The Rise of Realism
The Civil War and Post War Period
Post War Idealism
• Writers like Walt Whitman retained an
optimistic view of America and the American
• These writers were pragmatic, moralistic,
democratic, and experimental
• Emerson had immortalized in his “Concord
Hymm” the beginning of the American
Post War Disillusionment
• The same war that strengthened these
democratic views also led to a sense of
• Melville was fascinated with the war but
instead of focusing on heroism and courage,
he focused on humanity’s basic evil.
The Rise of Realism and Decline of
• The romantic novel or romance presents
characters who live their lives idealisticallybeyond every day life. Their heroes engage in
romantic adventures and exciting escapes.
• Realists sought to accurately portray real life,
without filtering it through personal feelings,
romanticism, of idealism
Regionalism and local color
• Realism has its roots in regionalism: literature that
emphasizes a specific geographic setting and makes
use of the speech and manners of the people who live
in that region.
• Regionalist writers were sometimes unrealistic and
sentimental, however, in their depiction of character
and social environment. Woman writers such as Edith
Wharton wrote about the confines of marriage.
• Some well-known regionalists are Mark Twain, Bret
Harte, Kate Chopin, and Harriet Beecher Stowe
Psychological Realism
• Or stream of consciousness focuses on character
• Thorton Wilder was a master and illustrating the
resilience of the human spirit, or the philosophy of the
human mind. Often, his themes are moralistic and
Christian in nature.
• Many psychological realists demonstrate the
prevalence of human pain, frustration, and failure, yet
characters could rediscover the simple joys of
existence. Social class differences are also highlighted
such as in “The Gift of the Magi” by William Sidney

The Rise of Realism The Civil War and Post War Period