Stephen Crane's impressionism : a step back
Tobin, Kathleen Rosemarie
Master of Arts
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis focuses primarily on Impressionism in three of Stephen Crane's works: Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. The Red Badge of Courage and "The Monster." Impressionism is the most appropriate hypothesis to describe Crane's work because it deals with modes of perception, methods of interpretation of data, and the conflicts of interpretation of data. Impressionism, as I will define it, relies mainly on perception stemming fi*om the characters themselves. It promotes the conflict between their perception and the reality of the surrounding world. The role of the Impressionist writer is to present these perceptions in such a way as to point out their discontinuity. Primarily this is achieved through the use of a fragmented narrative that reflects the cognitive responses of the protagonists. Crane uses imagery that reflects the perspective of the protagonist, carefully choosing images to reflect the protagonist's state ofmind. These images are chosen for the effect they will have not on the reader, but on the characters in the story. Thus, what often appears to be meaningless has meaning when taken in terms of the whole story. Atmosphere succeeds scene in importance, as space and shapes are translated into the essence of sensation. Crane's Impressionist protagonist has difficulty processing what he sees. He is the victim of his own faulty interpretation of the data with which he is presented. He is influenced by his emotions, in particular fear, anxiety and pride. Reality isfelt rather than imagined, thereby making even the most unrealistic impression real for the protagonist. He loses the ability to distinguish between empirical reality and the reality he has created for himself because he is unable to judge which impressions should be rejected or accepted as real. Ultimately he ends in a world of destruction, disintegration, and exhaustion. These concepts will be more fully explored in this thesis, with examples taken from the three works mentioned above. Emphasis will be placed on Crane’s narrative techniques and his rendering of the Impressionist protagonist as a victim of his over-stimulated perception of the world around him.