Thesis Ideas Essay

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American Realism

The Civil War tore the country apart. Once America was reunited in 1865, there was a lot of healing that needed to take place to correct the wounds Americans had suffered at the hands of their kin. In these years there were still a lot of questions to answer and still a lot of truth to be found out about the nation itself. The questions of the place of African-Americans, white Americans, political Americans and every other kind of American out there was a source for constant frustration and violence. This is the background and the huge dust storm that American Realism rose out of.

Prior to the Civil War, America was knee deep in the Romantic Movement which included writers such as Hawthorne, Thoreau, Melville, Poe
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In American literature, the term "realism" encompasses the period of time from the Civil War (1860's) to the turn of the century (1890-1900) during which authors such as Kate Chopin (The Awakening), Stephen Crane (Red Badge of Courage), Edith Wharton (The House of Mirth), Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer), and others wrote fiction devoted to accurate representation and an exploration of American lives in various contexts. As the United States grew rapidly after the Civil War, the increasing rates of democracy and literacy, the rapid growth in industrialism and urbanization, an expanding population base due to immigration, and a relative rise in middle-class affluence provided a fertile literary environment for readers interested in understanding these rapid shifts in culture.
For some, it is easier to define realism in terms of what it is not—which is primarily romanticism. After the Civil War, American authors and scholars turned against the irrationality and vanity of contemporary Romantic literature. In fact, some authors and critics even blamed the conventions of romanticism—idealism, chivalry, heroism, absolute moral stances—for fostering a national vision which inevitably led to war, causing Americans “to fight when they might have negotiated, to seek empty glory though it cost them their lives.”
Realism was a literary movement directly opposed to the previous movement of Romanticism. The Romantics believed in following one's heart or gut to lead to life's

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