The Rise of Realism 1850-1900
Historical Background • Population 42 million: Immigration now from eastern Europe, Russia, Scandinavian countries
Transportation • Key to settlement, shapes subject matter, and attitudes of writers
Unresolved Challenges • Civil War • No more slaves • Growth of industry • Causes slums and labor unrest • Agricultural problems
Realism in literature • Takes the place of Romanticism • Portrays ordinary life as real people live it • Attempts to show characters and events in an objective, almost factual way
Realism in Literature • Portrays the brutal frontier life. • Portrays the problems with cities, slums, and labor unionscorruption • Realism finds meaning in the commonplace
Rise in Realism • Realistic writers can deal honestly with characters that Romantic writers either avoided or glossed over such as factory workers, bosses, politicians, and gunfighters.
Naturalism • More than realism—naturalism shows the inescapable work through natural forces • People have no control over events (writers tended to be pessimistic) • Naturalist writer—Jack London
Naturalism • Destiny is decided by: • Heredity • Environment • Physical drives • Economic circumstances
Regionalism • Also called Local Color Movement • Emphasis on specific geographic setting; can be sentimental/unrealistic • Regional dialect (speech/manners)
Regionalism • Portrays vivid descriptions of landscapes • Seeks to capture essence of life in various regions of growing nation
Literature During this Period • Short stories, novels, poetry, and muckraking journalism • Famous writers: • Stephen Crane • Henry James • Jack London • Harriet Beecher Stowe • Kate Chopin • W. E. B. Dubois • Willa Cather
Elements of Realism • Real-life situation (ethical struggles and social issues) • Ordinary characters and realistic events • Everyday speech patterns are used to reveal class and geographic distinctions (regionalism)
Realism, Naturalism, and Realism • Realism, Regionalism, and Naturalism are intertwined and connected. • Their influence has dominated most literature created since 1920, though the movement itself is dated to roughly that point. • They are truly American modes of writing.