Analysis of Stephen Crane's, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
Today in modern America, it has become almost impossible to avoid the tales of horror that surround us almost anywhere we go. Scandals, murders, theft, corruption, extortion, abuse, prostitution, all common occurrences in this day in age. A hundred years ago however, people did not see the world in quite such an open manner despite the fact that in many ways, similarities were abundant. People’s lives were, in their views, free of all evil and pollution. They assumed they lived peaceful lives and those around them lived the same flawless lives untouched by corruption as well. Many were too blind to see beyond their own homes and into the lives of others who dealt with a more unfortunate fate. Those being the ones who lived in poverty, abuse, and other harsh conditions which were finally exposed to America in 1893 by a 22-year old college free lance writer who simply wished to show things as they appeared to him: bitterly real. Stephen Crane was America’s first realistic writer who exposed the realities of the slums, tenement living and other unfavorable conditions to a very naïve American audience. Through hard work and his great devotion to the examination of the darker side of life Crane finally was able to publish his novel in which explored his experiences of the New York slums. Through his great use of dialect, irony and realism in his novel Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Stephen Crane is able to accomplish his goal of creating a
vivid picture in his reader’s mind, portraying the harsh, abusive conditions of the many lives condemned to this fortune.
Stephen Crane began his quest for the truth in the summer of 1889 while visiting his brother who lived in New Jersey (Peden, 104). While living with his brother Crane was drawn to the idea of realistic writing. He would travel to New York on almost a daily basis to witness and experience the poverty and abusive conditions of the slums (Colvert, 104). During his visits to New York Crane was able to establish an understanding and develop a feeling for what life was like in the slums. He soon acquired a craving for individuality and a yearning to express his experiences. He began his mission by placing upon himself the desire to become his own individual, separating himself from other writers of the era by using his unique style of realistic writing as well as dialect (Cantwell, 141).
According to Hamlin Garland a well-known critic as well as a writer during this time, Crane, “…gives the dialect of the slums as I never before seen it written—crisp, direct, terse” (121). His use of dialect throughout the novel is virtually impossible to ignore. The choppy uneducated lines and dialogue shows the obvious knowledge of the way the poor lived and the purpose behind the writing. Crane was able to develop his own dialect which was reflected in his writings. His dialogue is perhaps the best aspect of his writing gained...