Significance of Charles Darwin’s Origins of Species
Historical Context and Two States of Thought: Realism A reaction against romanticism, an interest in scientific method, the systematizing of the study of documentary history, and the influence of rational philosophy all affected the rise of realism. Broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality" or "verisimilitude," realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing. Although strictly speaking, realism is a technique, it also denotes a particular kind of subject matter. In American literature, the term "realism" encompasses the period of time from the Civil War to the turn of the century during which William Dean Howells, Rebecca Harding Davis, Henry James, Mark Twain, and others wrote fiction devoted to accurate representation and an exploration of American lives in various contexts.
Continued….Characteristics: (from Richard Chase, The American Novel and Its Tradition) Renders reality closely and in comprehensive detail. Selective presentation of reality with an emphasis on verisimilitude, even at the expense of a well-made plot Character is more important than action and plot; complex ethical choices are often the subject. Characters appear in their real complexity of temperament and motive; they are in explicable relation to nature, to each other, to their social class, to their own past. Class is important; the novel has traditionally served the interests and aspirations of an insurgent middle class. Events will usually be plausible. Realistic novels avoid the sensational, dramatic elements of naturalistic novels and romances. Diction is natural vernacular, not heightened or poetic; tone may be comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact. Objectivity in presentation becomes increasingly important: overt authorial comments or intrusions diminish as the century progresses. Interior or psychological realism a variant form.
Naturalism This literary movement , like its predecessor Realism, found expression almost exclusively within the novel.-Naturalism also found its greatest number of practitioners in America shortly before and after the turn of the twentieth century. Naturalism sought to go further and be more explanatory than Realism by identifying the underlying causes for a person’s actions or beliefs.- The thinking was that certain factors, such as heredity and social conditions, were unavoidable determinants in one’s life. There was in the late nineteenth century a fashion in sociology to apply evolutionary theory to human social woes. This line of thinking came to be knows as Social Darwinism, and today is recognized as the systematized, scientific racism that it is.
Works on the subject of Naturalism The work of French novelist and playwright Emile Zola’s most famous contribution to Naturalism was Les Rougon- Macquart,-a collection of 20 novels that-follow two families over the course of five generations. One of the families is privileged, the other impoverished.-Takes place during the rule of Napoleon III. One of the first truly Naturalist works of literature, and certainly the first in America, was Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.-vulgar dialect of the persons portrayed.-portrayed abject poverty exactly as it was.
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin born 1809, was born the fifth of six children into a wealthy Shropshire gentry family in the small market town of Shrewsbury. In October 1825 Darwin went to Edinburgh University with his brother Erasmus to study medicine with a view to becoming a physician. While in Edinburgh Darwin investigated marine invertebrates with the guidance of Robert Grant. His name appeared in print when some of his records of insect captures were published by Stephens in his British Entomology in 1829. On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life is published in London on 24 November 24, 1859 by John Murray Dies 19 April 19, 1882, aged seventy-three. Buried in Westminster Abbey, April 26.
The Origins of Species Darwins theory argued that organisms gradually evolve through a process he called "natural selection."-In natural selection, organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic makeup of the species. It was controversial because it contradicted religious beliefs which underlay the then current theories of biology. Darwin’s book was the culmination of evidence he had accumulated on the voyage of the Beagle in the 1830s and added to through continuing investigations and experiments since his return.
His theory of evolution by natural selection, now the unifying theory of the life sciences, explained where all of the astonishingly diverse kinds of living things came from and how they became exquisitely adapted to their particular environments. His theory reconciled a host of diverse kinds of evidence such as the progressive nature of fossil forms in the geological record, the geographical distribution of species, recapitulative appearances in embryology, homologous structures, vestigial organs and nesting taxonomic relationships. In further works Darwin demonstrated that the difference between humans and other animals is one of degree not kind. Subsequent developments in genetics and molecular biology led to modifications in accepted evolutionary theory, but Darwins ideas remain central to the field.
The impact of The Origins of Species Darwin’s Origin of Species denied a divine hand in creation. In consequence, those who read it inferred that no absolute good or absolute evil exists.-Paradoxically, the development of human society was an attempt to escape from the natural selection. Human beings create social systems in order to protect themselves from the uncontrollable forces of nature. Evolutionary theory provoked a wave of pessimism and skepticism about the human condition. Darwin made it necessary to re-evaluate the most essential concepts which humanity had created for the last 2000 years: man, nature, consciousness, God, and the soul. Controversy over Darwins ideas deepened with the publication of The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), in which he presented evidence of mans evolution from apes.
Works Cited Campbell, Donna M. "Realism in American http://www.victorianweb.org/science/darwi Literature, 1860-1890." Literary n/diniejko.html Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/rea lism.htm Wyhe, John. Ed 2002. “The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. http://darwin- online.org.uk/ http://www.online- literature.com/periods/naturalism.php http://librivox.org/the-origin-of-species-by- charles-darwin/ http://www.history.com/this-day-in- history/origin-of-species-is-published