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Realism represents a period in American literature which spanned from1865 to 1900. This period was characteristic by great turmoil in the American history. The civil war had just ended and the aftermath which was inevitable and very devastating. The period was characterized by urbanization and reconstruction, and technological advices and industrialization which made a significant impact on the American peoples psyche. Notable writers of this period represented realism in the writing in various ways. The writing was meant to present thing as they were in the society. Of these writers I am going to discuss how Mark Twain showed realism in his work "Adventures of Huckleberry", Kate Chopin in "The Awakening" and Henry James in "Daisy Miller"
Like most writers of the Realism period Twain depicted the life of American in a realistic manner. Most notable is the way he employed humorous descriptions in capturing the American colloquial voice and slang and iconoclasm in speech. In the writing, Huckleberry Finn is one of the greatest Twain's representations if realism. Huckleberry is a 13 years old boy who has been abused and neglected. His boy father who stays in St. Petersburg, Missouri is a drunk and mean. Twin's represent the world to us in Huck's view as the young boy tries the understand the world around him. Twain clearly depict the hypocrisy that was the American society which was considered to be a civilized society by exploring the social conventions.
Twain depict the slavery that existed during this time and how some people in the society were opposed to slavery. Some slave would also run away in search for freedom. Twain employs humor through out the book to depict the American society in various instances. For instance Huck astonish Jim with his stories Jim only knows one king, King Solomon whom he considers silly for wanting to chop the baby into two pieces (75). Twain also depicts the feuds that occurred between families through Shepherdson's and the Grangerfords. Huck asks buck to tell him about the feud and buck answers that "feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and he kills him; the other man's brother kills him; then the other brothers on both sides goes for one another; then cousins chip in-and by and by everybody is killed off (105). Later a duel brake up between these two families ad Huck leaves for Mississippi.
Through realms Twain show how the society is gullible, hypocritical, and deceitful. He also uses dialect and slug for instance Jim speaks in slung, a clear depiction of the people and events thus realism.
Kate Chopin in "The Awakening" also expresses realism through the depiction of the American society of the time as it was. Chopin gave realism to a woman voce. Writing during the realism, she couldn't help be but be part of the revolt against Romanticism by being realistic in her depiction of circumstances and characters of her story. Her themes mainly revolved around the role of the woman in the society, their sexual nature, marriage and their increasing independence. The Romanism age had never had of such topics, in fact they seemed strange. Chopin initially wanted independent which was never a characteristic of women during her period. This desire is depicted in her book awakening through the character of Edna Pontellier. Edna is trapped in a marriage that is devoid of love. Though she has children to of them that she loves, she finds her marriage and sometime the children to be a burden. She fall in love with someone else (Chopin 38) and due to the fear of the consequences she decides to leave the Grand Isle to go to Mexico. Refuses to do things that she used to do without any objection neglects her children and sleeps in the same bed as her husband.
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During the writing of the awakening many women in what could be considered Victorian America were experiencing something similar to what Edna was experiences. Some were entrapped in their marriages but did not have the courage to do what Edna did and would be considered outrageous if they tried to do so. They were in the awakening stage and the awakening itself could not be realized till several decades had gone by.
Finally, Henry James being part of the literal community during the Realistic age could not avoid depicting event as they were in his writing. Such depiction or realism is evident in his story, "Daisy Miller." James use a narrator to narrate a story and give a true account of the events as they occur and further give a true setting in which these events take place.
James uses the narrator to relate to the reader what is going on in the minds of the other characters in the story. This reduces the concentration on internal phenomena unique to the character but concentrate on those external events occurring around the characters thus depicting a realistic picture of the characters and letting readers do the moral judgments (James, 322).
The use of "I" narrator create an omniscient story teller who account is limited to what he sees. In this regard the narrator account is a realistic depiction of what he or she sees. Also buy focusing on external occurrence, James is being realistic in that, no one can really read the mind of another person. As such the reader encounters the character and has to understand them through what the do the same what it occurs in life. James refers to this as the air of reality (James, 327).
All these three writers manage to depict events as they occur in their own manner. Twain uses humor, depicting the behavior of people in society such as family feuds, positions such as slaves and slave masters, and behavior such as Huck's father's drunkenness. Further more, hypocrisy and deceit have added greatly to the element of realism. Chopin, in Awakening use the desire of a woman and the efforts to realize these desire while James uses first person narrator to report event as the occur.
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