Presentation on theme: "Early American Literature 1865-1910. Realism and how to recognize it Realism tries hard to present the world as it really is -- the way, for instance,"— Presentation transcript:
Early American Literature
Realism and how to recognize it Realism tries hard to present the world as it really is -- the way, for instance, a photograph might capture it. Since it tries so hard to be truthful, realist literature, unlike much of the "romantic" writing that preceded it, never feels overblown, the way a fairy tale or a parable or a dream might. It's rarely sentimental or emotional. It just reads like a plain and sensible account of whatever action it's describing. (ex. “Story of an Hour”)
More characteristics of Realism Realism generally celebrates the individual. Most realist works feature a central character who has to deal with some moral struggle, hopefully to arrive at an important moral victory or realization before the story's over. And this, relatedly, often means that much of the "action" in realist lit is internal action: We hear a lot about what's going on in the central character's head; we learn a lot about his or her psychology.
Naturalism Naturalism is an outgrowth of realism and is prominent from Like realism, it wants to present an almost photographically accurate version of "real" life. It's full of facts and details about an everyday world ordinary people may well recognize. Its characters speak the same dialects real Americans speak. And it's generally plot driven.
How to distinguish Realism from Naturalism Naturalism's central belief, in fact, is that individual human beings are at the mercy of uncontrollable larger forces that originate both inside and outside them. These forces might include some of our more "animal" drives, such as the need for food, sex, shelter, social dominance, etc. Or, in a more "external" vein, these forces might include the natural environment, the man-made environment, or finance, industry, and the economy.
Famous Authors of Both Movements Realism: Henry James, Mark Twain, Kate Chopin Naturalism: Stephen Crane, Upton Sinclair
Preparing for the Test You will need to be familiar with the background information found in this PowerPoint. You will need to be familiar with the characters, plot, and conflicts from “The Open Boat,” “To Build a Fire,” “The Story of an Hour,” “Richard Cory,” and “Arctic Dreams.” If presented with a given conflict, you should be able to distinguish whether it is man v. man, man v. nature, or man v. self.