Compare and Contrast a Literary Element essay

Compareand Contrast a Literary Element

Aliterary element is critical in the analysis of a literature worksince it helps in analyzing the contents of the literature work. Forinstance, through the use of different literary elements, it ispossible to analyze the contents of a given book. There are differentliterary elements, which include plot, setting, characters, themes,and point of view among others. This paper will use themes as theliterary element of comparing and contrasting “Maggie:A Girl of the Streets” and“Ragtime”.The themes will be used in showing how the authors of the two booksevoke meaning, mood, and emotions in their writing.

Maggie:A Girl of the Streets”

Thisbook has been written by Stephen Crane. The book mainly covers thestory of Maggie, a young girl who has been driven to unfortunatesituations by solitude and poverty. The book follows the story ofMaggie, her family, as well as the neighborhood of the place thatthey live and their encounters.


Thisbook has been written by E.L. Doctorow. The book tells a story of awhite family that finds a black baby in the family’s yard and takesthe mother as a maid. The book shows how the two families the blackand white, behave in terms of the relationship that they develop.

Similaritiesin Themes in the Two Books

In“Maggie:A Girl of the Streets” and“Ragtime”,there are certain themes that can be considered to emerge as similar.One of the themes from the two authors that are similar is the themeof human struggle to attain stability. This theme is presented byboth authors. In the “Ragtime”,the author presents different characters to be in a struggle as theyattempt to gain stability. In this book, the author shows howdifferent characters face challenges and the manner in which theexperiences of the characters change them. Doctorow emphasizes on theprocess through which different characters try to reconcile their owndesires for stability using their knowledge that the events of lifeusually seem to have no reason or direction (Doctorow 42). Forinstance, Morgan asks Ford whether it was possible to have universalpatterns of repetition and order, which would offer a meaning to theactivities of the planet. Their discussion concerning reincarnationis a reflection of their desire to seek more outside the field ofwhat is known so as to give life meaning. The musings of Morgan andthe journey to the Egyptian pyramids shows his struggle in life as hetries to attain stability. Also, Dreiser is depicted in the book asto constantly shift the position of his chair so as to align himselfcorrectly, but he is indicated to never attain satisfaction. Thisimplies that despite Dreiser trying different ways in making his lifestable, he never attains stability. Furthermore, the struggle toattain stability can also be indicated through Peary’s trip to theNorth Pole, and the inability of pinpointing the exact position ofNorth Pole.

In“Maggie:A Girl of the Streets”,struggle for stability is evident through different characters in thebook as they try to adapt to the environment in their surroundings.The environment that is presented by the author is that of a slum(Craneand Alfred 46).From the setting of this environment, it is evident that individualshave to struggle or use strength to attain stability. From the book,Maggie is depicted to struggle for stability as she encountered Pete.The attraction of Maggie towards Pete is not based on the romancethat she has towards him alone, but it is also based on theprotection that she really deserves. Also, although Pete claims tohave great strength, he is eventually undone by his infatuation withNell, who uses charms to make him helpless (Vahnenbruck64).This is an indication that Pete is still struggling for stability.

Thetwo authors have used the theme of struggle to attain stability toshow how difficult it is for the characters in the two books toattain stability. A tone that emerges from this theme is that ofun-satisfaction since individuals in the two books seems unsatisfiedin their undertakings. The theme also attempts to give the charactersin the two books the emotions that they tend to have. As thecharacters attempt to attain stability through struggle, it isapparent that it would be difficult for the characters to expressjoy. Thus, from this theme, characters can be indicated to beemotionally disturbed.

Anothertheme that is similar in both books is the theme of universality ofhuman experience. In the books, both authors tend to indicate thathuman experiences are universal. In“Maggie:A Girl of the Streets”, althoughdifferent individuals in the neighborhood are depicted to go throughviolence, poverty, and neglect, these individuals are shown to livein the neighborhood with unity. For instance, in the book, althoughMary Johnson tends to abuse her neighbors, the neighbors do notabandon her during time of grief as she mourns over Maggie’s death(Craneand Phyllis 72).Through these neighbors coming together, they show that they aretogether in sharing their experiences. Inthe “Ragtime”,although characters seem to have different societal norms, they tendto have similar experiences that make them work together or handlesituations together. For instance, despite Mother having differentsocietal norms from Tateh, they end up marrying, which is anindication that humans in the novel went through universalexperiences.

Theauthors of the two books have used the theme of universality of humanexperiences in giving meaning to the emotions of characters towardsone another. In this case, the emotions that come out are that oflove and togetherness. This is because the characters are depicted tobe concerned with one another, and form relationships that tend tohelp one another. Through the theme of universality of humanexperiences, the authors of the two books try to give out the meaningthat human experiences are the same, despite humans being different.

Differencesin Themes between the Two Books

Despitethe similarities in themes amid the two books, there are differencesin themes between the two books. In the “Ragtime”,there is the theme of difficulty of accepting change, which islacking in“Maggie: A Girl of the Streets”.In the “Ragtime”,somecharacters are depicted to accept change while some reject change andtend to struggle with it. For instance, Father is not in a positionto abide by the changes he comes across upon his return from hisjourney. He becomes depressed by the feeling of alienation that heexperiences emanating the change. However, this is different in thecase of Mother. In the absence of Father, Mother develops newabilities and finds her new freedoms liberating. This is anindication that Father resisted change while Mother accepted change.From this theme, the author can be indicated to imply thatindividuals may accept or reject change depending on theopportunities that the change presents.

Also,another difference in the themes as depicted in the two books is thatboth authors develop the theme of culture, but it is developeddifferently in the two books. In the “Ragtime”,culture is depicted to be impacted by technological developments forinstance, as J.P. Morgan discusses with Henry Ford about the assemblyline innovations of Ford, it is apparent that technology developmentis affecting the manner in which society carries out its practices(Doctorow 38). However, in “Maggie:A Girl of the Streets”,although culture has been depicted to be present in society throughthe different undertakings of the characters, the author does not inany way depict the impact of technological developments on culture(Sorrentinoet al. 64).


In“Maggie:A Girl of the Streets” and“Ragtime”,the authors have used similar as well as different themes incommunicating to the audiences. One of the themes from the twoauthors that are similar is the theme of human struggle to attainstability. This theme is presented by both authors. In the “Ragtime”,the author presents different characters to be in struggle as theyattempt to gain stability. Anothertheme that is similar in both books is the theme of universality ofhuman experience. In the books, both authors tend to indicate thathuman experiences are universal. Inthe “Ragtime”,there is the theme of difficulty of accepting change, which islacking in“Maggie: A Girl of the Streets”.Also, inthe “Ragtime”,culture is depicted to be impacted by technological developments, butthis is not the case in “Maggie:A Girl of the Streets”.


Crane,Stephen and Alfred Kazin. Maggie,a Girl of the Streets and Selected Stories.New York, NY: Signet Classic, 2006. Print.

Crane,Stephen and Phyllis Frus. TheRed Badge of Courage, Maggie: a Girl of the Streets, and OtherSelected Writings Complete Texts with Introduction HistoricalContexts, Critical Essays.Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print.

Doctorow,E L. Ragtime.New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2010. Print.

Sorrentino,Paul M and Stephen Crane. StudentCompanion to Stephen Crane.Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2006. Print.

Vahnenbruck,Kim. Environmentof Maggie in Crane`s &quotmaggie: A Girl of the Streets&quot.S.l.: Grin Verlag Ohg, 2011. Print.