The Realism Movement Essay

2086 words - 8 pages

Realism, as defined by James H. Rubin, is a movement in art and literature, [which] claimed to represent the common people and their everyday circumstances based on accurate observation (Rubin 91). According to Rubin, Realism “emerged in France during the mid nineteenth century”(Rubin 91) and came to the United States as a response to Reconstruction (Owen 9). Defining characteristics of the Realistic movement may include the complexities that an average man or woman might face. The subject matter is a representation of middle-class life. To begin with, John Steinbeck’s upbringing at an agricultural time led to the portrayal of his short stories and novels. “In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck contributed to Realism by being a versatile writer. He has been described as a social-protest writer, a realist, a naturalist, a journalist, and a playwright. He has many strong themes running through his works. The most notable are the strengths of the family, the effects of the environment on man, and social protests” (Reuben 2). Secondly, William Dean Howells was born on March 1, 1837 in Martinsville, Ohio; Howells is regarded as "the father of American Realism" (Alexander 68). Specifically, Howells contributed to Realism by discussing his major themes, such as cosmopolitan life in New York City, war, and the American businessman (Cady 17). The over-all message being portrayed is that Realism enables its readers to reflect on common occurrences and attempt to improve the actuality of their lives. The literation of Realism zeroes in on normalcy, embracing mediocrity, and the possibility to overcome adversity. The authors, John Steinbeck and William Dean Howells successfully wrote of the Realistic movement because they were able to depict the everyday life between an individual and society.
Initially, John Steinbeck’s short story, “The Chrysanthemums” illustrates the internal conflict of being misunderstood and often lonely, a sorrowful housewife faces. The character of Elisa, seemingly leads a boring life and Steinbeck tries to remind the reader to not give into temptation and cherish loved ones. During the dialogue, Elisa’s husband, Henry, offers an idea to go out to dinner and delivers a unenthusiastic response of thinking that this activity will allow her plants to proceed in their growth and she will be able to pick up right where she left off when she returns (Steinbeck 435) proves that Elisa cares more about her garden than spending time with her husband. Rather than make an effort to bond with her spouse, she appears to be reluctant when asked to go out and enjoy a simple night on the town. Additionally, the failure of a connection between the couple gives the Tinker an opening to make an impact on Elisa’s mental state. Once the Tinker gives her the least bit of attention, Elisa’s entire demeanor starts to change. In the beginning, Elisa was introduced to us as being unwomanly: her body type goes unnoticed...

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