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Realism

An introduction to American Realism
by

Colleen Davis

on 24 September 2016

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Transcript of Realism

Realism
Realism grew out of Regionalism, or Local Color, which focused on specific geographical settings, faithfully portraying the customs, speech, and manners of the people living in that region.
Realism was more successful than regionalism in its ability to accurately portray social conditions and human motivation.
Sought to explain why ordinary people behave the way they do.
Characters are complex with temperaments and motives that reflect reality.

Attempted to use literature to examine social institutions and to elicit reform.
Discusses the social questions perplexing Americans.
“Smiling Reality” portrayed an America where people may act foolishly, but their good qualities eventually emerge and take precedence.
Naturalist writers believed that forces beyond the individual’s power determined human behavior. Nature, fate, and heredity were powerful forces dictating human behavior.
Jack London
Some believe that humans were completely subjected to the natural laws of the universe; like animals, they lived crudely, by instinct, unable to control their own destinies.
Human life was seen as a grim, losing battle due to the limited choices and motivations of humans.
Naturalist writers are more likely than realist writers to write about extraordinary and unsavory topics and to infuse a political stance in their writing
Edith Wharton
Stephen Crane
Fiction was used to examine human behavior objectively.
All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.
Ernest Hemingway
Is character driven: character development became the central focus and was more important than action and plot.
Focuses on real life: faithfully represents the environment and manners of everyday life.
The Civil War and the harshness of frontier life shattered American idealism. Realism was a reaction against romanticism and fanciful and imagined ideals.

Sought to explain why ordinary people behave the way they do.
Characters are complex with temperaments and motives that reflect reality.
Regionalist writers were often times too sentimental and unrealistic in their depiction of character and social environment.

Realism was more successful than regionalism in its ability to accurately portray social conditions and human motivation.

Realism focused on ordinary people, problems, and situations.
Realist writers depicted people living in the slums of rapidly growing cities, poor factory workers, corrupt politicians, and prostitutes; hence, it was focused on the individual.
Realism was experimental and deviated from the expectations of literature.
Characters speak like ordinary folk; dialects and vernacular replace the poetic, literary language of the past.
Naturalism grew out of realism and was influenced by the scientific disciplines of psychology and sociology.
Naturalism
American Literary Movement spanning late 1800s and early 1900s focusing on real-life.
Willa Cather
Walt Whitman
Full transcript