Alger and Crane: Mythic Vs. Realist Essay

Alger and Crane: Mythic Vs. Realist Essay

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Stephen Crane and Horatio Alger are both authors who discuss issues that deal with New York City in the 1800's. They are different in one major way. Crane is known as more of a realist, whereas Alger is known as mythic. Two examples that distinguish these authors' styles are Maggie, A Girl Of The Streets, by Crane and Ragged Dick Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks, by Alger. Both stories illustrate attempts to rise to the upper classes of society or become "respectable."

Crane's story is about a girl named Maggie who grew up in a life that would cause any person with feelings to have the utmost sympathy for her. To explain briefly; her brother was a roughneck in the community, her mother and father were alcoholics, a younger brother died at a young age, and they lived in a tenement building. Crane is described as a "realistic" author because of the way he describes the social environment and the stress of everyday life.

In this story we see a classic example of a poverty-stricken family to its fullest extent. The brother Jimmie gets into numerous fights because of the bad influences in the community. Both parents looked out only for themselves and decided that if they could forget the conditions they were living in and let life pass by, hoping for the best, it would come. Crane describes the parents: "In the middle of the floor lay his mother asleep. In one corner of the room his father's limp body hung across the seat of a chair...Her [mother's] face was inflamed and swollen from drinking" (Crane, p.13). We can really see how this example illustrates how real Crane's writing is. As we see later on in the story Maggie leaves for a couple of weeks to live with Pete, her "boyfriend" because being with him giv...


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...merous examples throughout his story that emphasize that "the appearance of a person doesn't always predict their true intention." We can clearly see that Alger has a fantasy of what the world should be or how we should perceive the world. Crane, on the other hand, clearly illustrates the reality of life in discussing and presenting examples of accurate situations that plague our society, as well as the usual outcome of the situation. For instance, to further back up Crane's philosophy we can look at Maggie, in the sense of her starting with nothing, gaining something, then ending up lower than she began.

To close, it is represented in my essay that Crane is clearly out to give the "realistic" perspective on a society plagued with many problems, whereas Alger gives representation to the "mythic" aspect of life which is commonly phrased as "dreams come true."

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