Naturalism period of American Literature - 1880-1900

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Naturalism is a sub-genre of realism

Content:

  • dominant themes: survival fate violence taboo
  • nature is an indifferent force acting on humans
  • "brute within" each individual is comprised of strong and warring emotions such as
  • greed, power, and fight for survival in an amoral, indifferent world.

Genre/Style:

  • short story, novel
  • characters usually lower class or lower middle class
  • fictional world is commonplace and unheroic; everyday life is a dull round of daily existence
  • characters ultimately emerge to act heroically or adventurously with acts of violence, passion, and/or bodily strength in a tragic ending

Effect:

  • this type of literature continues to capture audiences in present day: the pitting of man against nature

Historical Context:

  • writers reflect the ideas of Darwin (survival of the fittest) and Karl Marx (how money and class structure control a nation)

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Do you think speaker in William Wadsworth's poem " Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" regrets his loss of youth?

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