While naturalism is often perceived as an extension of realism, naturalism is influenced extensively by the theories of Charles Darwin and his ideas about survival of the fittest, ideas that lead to a certain determinism. A naturalistic character, then, is described as controlled by heredity, instinct, "the brute within"...
While naturalism is often perceived as an extension of realism, naturalism is influenced extensively by the theories of Charles Darwin and his ideas about survival of the fittest, ideas that lead to a certain determinism. A naturalistic character, then, is described as controlled by heredity, instinct, "the brute within" and the environment as well as certain forces of an indifferent and deterministic universe.
One naturalistic character is Tess from Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles. Tess, an impoverished and uneducated girl, is a victim of forces outside her control. She is sent to work for her wealthy distant relatives and suffers rape and has a child, but the child dies. Tess struggles to survive her misfortunes and seems to have found happiness when she marries Angel. However, after she reveals her victimization by Alec d'Uberville, he rejects her, and she again finds herself destitute after Angel leaves the country. But she procures work on a farm where she must work very hard.
One day Tess decides to walk to the parsonage in Emminster, where Angel's parents live. However, she abandons her plan when she overhears Angel's brothers mention Angel's unwise marriage. On her way again, Tess re-encounters her cousin Alec d'Uberville, who has converted to Methodism. This time, he tells her to stay away from him and she hopes that she is rid of him. But, as fate would have it, Alec turns up in another location and he tells Tess he is no longer a preacher; furthermore, he wants her to come with him this time, insulting Angel when she informs Alec that she is married.
Tess cannot escape misery and poverty. After this new encounter with Alec, her father dies and the lease on the family farm ends with his death. Out of desperation, Tess agrees to become the mistress of Alec (naturalistic theme of sex as a commodity) so that her mother will be taken care of; unfortunately, Angel returns from Brazil and asks her mother where Tess is. When he arrives at Tess's home in a seaside town, Tess tells him it is too late because she has become the mistress of Alec d'Uberville. Overcome with the cruelty of circumstance in her life, Tess blames Alec for causing her to lose Angel twice and the naturalistic "brute within" exerts itself and she stabs him to death. Tess is later captured by authorities and hanged. Certainly, the story of Tess is what naturalists call a "chronicle of despair." Further, all of Tess's misfortunes occur in what seems to be an indifferent universe--Hardy refers to this controlling fate as Immanent Will. Against this Immanent Will, free will seems an illusion.