"Literary Impressionism in Steven Crane's A Red Badge of Courage"

Essay by punkrockprepguyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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Literary impressionism is exemplified by the writer Steven Crane. Though many themes of writing styles writing styles such as realism and naturalism lend themselves to Crane's works, it is the combination of components from these styles with impressionism that gave Steven Crane his own unique panache. An understanding of of many organic features of impressionism and Crane's personal writing style are needed to bring full enjoyment out of Crane's literary works, including the masterpiece of all impressionistic novels The Red Badge of Courage. These include: Backgrounds of Impressionism, Narrative Method, Theme, Characterization, Structure and Imagery.

Impressionism has often been viewed as having a large impact on many arts, especially painting, but the most significant and overlooked impact has been impressionism's impact on literature. The modern employment of the term "impressionism" to identify an artistic inclination comes from Claude Monet's painting, Impression, Sunrise. The reason that impressionism isn't seen as having a major impact on literature as some of the other major writing styles is because there was no need to name a style that didn't exist until critics saw the difference between impressionism and naturalism.

"Certain critics, looking primarily at Maggie, George's Mother, and the Bowery Tales concluded with some justification that they closely resembled works of naturalism."(Nagel p. 6). Until Crane wrote The Red Badge of Courage, most his works could be categorized under the school of naturalism without an excessive amount of argument, but even though The Red Badge of Courage portrays many naturalistic qualities, through it's depiction of perception of truth being more important than truth itself shows Crane's style is not limited to naturalism and merits a name that suits it. "The impressions of the perceiving mind is quite distinct from the phenomenon stimulating the impression, and although impressions may be the only source...