The Age of Realism

What is character but the determination of an incident? What is the incident but the illustration of Character?
◦ Henry James

. ◦ The writer does not select facts in accord with preconceived ideals.” ◦ Grounded in the belief that there is an objective reality which can be portrayed with truth and accuracy as the goal. a literary doctrine calling for “reality and truth in the depiction of ordinary life.Realism  Begins in France. as realisme. but rather sets down observations impartially and objectively.

Henry James Publishes Portrait of a Lady 1881-Clara Barton Founds the Red Cross 1881.Massacre at Wounded Knee 1895 X Ray Discovered 1896 First Modern Olympics 1900.Aspirin Invented 1903 Wright Brothers fly first plane 1906.Spanish American War 1899.Albert Einstein formulates the Theory of Relativity 1910-Jane Adams publishes Twenty Years at Hull House Henry Ford Builds first Model T and The Assembly line Sigmund Freud Publishes The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis 1913-Willa Cather Publishes O Pioneers 1912.Mark Twain publishes Huckleberry Finn 1883-Brooklyn Bridge built 1894. Albert Scweitzer opens clinic in Africa 1914 WWI Begins .Kate Chopin Publishes Bayou Folk 1885 first Skyscraper built in Chicago First Gas Powered Automobile 1894.Theodore Dreiser publishes Sister Carrie 1898.Stephen Crane publishes Red Badge of Courage 1890.HMS Titanic Sinks 1914-Dr.1881.Booker T Washington Found the Tuskegee Institute 1884.Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle 1905.

543 Casualties  The North lost one out of ten  110. which would be 165 billion today .6 billion.000 to disease  Two percent of US population died in the Civil War.100 in battle  224.580 to disease  The South lost one out of four  94.The Age of Realism: Marked by the End of the Civil War: 1861-1865  Cost of the Civil War ◦ The Human Cost  1. with only WWII claiming more lives.094. ◦ Economic Cost  Estimated at 6.000 in battle  64.


skilled workers replaced by semi-skilled laborers.  .The Effects of The Industrial Revolution Migration from rural to urban areas  Independent. devaluing the personal relationship between management and workers or company and customers.  Large corporations were established.

3 million telephones in U.S. 1. Coast-to-coast travel Transcontinental Railroad (1869) By 1889.Mass Communication and Migration  Coast-to-coast communication ◦ Pony Express (1860)—10 days Telegraph (1861)—just seconds to communicate across country Transatlantic telegraph cable (1866) allowed instant communicate with Europe Telephone patented (1867) By 1900. coast-to-coast travel—4 days .

from the Atlantic to the Pacific ◦ Native American populations displaced and subjugated.  Growth of Industry ◦ Steelmaking.S. the nation’s dominant industry ◦ Alternating electrical current (1886) ◦ American petroleum industry begins  Growth of population ◦ Total population doubled from 1870 to 1890 ◦ National income quadrupled ◦ Gap between rich and poor widened .Other Social Changes  Migration westward expanded the U.

Changes in science Changes in psychology Changes in philosophy INTELLECTUAL REVOLUTION: CHANGES IN THINKING BROUGHT ABOUT BY CHANGES IN SOCIETY .

◦ Hypothesized that man is the product of evolution. ◦ Man is special not because God created him in His image.Science: Charles Darwin  Published The Origin of Species.  but because man had successfully adapted to changing environmental conditions  and had passed on his survival-making characteristics to his progeny. .

usually sexual. and Super-ego  .  Id.  Theorized an unconscious system of ideas that governs human reactions and response.Psychology: Sigmund Freud Believed that the mind could be understood in terms of repressed urges. Ego.

 .Philosophy: Karl Marx Explained human history as the result of class struggles.  It is human nature to transform nature.  Human identity is defined by social context.

It’s perceptible to the senses and verifiable through experience. Truth is a commodity accessible on the surface of things.Philosophy: American Pragmatism     Truth is tested by its usefulness or practical consequences. Permanent truths exist apart from the material world—the mind of God. Plato’s ideal forms William James .

Mark Twain and Willa Cather REGIONALISM AND LOCAL COLOR .

“Nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material. “ William Dean Howells .A Reaction against Romanticism  Authors sought to portray life as they saw it. insisting that the ordinary and local were just as suitable for art as the sublime.

Key Concepts 1. mannerism. and beliefs of people in specific locales Local-color writing that “paints” the local scene and the trends toward the humorous or the sentimental . behavior. 2. celebrate and mythologize the cast diversity of the US diverse regions Pay Strict attention to recording accurately the speech. Desire to record. 3.

Characters—more concerned with the character of the region than an individual—quaint. Narrator-. ◦ ◦ ◦ III. stereotypical. I. revolves around the community and its rituals .Characteristics of Local Color Setting—often remote and usually integral to the story. educated observer from the world beyond who’s often deceived Emphasis on dialect Use of stock characters Plot—nothing much happens.

Tall tale-tradition. Dislike of change. Triumphant trickster or trickster tricked.Themes in Local Color 1. conflicts described humorously. 3. nostalgia for an always-past Golden Age. larger than life . 2.


Mark Twain aka Samuel Clemens  Born in Missouri ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Steamboat pilot Typesetter Gold prospector Ex confederate soldier ◦ Journalist ◦ Prose writer  Loved to exaggerate the truth and create tall tales ◦ Notable works  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn  Life on the Mississippi  “Fiction is obliged to stick to the possibilities. Truth Isn’t” Twain .

including metaphors.Key elements to Twain A realistic approach reflects the people and characteristics of the region  Vernacular Speech. the everyday language of people who live in a particular society and locale  Colorful figures of speech. simile and hyperbole are used to add humor and vitality  .

Willa Cather Born in Nebraska  Influenced by growing up in the Wild Wild West of the US  Studied at the University of Nebraska  Found literary success in the muckraking magazine Mclure’s  ◦ Served as writer and editor  Notable Works ◦ My Antonia ◦ A Wager Matinee ◦ O Pioneers! .


Complex ethical choices often the subject 3. Point of View—omniscient and objective Characters—middle class. 3. 2. 4. Events are made to seem the inevitable result of characters’ choices . the truthful representation of life. Subject matter—ordinary people and events. Purpose—Verisimilitude. Focus on everyday life 2. psychological realism Plot de-emphasized 1.Characteristics of Realism 1. 5.

. leaving much untold to suggest man’s limited ability to make sense of his life.Themes in Realism  Humans control their destinies ◦ characters act on their environment rather than simply reacting to it.  Slice-of-life technique ◦ often ends without traditional formal closure.

Key Concepts 1. 2. Realism reacts against Romanticism and its idealized heroes and sensational situations It aims at an accurate and unsentimental depiction of social issues and problems .

.Psychological Determinism  Man is a victim of his inner and subconscious self (Freud).


 Setting commonplace and un-heroic  Novelist discovers qualities in lower class characters usually associated with heroes   ◦ Suggestion that life on lowest levels is more complicated .Objectives of Naturalism Presentation is objective and detached Subject matter—raw and unpleasant experiences which reduce people to degrading circumstances in order to survive.

◦ Scientific determinism ◦ Psychological determinism ◦ Historical determinism .Naturalism: A Harsher Realism Definition: A literature that depicts social problems and views humans as victims of larger biological. psychological and social and economic forces.

Themes in Naturalism Man is fundamentally an animal. environment or heredity control behavior. ◦ Struggle for life becomes heroic and affirms human dignity  Pessimistic view of human capabilities—life is a trap .  Governed by determinism  ◦ External and internal forces. without free will. ◦ Characters have compensating humanistic values which affirm life.

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