The Literature of Realism

Topics: Theodore Dreiser, Mark Twain, American literature Pages: 9 (2279 words) Published: March 2, 2013
The Literature of Realism (1)
I. Background
• 1. three fundamental issues:
1) conflict between the agrarianism and the industrialism 2) the conflict between the South and the North
3) the conflict between the East and the West
• 2. reaction against “the lie” of romanticism and sentimentalism • 3. battle between “idealists” and “realists” • 4. more attention to the immediate facts of life
5. the year 1865 an important shift from Romanticism to Realism a most significant event → the holocaust or destruction of the Civil War ● a notable impact on American literature and art ● a profound emotional and philosophical impact on thinkers and writers ◆ some changes 1) putting to rest the romantic concept of war Romantics: a glorious, grand and noble encounter, something heroic Realists: a way of destroying romantic outlook on life a negative review of war — its destruction 2) changing the romantic concept of man

Romantics: man as “the noblest work of God”
Realists: man as a product of the environment, of his heredity, of fate or chance 3) stimulating industrialization
A. an explosive growth of business and industry a period of amazing engineering achievements, a period of frantic building and expansion B. the emergence of an urban civilization a period of great plunder and exploitation, of greedy materialism and political corruption C. the miserable social ills the voices of criticism and voices of anger 4) becoming the “melting-pot” society the influx of millions of immigrants — more freedom or a better living, or both — a land of opportunity 5) changing the concept of reality

Romantics: the romantic concept of reality, the spiritual reality Realists: the visibly concrete world, the physical reality II. Major Features of American Realism
• 1. truthful treatment of material
1) examining characters in depth
A. the individual — highly
B. the function of environment — shaping character C. characterization — the center of the story D. the effect of action on characters
E. the psychology of the people in the story
2) open ending
• 2. commonness of the lives of the common people
3. objectivity; an objective view of human nature and human experience • 4. moral visions
1) the problems of the individual conscience in conflict with social institutions • 2) focusing on the dilemma
III. Local Color Fiction
1. Background 1) the shift of the publishing center:
A. a new freedom B. a greater openness
2) the growth of communication and transportation
3) the rapid growth of local magazines
• 2. Local-color Realism or Regionalism
1) a quality in literature fidelity to a particular geographical section and a faithful representation of its habits, speech, manners, history, folklore, or beliefs 2) a subordinate order of realism unique in his or her living section 3) more popular after the Civil War 4) a new freedom

5) much more interested in learning about life in other parts of the country 6) the desire to preserve distinctive ways of life and to come to terms with the harsh realities • 3. Representatives

women: Mary E. Wilking Freeman, Sarah Orne Jewett and Harriet Beecher Stowe: New England Kate Chopin: Louisiana men: Bret Harte: the Far West O. Henry: New York City Mark Twain: the Mississippi River • 4. Local Color Fiction

1) a form of regionalism: local colorism A. people’s realization B. asserting their unique identity and seeking understanding and recognition C. the frontier humorists’ preparation

D. the appearance of a lot of magazines
2) a quality of circumstantial authenticity
A. not only an...
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