In the annals of books, naturalism was the dominant genre of the later nineteenth century. In such a form of literature, writers such as Stephen Crane and Jack London made their marks. Another publisher, who made his symbol and even identified himself within the confines of the genre, was Frank Norris, the author of any Naturalistic masterpiece called McTeague. For those who have familiarized themselves with Old Norse mythology and medieval English literature, the personas in McTeague hit a familiar chord. The entire story reads as an epic, with its lavish explanations and fate-driven characters. Through his explanation of imagery and thought, Frank Norris recreates the Norse epic through the distinctive zoom lens of Naturalism by exchanging the constructs of the mythology with the tendencies of his individuals.
But why would Frank Norris do this? And for that matter, why is it even important? The reason why for these are very simple. Frank Norris began writing McTeague as an task at Harvard University or college, but continued writing the novel until its completion in 1899 (Hart). During his time there he'd have also examined old literature, including the epics and sagas. He would have been encouraged by these old text messages to create stories based upon similar guidelines, and he would have tied the precepts of the books to the literary activity which he identified with.
Of course, to comprehend how Naturalism and epic convention hook up, the reader must have a modest knowledge of both conventions. Epic writing contains the following conventions: in depth romanticized information, a voyage, use of supernatural elements including destiny, large-scale conflict or a duel, and a descent into the underworld. This form of books was also written only in a poetic form from the earliest known epics (I. e. Iliad, Aeneid) to the later thirteenth century (I. e. Divina Comedia).
Comparatively, North american Naturalism is an extremely young movements. According to Doctor Robert L. Lynch of Longwood School, the convention of North american Naturalism is usually that the books "assumes that humans have little or no control over what goes on to them. [They] are unable to exercise free will and are at the mercy of exterior and internal forces which control their destinies" (Lynch). At this point a parallel is beginning to appear. Both Epic and Naturalist writings are driven by destiny and between other higher capabilities.
But how exactly does American Naturalism immediately relate with Norse epics? The answer is simply wyrd (pronounced wrd). Regarding to Liuzza, "Wyrd relates to the verb 'weorthan, ' signifying roughly 'to take place. ' [It's] meaning range between a neutral 'event' to a recommended 'future' to a personified 'Destiny'; it is useful to think of [it] as 'what happens, ' usually in a negative sense" (Liuzza). Wyrd can also be referred to as the inexplicability and inevitability of the duration of time; an object which can't be controlled by individuals will or ideal, but constantly exerts its own force over all worldly things. In this manner, Wyrd also can be used to spell it out fate's physically defined exertions in McTeague on the people.
Another way in which McTeague directly pertains to the Norse epics is the use of characters to display individuals virtues and vices. In the epics, virtues are symbolized by mighty heroes, like the courage of Beowulf or the loyalty of Sigrun in Saga of the Volungs; vices are commonly represented by monsters like envy as Grendel or the greed of Fafnir the dragon in Beowulf & Saga of the Volsungs, respectively. Regrettably, this is where Frank Norris breaks from epic convention, for the reason that none of them of his major characters stand for virtue. However, he symbolizes the vices of mankind admirably. He especially concentrates upon the devolutionary power of greed and the murderous affect of wrath and envy. Of course, to support my argument it's important to get parallels between your character types in McTeague and the monsters and principles in a few Norse epics.
'All I understand is that I am soldiered out of five-thousand dollars. '
'it's my credited - it's only justice'" (Norris 82-83).
In this landscape, Marcus is claiming that he deserves the amount of money that his cousin Trina earned in the lottery, since he gave up his suit of her for McTeague, his good friend at the time.
This puts the type in a similar light to Grendel. Grendel and his unnamed mom were exiled from individuals society, likely for their participation in a blood-feud. Grendel eliminates the warriors of Denmark's King Hrothgar while they observe in their mead-hall because of his envy for their happiness and fortune. This envious incarnation in Beowulf complies with his fate as a result of a heroic figure, who challenges him on his own unarmed terms (T. b. Liuzza). Marcus Schoeler dies, likewise, to the bare hands of McTeague (Norris 243).
This parallel between Marcus and Grendel is deeper than a simple coincidence. It could be similar due to old maxim that "there is nothing at all new under sunlight, " or it could be a similarity induced by Frank Norris' own familiarity with the old charming method of information (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The identical destiny awaits both characters, as defined above, and they're wiped out by their unarmed competitors, who drew them into battle by playing to their envious natures.
There are two characters whose obsession with money becomes a manifestation of real human greed. Trina McTeague is one of them. After she wins the lottery, she becomes obsessed with hoarding her money unto herself rather than posting it. She also will save you whatever money she (and her spouse) earns, even unto the detriment of her own health (Norris). In a single scene she is described as "[playing] with [her] money by the hour, piling it, and repiling it, or gathering everything into one heap again, she'd get the heap lovingly toward her and bury her face in it, delighted at the smell of computer and the feel of the smooth, cool metal upon her cheeks She cherished the money with an strength that she could not express" (Norris 170).
This love of riches and the desire to hoard exclusively for its sake is shown in the dragons of Norse mythology. In Saga of the Volsungs, the dragon whose name is Fafnir kills his father in order to take the ransom payed for his sibling Otter. Fafnir is slain with a hero who comes seeking glory and fortune, but as he goes by he lays the following curse, "that same gold will be your fatality [Sigurd], as it will be the death of most who have got it" (Byock 65). It is also shown by the obsessive guardianship of the Dragon in Beowulf, who continues on a rampage when he discovers that a single cup is absent from his hoard (T. b. Liuzza).
These characterizations are extremely similar, plus they all result in the same fates for individuals who follow the same journey. They are all slain by humans. Although exact circumstances will vary for each and every one, the overall notion is the same, Trina, Fafnir, and the Dragon in Beowulf are all undone by their greed, and they're all killed.
Some may claim that characterization could be applied to almost all of the personas in McTeague, especially Zerkow. The one problem with this idea is that Zerkow never actually has a proper hoard. In Norse epics, the dragons detailed are always in ownership of great riches that attracts the interest of the individual hero of the tale. Zerkow is referred to pretty specifically as being in ownership of nothing much better than "a unpleasant hovel" repeatedly throughout the novel (Norris).
Another interesting parallel is the cursed treasure. In McTeague, the storyline extends to its climax when McTeague kills his wife and will take her fortune. That is his voyage, as he tries to go to Mexico. Through some wyrd events he winds up going into Fatality Valley, the veritable underworld of this epic, with the platinum and is also captured by Marcus Schoeler. After he kills Schoeler, McTeague discovers himself handcuffed to a corpse in the middle of a desert with no water, staring at the golden cage of an parrot who he wouldn't give up and the pouch of golden cash that he stole (Norris 243). In Saga of the Volsungs Sigurd is killed by his in-laws after an object from Fafnir's hoard (the diamond ring Andvaranaut) is given as a marriage band double (to different women each time) (Byock). In Beowulf, the same treasure spells Beowulf's fatality sentence, and could have done the same for all your Geats experienced Wiglaf not had it burnt with Beowulf (T. b. Liuzza).
In all conditions, the desire to obtain, and the gold itself lead to the fatalities of those who have wanted it out. The dragons who presented it are wiped out by humans, who in the end are doomed completely by the financial treasure that they fought so hard to gain. As it is said at the end of Beowulf, "In the barrow they positioned rings and glowing jewels, / all the trappings that those reckless men/ had seized from the hoard before, / allow earth contain the treasures of earls, / gold in the bottom, where it yet remains, / just like unproductive to men as it was before" (T. b. Liuzza 79). Needless to say, Frank Norris uses his concluding scene to represent upon the prices of commercial America and the superficiality of his contemporaries' greed.
But it can't possibly be all bad. There needs to be some savior in McTeague. This is the circumstance, and the pair of characters eerily mirror both the activities and the circumstances of another pair of individuals in Saga of the Volsungs.
In McTeague, we live presented with the character of Old Grannis, who's referred to as an Englishman in his sixties would you book-binding. Were also presented with the character of Neglect Baker, a woman in her sixties who lives next-door to Old Grannis. Though they both act awkwardly in interpersonal situations when the other exists, they haven't been introduced formally. What finally brings these to be introduced is the fact Grannis sells these devices which he created for book-binding. Miss Baker, not reading him at work through their small partition of wall structure, takes tea to his apartment and will be offering him a cup. He accepts, and "together they [enter in] after the long retarded relationship of the commonplace and uneventful lives" (Norris 177-182). After this, they should never be pointed out again, and we are still left to believe that they live the others with their lives in happiness.
In Saga of the Volsungs, our company is presented with the subplot of the warrior Helgi. After a successful battle, Helgi comes across a large band of "women by the advantage of the forest driving in magnificent outfit" (Byock 48). He discovers that the girl at their mind is named Sigrun, and she actually is being sent to marry Hodbrodd, the kid of Ruler Granmar. She begs for Helgi to battle Hodbrodd and Granmar so that he may take her instead; which he does (Byock 48-50). This rite of proposal and challenge to take a partner is common in Norse legends, and was a common custom on the list of Germanic tribes like the Huns (to whom the Volsungs, including Helgi, belonged). After a successful battle at a location called Frekastein, "King Helgi assumed vitality in that kingdom and married Sigrun and became a famous and excellent ruler. And he is out of the saga" (Byock 50). Much like Old Grannis and Miss Baker, we live left to believe that these renowned characters live out the others with their life in peace.
In a strange twist, at the fight of Frekastein, Sigrun involves the aid of Helgi along with her group of shield-maidens (I. e. valkyries) (Byock 50). Sigrun's assistance for Helgi is shown in Miss Baker bringing tea (a notably British isles custom) to Old Grannis; making him feel significantly better and brings them nearer. Also, in a similar manner, when these chapters end, both pairs are never stated again. In both instances, readers are kept with the impression that the heroes will live long and be prosperous, whether that wealth be emotional or monetary. The one difference is that people are blatantly informed in Saga of the Volsungs that the personas acquired long lives. In McTeague we are remaining with the impression that this would be the case, but the finishing of the picture is ambiguous, much like the end of the book. In both situations, these are sub-plots, and therefore not the most crucial point of the storyplot.
The most important point that may be drawn out of this is that Frank Norris was an educated copy writer whose work used every one of the conventions of the Norse epic to make a novelized research of individual vice. He talks specifically to the nature of real human greed by keeping it in human terms, rather than making use of majestic imagery to the same ideas. By transforming the monsters like Grendel into individual equivalents he preserves the realism of the American Naturalists while still developing a fulfilling description. This Ameri-Norse epic redefines a vintage archetype while concurrently fulfilling the structure of the most popular literary genre of its time. That is why we keep in mind McTeague, regardless of the despicability of the people.
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