Realism Notes Discontent of Women Literature of the Civil War and Beyond 1850-1914 • As the United States grew rapidly after the Civil War, the increasing rates of democracy and literacy from: – the rapid growth in industrialism and urbanization – an expanding population due to immigration – a rise in middle-class affluence • Non-fiction pieces depicting ills and hardships of war were predominant • Anti-slavery literature was born and became widespread (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) • Literature reflects discontent with widespread poverty/destruction due to war • Social ills due to industrialization were often showcased • Reflects a loss of innocence and national idealism due to hardships Realism • Writers turned away from Romanticism and focused on portraying “real life” as ordinary people lived it • Characters and people are portrayed with an amoral attitude—honest, objective, factual perspective (no judgment) • Events will usually be plausible. Realistic novels avoid the sensational, dramatic elements • Character is more important than action and plot; complex ethical choices are often the subject • Diction is natural vernacular, not heightened or poetic; tone may be comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact • Class is important; the novel has traditionally served the interests and aspirations of the middle class Naturalism (Similar to Realism, but with additional characteristics) • A bias exists in this form—usually pessimistic, depressing • Hardship influenced these writers • Belief that forces larger than the individual shape his/her destiny: nature, fate, heredity (Jack London’s To Build a Fire) The Angel of the House • The “angel” was the ideal woman of the time • She had no desires of her own, no ambitions or careers except taking care of her family and home • These women were very happy and content • They were pregnant frequently due to the restrictions on birth control • They cared for their homes, husbands, and children, played music, sang, or drew to enhance the charm of their homes and to reflect well on their husbands. • Wives were possessions, cared for and displayed, who often brought a dowry or inherited wealth to a marriage Equality and Independence • Kate Chopin stories were written during a time of great change—rebellion against the “Angel.” • In the early- to mid-nineteenth century, a woman's place was in the private domain of the home, in the roles of wife and mother. • Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton held the first women's right convention in July of 1848 (two years before Chopin was born) in Seneca Falls New York. • The suffrage movement and the abolitionist movement grew rapidly during the Civil War. • Suffragists pushed on until 1870 when the 15th Amendment allowed the right to vote regardless of color or creed but not gender (that would not come until 1920). • The concept of "The New Woman" began to circulate in the 1890s-1910s as women pushed for broader roles outside their home based on intelligence and non-domestic skills and talents.