes restless and discontented again, desire for something more.

According to naturalistic principles, one’s character that is resulted from heredity determines their fate. Taking Carrie for example, it’s not difficult to come to the conclusion that her theatrical success is to a great extent due to her hereditary advantages. Without her nature-endowed talent guaranteeing her success in the stage and her unquenchable desire for happiness serving as a consistent impetus, she can be nothing in the cold and indifferent metropolis. Her inborn dispositions prove that she is the fit one in the natural selection; therefore she is bounded to achieve success in the jungle-like city. This excellently embodies the essence of Social Darwinism, that is, the survival of the fittest one through natural selection in the jungle.

4. Naturalism’s Limitations as Reflected in Sister Carrie

Nowadays, naturalism is severely criticized by scholars both at home and aboard. In china, there are many authoritative critics on Theodore Dreiser, such as Jiang Daochao, Fang Chen, ect., who also have made pertinent an in-depth critiques on the limitations of naturalism. For example, they have pointed out that naturalistic writers worship fidelity, therefore, they reproduce real life in their works without any selection, and that is, they record all the detail of life without discrimination. Their works often criticized for the overemphasis on the external appearance and the ignorance of the inner essence of real life, or in other words, they are lacking in depth. Further more, naturalism is characterized by its pessimistic determinism and its unique interest on exploring the animal side of human nature. In the following part, taking naturalism as it is reflected in Sister Carrie for example, I aim to carry out tentative critical comments on the two points.

4.1 Critique of Pessimistic Determinism as Reflected in Sister Carrie

At the very mention of naturalism, it’s natural for one to associate it with pessimistic determinism, which is a dismal opinion that man’s fate is completely at the mercy of environmental and hereditary determinism. Controlled by the two powerful forces, man is helpless and hopeless. How did pessimistic determinism come to being? There are mainly two origins. First, the social background of that specific age contributes to the formation of this pessimistic opinion. The civil war ended in the victory of the northern troops. Ever since that, Industry and commerce developed at an unprecedented rate. American society was transforming an agricultural one to an industrial one. With the inevitable process of urbanization, a huge rural population rushed into the big cities which produced the excess of cheap labor forces and the high rate of unemployment.

Meanwhile, the increasing industrialization resulted in the phenomena if social polarization, or extremes of wealth and poverty: on the one hand, wealth and power were more and more concentrated in the hands of industrial giants and political figures; on the other hand, the majority were experiencing a hell-like miserable life, a survival-or-death daily struggle. Underneath the glittering surface of material prosperity lay the wide-spread and seemingly contagious suffering and unhappiness. Disillusionment and frustration were widely felt. The once “Golden Age” [14] turned out to be a “Gilded” one. Besides that, the crisis of 1893 further set the pessimistic tone in naturalistic works.

Second, the naturalistic vision of man also causes the coming into being of pessimistic determinism. According to naturalism, human being is a helpless pawn, at the mercy of their biological and environmental determinism. He always battles hopelessly against overwhelming odds in a cold, harsh and amoral environment, with his fate predetermined by mysterious forces, which are completely beyond his control. In front of the mighty force, man feels impotent. No matter how hard he tries, he seldom escapes his predetermined destiny. Influenced by the pessimistic view of man, the pictures depicted in naturalistic works are always dismal and the tone is inactive and pessimistic.

Dreiser’s Sister Carrie also embodies the pessimistic determinism. Predetermined by environmental factors and hereditary factors, Carrie has become a wealthy and popular actress. With her success in the theatrical world. Carrie indeed enjoys a moment of happiness and satisfaction. Her once aching appetite for material, social, and artistic success is answered with apparels, carriages, residences, applauses and reputations. But the pleasing mood soon passes away, she quickly feels disenchanted with those already in her hand and fall into her habitual melancholy again. She feels discontented and unhappy, always believing that the door to life’s perfect happiness has not open to her yet.

She is rising to the position of a prestigious star and enjoying a comfortable existence brought about her material richness, but she is still feeling unhappy. Now at the summit of her splendid theatrical career, she tastes spiritual emptiness, which mainly embodies in her disillusionment with her success. Money, clothes, and fame fail to provide the happiness that they once promised. All these are unnecessary items imbued with impossible dreams of happiness, thus she becomes disenchanted with them. Her rising journey to material richness is the process of becoming disillusioned.

The metropolis, to Carrie, has become a socially cold place: although there are many so-called friends around her who will deliver complimentary remarks on her success, she finds there is no warm, genuine friendship behind of the easy merriment with which those amiably approach her. All seem to advance and seek their own pleasure, regardless of the possible sad consequence to her. Therefore, she soon with draws from the accompany of those selfish fellow and seldom goes out with them, which makes her become the indifferent and mysterious figure in the public’s eyes and stirs up more of their interest to approach her. Actually she feels rather lonely inside, and always senses that she is deserted in a loveless, cold society. In terms of money, she finds to her great disappoint the fact that although its not necessary to use her 150 dollars per week salary to maintain her present comfortable life, the sum is far from enough for her to live a luxurious life as other wealthy people do. If she wants to organize her life in the same splendid way, she must have much more money. Her decision is to start saving her money in the bank, and this makes her feel her salary which once seemed to be a sumptuous amount trivial. She becomes disillusioned with the power of money.

Dreiser summarizes Carrie’s disappointment with her success nearly the end of the novel:” now to Carrie, Chicago and New York-the world of fashion and the world of the stage are nothing but disenchanted dreams. What she is longing for is not them, but what they represent, but time has proved that their represent, but time has proved that their representative is an illusion and false. Carrie has everything, yet she has nothing……. “[15]

After reading the novel, I have been wondering the questions: is one’s fate absolutely determined by environment and heredity? Does one really have no power to change one’s fate? First of all, by studying Carrie’s fate, we must admit the fact that environmental and heredity factors indeed play decisive and indispensable part in one’s fate: the advantageous environmental factors and hereditary factors will undoubtedly contribute to one’s success, while as the adverse environmental factors and hereditary factors will hinder one’s development. To put it in other ways, confront with the malicious environmental factors and hereditary factors, man can still exert his free will to overcome those adverse factors and change his fate. Bearing the belief in mind, we should not be pessimistic; instead, we should adopt an active an optimistic attitude towards our life and struggle for a better future.

4.2 Critique of the Concept of Human Beast as Reflected in Sister Carrie

Naturalistic works often explore to great length the animal side of human nature, considering human being to be a strange combination of human reason and human beast. First, it’s necessary to race the origin of the concept of human beast, influenced by Darwin’s theories, the British philosopher and sociologist-Herbert Spenser applied these terminologies, such as “adaptation”,” natural selection”, “the survival of the fittest” to justify some social current of thought known as Social Darwinism. In it, Spenser acclaimed that human society was not the working out of a divine plan, almost American had always believed. It was a radon process dominated by the fiercest or luckiest competitors. He justified the most natural phenomena the society must purge itself of “its unhealthy, imbecile, slow, vacillating, faithless members” (Brooks 775), or in other words, the unfit, the weak will be crushed down. Furthermore, he announced that our human society actually benefit from the elimination of the unfit and the survival of the strong and talented. The fierce competition among men in commercial society was very similar to the harsh struggle for existence between species, and the development of society was considered to be the result of free competitions among men.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on the UKDiss.com website then please: