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Naturalism in literature is a movement that originated from French naturalist movement. They were influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Characteristic of naturalism in literature involves a surprising twist at the end of the novel. On the other hand, realism is the effort by literary writers to portray life as it truly is. This paper is going to discuss discuss characterization of Nora from the play A Doll's House by Ibsen, Hedda from Hedda Gabler by Ibsen, and Barbara, Undershaft, and Cusins from Major Barbara by Shaw in terms of Naturalism and Realism ideologies.
Realism in the play “A Doll's House” depicts Nora as one of the complex character because in the beginning, she acts as a child and is extravagant in her Christmas shopping. She secretly buys desserts and eats macaroons secretly. Her life is portrayed as it is with different aspects of hiding things from the husband. This leads to a change that occurred in her life because after her husbands sickness she is caught trying to forge her father’s will. This led to a number of actions that made her see her husband’s true character. This changes her perspective of him and exits saying only miracle can bring them back together. On the other hand, naturalism would see Nora’s life as a twist of events. She changes from the soft baby like wife to one who knows her rights that make her walk away from her husband since he became indifferent.
Realism would on the other hand view Hedda from the play Hedda Gabler as a person who expresses herself wickedly. She does it for her own pleasure and does not care about what other people feel. She often directs her bottled up energy at people with her ill nature. She ends up married to George because of the lie she gave about liking a house which George wrote about. Naturalist on the other hand would look at Hedda’s life which becomes a ridiculous affair that was not seemingly coming to an end. She saw life as ridiculous and not tragic. She never wanted to face the reality of her pregnancy. She therefore had to get married and be trapped in a loveless marriage.
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Barbara Undershaft from the play Undershaft would be seen from the perspective of realism as a robust and energetic character who is the play’s savior. She is a major for the Salvation Army who is convinced that one day she would redeem mankind through Christianity. We realizes that she has power over her army and having wealth makes her believe that it is the forces of wealth that holds her world rather than the power of God. Her inspiration rather than the truth of Christianity makes her people’s savior.
On the hand, naturalists would look at the changes she goes through in life. In the beginning we see a savior who is believes will be able to save men and change them to Christians but in the end, she founds out that wealth and power are the only forces she can rely on. Her visit to the Undershaft’s ideal community of Perivale, led her recognize the armory as man’s redemption.
Naturalists would view Cusins from the play “Major Barbara by Shaw” as a professor with different lifestyles who would change his opinion in order to achieve his goals. He first of all joins the Salvation Army because he was in live but did not put into practice their values. He further condemns Undershaft’s movement calling it a factory of destruction and death. Joining Salvation Army was because of his love for Barbara but as the play progresses we see that it is now Barbara who is in love with him while he sees no future with her. Conversely realism would describe him as a person making decisions in response to situation. He changes various decisions to reach his goal. He first of all joins the Salvation Army only because of love and further wants to inherit Undershaft business despite having condemned it. Finally, he sees that there is no future for him and Barbara.
Characterization of Nora from the play A Doll's House by Ibsen, Hedda from Hedda Gabler by Ibsen, and Barbara, Undershaft, and Cusins from Major Barbara by Shaw have been discussed in terms of Naturalism and Realism ideologies. The characters both portray the ideologies carried in naturalistic and realism movements in literature. They face constant twist of events and at the same time, they are portrayed in life as it truly is.