Realism 1865-1915 The Culture That Influenced Realism




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Realism

  • 1865-1915


The Culture That Influenced Realism



American writers continued to push for a uniquely “American” body of literature.



The Railroad

  • The railroad opened up the Midwest and West to travelers.

  • People saw the realities of the nation, good and bad.



Photography

  • This new invention made a realistic view of the world possible and popular.

  • Matthew Brady’s civil war photographs were especially shocking.



Population Explosion

  • The urban areas became densely crowded.

  • Writers focused on the individual, because people in cities were becoming more and more like insects traveling in packs.

  • Strove to reemphasize free will and individualism.



Capitalism

  • The wealthy became wealthier. The poor, poorer.

  • Writers focused on the “common man” to show the negativity of a Capitalist society.



Influential People

  • Charles Darwin: “Survival of the fittest” is a very realistic (not idealistic) view point.

  • Karl Marx: Communism is preferable to the negative realism of Capitalism.

  • Sigmund Freud: Our fate is determined and we are at the mercy of our darker drives and instincts.



Realism

  • What is it?

  • An attempt to write literature that shows the world as it really was…as a photograph would capture it.



Characteristics of Realism

  • Deliver the “plain and simple truth”.

  • Filled works with facts drawn from everyday life, both positive and negative.

  • Everyday people in everyday situations, no fantastic, or magical voyages.



Characteristics of Realism

  • Settings are real places the author has seen…”local color”

  • Dialects are specific to regions…no more “Queen’s English”

  • Celebration of the individual.



Characteristics of Realism

  • One main character in a moral struggle.

  • Focuses on the psychology of the characters and their internal struggles with the world.

  • Generally plot driven. There is a conflict that must be resolved.



Names to Know



Mark Twain

  • Real name “Samuel Clemens”

  • Wrote “the great American novel”, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  • Obsessed with the Mississippi and often wrote about it.

  • Writer, humorist, lecturer…probably America’s most famous author.



Other Important Realists

  • Willa Cather: Depicted the struggles of women in the West. My Antonia, and O Pioneers!

  • Hamlin Garland: West Salem’s own realist. Wrote about Midwest farm life. “Under the Lion’s Paw.”

  • Jack London: Most famous naturalist. “To Build a Fire”, The Call of the Wild.

  • Booker T. Washington: Became the African American leader of the times. Rose from slavery to become a well recognized writer and lecturer.



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