Realism in American Literature

Realism in American Literature

Realism in American Literature 1865 (Civil War era) to 1914 What is Realism? A faithful representation of reality in literature, also known as verisimilitude. (authentic) Emphasis on development of believable characters. Written in natural vernacular, or dialect. American Literature The Puritan Era 1600 - 1750

Age of ReasonRationalis m 1750-1800 Realism Romanticism Transcendentalism 1800-1840 1840-1855 1865-1915 Contemporary and

Post-Modern Period Modernism 1916-1946 1946 Present Historical Context Population of the United States is growing rapidly. (1865 -1915) Science, industry and transportation are expanding. Literature also was growing, but most new writers were not Romantics or Transcendentalists. They are Realists. The Frontier did not exist as before; its legacy changed and impacted Realists in its new form. The aftermath of the Civil War meant that Americans were less certain and optimistic about the future.

The idealism of the Romantics and philosophy of Transcendentalists seemed out of date and irrelevant to many readers. Development Reaction to Civil War suffering Invention of photograph Captured true life Increased literacy and democracy led to a public hungry for truth and awareness Abolitionism and post-slavery stories Dark side of America Origins of Muckraking journalism Expose corruption, particularly political & corporate (continues today) Literature affected: tried to do the same

Realism vs. Romanticism The trapper was placed on a rude seat which had been made with studied careHis body was placed so as to let the light of the setting sun fall full upon the solemn features. His head was bare, the long thin locks of gray fluttering lightly in the evening breeze. He was most fifty and he looked it. His hair was long and tangled and greasy, and you could see his eyes shining throughthere

warnt no color in his face; it was whitea white to make a body sicka tree-toad white, a fish belly white. As for his clothes, just rags, thats all. Realism in American Literature The purpose of the writing is to instruct and entertain Character is more important than plot. Subject matter is drawn from real life experience.

The realists reject symbolism and romanticizing of subjects. Settings are usually those familiar to the author. Plots emphasized the norm of daily experience Ordinary characters What is Regionalism? Often called local color. Focuses on characters, dialect, customs, topography, and other features specific to a certain region (ex. the South) Coincided with Realism and sharing many of the same traits. Focus on small geographical area in an attempt to reproduce the dialect and mannerisms What is Naturalism Branch of Realism

Applied scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to the study of human beings. Philosophical position: scientific laws control life Influenced by Darwinism Natural Selection Survival of the Fittest Psychology (Freud) Darker & more fatalistic (fatalistic = determined by fate, not choice) Lives governed by heredity, instinct, & passion Nature NOT nurture. Forces beyond a characters control restrict attempts to exercise free will or choice Literature- often depicts man in conflict with nature, society, or himself.

Why did Naturalism develop? The swell of immigrants in the latter half of the 19th century, which led to a larger lower class and increased poverty in the cities The prominence of psychology and the theories of Sigmund Freud Pessimism in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction Publication of Charles Darwins Origin of the Species Common Conventions of the Literature Characters product of social & environmental factors Often poorly educated or lower class

Renders reality closely and often in minute detail, even at the expense of plot Settings usually familiar to the writer Character development more important than plot Plausible events avoid sensational, overly dramatic elements

Usually uses the omniscient point of view Prominent Authors Realists Mark Twain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Stephen Crane Red Badge of Courage Upton Sinclair The Jungle William Dean Howells Kate Chopin Story of an Hour, Desirees Baby, The Awakening Naturalists Jack London

Call of the Wild, To Build a Fire Stephen Crane Maggie: Girl of the Street Henry James Portrait of a Lady, Daisy Miller John Steinbeck Of Mice & Men (debatable)

Recently Viewed Presentations