Realism In The Gilded Age

1374 Words 6 Pages
Towards the end of the 1860s, the period of American Romanticism—in which westward expansion was glamorized and the “American” identity was beginning to take shape— was coming to an end. The promise of prosperity from manifest destiny and the arts movement born from American Romanticism, that embraced nature, individualism and sentimentalism, was beginning to be overshadowed by the rise of realism during the Gilded age. The Gilded Age at the end of the 20th century was a time of booming industrialization, urbanization, and economic growth for the United States, but it was also a time of violence and strife for the lower classes— as the economy grew and industries expanded, conditions worsened for the working class and only a small percent of …show more content…
Because of the harsh conditions they were forced to endure, rebellions and strikes became a popular method of attempting to gain control over the labor market in order to improve their conditions and raise their wages— but these strikes made city life dangerous. Whereas paintings made it easy to romanticize American life, and literature during the American Romanticism era made it easy to fantasize, there was no room for fantasy in this new hardened America. Realism during the Gilded age caused a new wave of American Literature— literature that challenged readers to look past myths of the American utopia and the promise of the wild prosperous west in order to see America as it was. It focused on lower middle classes depicting daily life in gritty and sometimes unpleasant detail. Both Maggie, Girl of the Streets and Sister Carrie are novels that portray the struggles of urban America and provide a window into city life during the Gilded …show more content…
Carry travels to Chicago to stay with her sister and on the way she meets a charming man named Drouet, who seems taken by her. As Carrie struggles to make a living while living at her Sisters, whose family is just as poor as Carrie, she becomes hungry for an upper class life. Drouet takes Carrie out and buys her things and shows her the finer parts of city life— and even got her a short gig as an actress— which only makes Carrie hungrier for wealth. Carrie leaves her sisters and moves in with Drouet, which was considered highly inappropriate at the time, and as they spend more time together Carrie realizes Drouet isn’t the ideal man of wealth she wants. Carrie meets Drouets friend, George Hurstwood, who manages a saloon and is fairly wealthy; both Hurstwood and Carrie start taking a liking to each other and start having an affair. Once their affair is revealed Hurstwood’s wife divorces him and threatens to take his estate and Drouet moves out to scare Carrie. Hurstwood and Carrie runaway and Hurstwood marries Carrie and they move to New York. Hurstwood hopes to find a good paying job so he can support the wealthy lifestyle he is use to and Carrie craves. As time passes the negative effects of lower class city life start to take a toll on their marriage and Hurstwood himself. He looses his job, becomes an alcoholic, and eventually stays in the house. Carrie, on the

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