Presentation on theme: "The Moderns. The American Dream – First Element The first central idea of the American dream was America as a new Eden. It was a land of beauty, bounty,"— Presentation transcript:
The American Dream – First Element The first central idea of the American dream was America as a new Eden. It was a land of beauty, bounty, and unlimited promise. The promise and disappointment of this period is illustrated by Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby.
Fitzgerald’s societal statements The work appeared when great wealth and the pursuit of pleasure had become a primary focus of many wealthy people. Gatsby (Fitzgerald) believes in an America that is virtually disappearing under the degradations of modern life. Nick (Fitzgerald) is left wondering about the promise of the American dream.
Second Element - Optimism Many people expect an ever-expanding opportunity and abundance. Americans believed in progress. They believed that life keeps getting better and that they were moving toward an era of prosperity, justice, and joy.
Third Element – Individual triumph People believed that an American was independent and self-reliant. Ralph Waldo Emerson was credited with the concept of the American dream and the self-reliant individual.
Ralph Waldo Emerson Responsible for “new Eden,” “things are going to get better all the time,” and trust the universe and trust yourself. “If the single man plant himself indomitable on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will round to him,” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Breakdown of Beliefs and Traditions Post war writers became skeptical of the New England Puritan tradition and the gentility that had been central to literature. The focus on the New England writers started to shift. A new group of writers was recognized: called the modernist writers. They primarily came from the South, the Midwest, and the West.
Marxism During World War I the marxist movement was powered by the Russian revolution in 1917. The socialistic beliefs of Karl Marx(1818-1883) were in direct opposition to the American system of capitalism and free enterprise. Marxists threatened to extend their revolution into America.
Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud opened up the workings of the subconscious mind. There was an anxiety about the fact that if our subconscious mind controlled our actions then we did not control our own fate. The concept of “free will” was once again speculated and debated.
Stream of consciousness This was a literary movement was a result of the interest in the psyche. This style abandoned chronology and attempted to imitate the moment-by-moment flow of a character’s perceptions and memories.
Author’s that used stream of consciousness James Joyce used stream of consciousness in Ulysses. Katherine Anne Porter William Faulkner
Prohibition Because of the 1919 law prohibiting the sale of alcohol, an age of bootleggers, speakeasies, the cocktail and flappers developed. F. Scott Fitzgerald gave the time period the name: The Jazz Age. Edna St. Vincent Millay a female Casanova, wrote poetry and gave women characters the opportunity to be portrayed as intellectual, and romantic. This was a role previously reserved for male characters.
The New American Hero Disillusionment was a major theme in the fiction of the time. Sinclair Lewis (1920) lashed out satirically at the narrow-mindedness of small town America in the novel Main Street. The most influential post war writer was Ernest Hemingway. He reduced the flamboyance of literary language to a minimum, to the bare bones of the truth it must express.
Hemingway’s Hero He introduced a type of hero that people considered a protagonist and a role model. His hero is a man of action, a warrior, and a tough competitor. The most important trait of Hemingway’s hero is that he is thoroughly disillusioned. Hemingway feared that at the center of creation lay nothing at all. He did believe that people should snatch up the rare, good, rich moments that life offers before those moments elude us.
Modernists Influence in Poetry Poets explored a new way to see and represent reality. Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot were responsible for symbolism. Pound also spear headed a movement called imagism. E.E. Cummings and Wallace Stevens were two poets that embraced these new methods of writing poetry.