Stephen Crane — Maggie: A Girl on the Streets

             Seeking and expressing the bare truth is often more difficult than writing stories of fiction. This truth can be harsher to the reader than works of fiction; it can make an author's desire to reveal the essence of society through characters the reader relates to risky and unpopular. As a naturalistic and realistic writer, Stephen Crane depicted the human mind in a way that few others have been capable of doing, while exhibiting his talent to express characters, describe settings, and create a theme. The gritty social realism of his first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, has earned praise from literary critics such as Hamlin Garland and W. D. Howells, but Crane probably gave away more copies of Maggie than were actually sold (Crane 13).
             Another novel of Crane's, commonly considered his greatest accomplishment, is called The Red Badge of Courage. It ranks among the foremost literary achievements of the modern era, yet it defies outright classification, showing traits of both the realist and naturalist movements of the time. It is considered a classic precisely because it is able to do so without having to sacrifice unity or poignancy. The Red Badge of Courage belongs unequivocally to the naturalist genre, but realism is also present and used to great effect. It is clear that Stephen Crane wrote of ordinary people who face difficult circumstances that his readers could relate to (Seaman 148). He sought to debunk the ideas that were inherent in nineteenth-century literature, which depicted life in a more favorable, but often unrealistic, light.
             When describing Crane's works, literary critic Dorothy Nyren Curley says, "There are no false steps, no excesses." Crane's impoverished background helped him understand the cruelty of life. His childhood was marred by tragedy, and his life full of setbacks and wanderings. He was the youngest of fourteen children, but one of only nine who survived birth. When Crane was seven his fathe...

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Stephen Crane — Maggie: A Girl on the Streets. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:08, February 02, 2023, from