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Women's Independence, Transcendentalism, And Materialism Essay

1235 words - 5 pages

Modernism, especially during the 1920s, has always been a part of growing culture and literature. Independence, individualism, and materialism are all themes of how modernism affected culture and literature standards. Woman Settlers on the Frontier, Self Reliance, and The Great Gatsby are all literary examples of the development of a modern society. One of the major themes of modernism seen in culture and literature is the breaking of tradition as a self-dependent individual. Women were changing their standards against the traditional view that they should stay common housewives and should not be allowed to have the same opportunities as men during the 1800s through the 1920s.
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Hallgarth said, “woman not only homesteaded in larger number than might be expected, they were also more likely than men to prove up on their claims…42.4 percent of the women proved up compared to only 36 percent of the men” (25). Woman wanted independence from their inferior image many people gave them. They were either divorcing their husbands or never getting married in hopes of owning their own property and creating a life for themselves. Mary Martha Thomas in her book The New Woman in Alabama: Social Reforms, and Suffrage, 1890-1920, she said that the woman who started clubs started becoming afraid of what would happen because they were conservative southern women who still wanted to be seen as their former selves but also wanted to be club women (45). Women want to start activities to escape their housewife lives, but they also did not want to be viewed any differently. When women started the growth towards modernism in a sense that they pushed independence, modernistic authors pushed individualism, which also allowed modernism to affect society.
Individualism is the habit of being self-reliance. When society began to break away from traditions and religion, transcendentalism began to take form. It is the belief that for someone to understand the nature in reality, that person must first understand themselves. In Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a heavy modernistic view of the individual and their independence stems off of his outlook of transcendentalism. He claimed, “it is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” meaning that the person who knows him or her-self as an individual, will live a better and more meaningful life (Emerson 552-553). Emerson said that the only way someone can have true happiness in life, is if they believe in themselves and go succeed in their own beliefs and start a new way of thinking for the future of society (566). He concluded that no matter what happened, society would always repeat itself, but will always move on, so Emerson stressed the point that the individual should do what they enjoyed and to succeed in it so that person is living in pure happiness. “Man is timid and apologetic…he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose…these roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to betters; they are for what they are” meaning that someone should live for themselves and to never think and refer to the past; only to the present...

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