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Realism is the post civil war literary movement between 1865-1900.
Realism directly opposes the previous movement Romanticism.
It focuses on the harsh realities of life and gives the reader
a true sense of “local color”. Which is the fictional recreation of the authors own experiences.
Realism renders reality closely and in comprehensive detail.
Selective presentation of reality with an emphasis on verisimilitude, Character is
more important than action and plot; and complex ethical choices are often the subject.


Incorporates a difficult time in American history, with the Civil War, industrialization,
Reconstruction, urbanization, and more. In American literature,
famous writers like Charles W. Chesnutt, Stephen Crane, Henry James, Mark Twain,
and Edith Wharton were presenting a more realistic view of life in their works of literature.
In American literature, the term "realism" encompasses the period of time from the Civil War
to the turn of the century during which William Dean Howells, Rebecca Harding Davis, Henry James,
 Mark Twain, and others wrote fiction devoted to accurate representation and an exploration of
American lives in various contexts. As the United States grew rapidly after the Civil War,
the increasing rates of democracy and literacy, the rapid growth in industrialism and urbanization,
an expanding population base due to immigration, and a relative rise in middle-class affluence provided
a fertile literary environment for readers interested in understanding these rapid shifts in culture.
In drawing attention to this connection.
Broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality" or "verisimilitude," realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing. Realism is a technique that denotes a particular kind of subject matter, especially the representation of middle-class life. There is a revolt against against romanticism, an interest in scientific method, the systematizing of the study of documentary history, and the influence of rational philosophy,  all affected the rise of realism.

mark twin realism

Realism brought about events and characters with-in stories that could be easily imagined and related too. The main contributor during the period of realism was Mark Twain with his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain incorporated his own real life experiences into the novels he wrote. Twain expresses many beliefs within society of the time period. Twain accurately and vividly describes settings, places, and emotions. Twain's depiction of the morals and events of the main character in the novel are the most important part of how the story incorporates realism.

Realism in American Literature was most prominent between the Civil War and the turn of the century. Realism incorporates many aspects of life so the reader is easily able to relate to the characters and events. Social class is very important within this period of writing. The characters are more important than any other aspect of the story, without a well developed and accurate character the story will fall apart. Realism writing does not include any type of poetic vocabulary. The vocabulary used in realism writing is "normal speech", terms that people use every day that may not be proper English but a accepted among impersonal conversations. During the time period that this style of writing thrived America was growing and changing as a nation, this provided the perfect habitat for realism writing to flourish (Realism in American Literature).
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is about a neglected young teenage boy. His name is Huck Finn. His father is a mean drunk. The book begins in St. Peters Missouri where his father and he both live. The book tells about the Huck and Tom's adventures in great detail. The novel is told using first person point of view. This viewpoint allows the reader to easily connect with the story because it is told as if the reader was right their interpreting the events himself (Twain).

Twain gives the two main characters of the book, Tom and Huck, realistic character traits. Both boys live befriend each other and the longer they are friends the more their friendship grows and develops. The boys portray a nice and sincere attitude, but they use a devious and teenage attitude much more. They both tend to get into trouble like any teenager would (Twain).

Twain's dialogue throughout the story is "common talk". This means the story does not include any poetic writings or anything of that nature. The dialogue is true spoken as if it was just a conversation between to normal people. No overly fancy words are used, just normal well known and common vocabulary. Using common vocabulary within story dialect is a crucial part in allowing the reader to relate to the characters. *

Mark Twain even tells the reader beforehand within the preface of the book about his dialects:
In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremist form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary "Pike County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech (Twain Explanatory).

Mark Twain's characters are well developed and described. The main character Huck is a thoughtful boy who is very intelligent as far as street smarts go, unfortunately he lacks much of a formal education (Lombardi). Huck is constantly forming his own conclusions about matters going on in the world during his life. An example of his conclusions about important matters in the world is the treatment of black people, Huck feels they are normal humans and should not be treated any differently then himself. This conclusion like many other of Huck's conclusions goes against the grain of society. Tom, Huck's best friend, is basically Huck's other half; whatever Huck lacks in character Tom makes up for. Tom has a wild imagination and is a great thinker. Tom is highly influenced by society, unlike Huck. These influences and the effect they have on Tom encourage Huck is his choice to ignore and disregard the common society thinking and come up with his own conclusions on controversial matters (Byrne).

Mark Twain's settings were vividly described. He was able to achieve such accuracy within his description because of past experiences with in his life; most notably his experience as a steamboat pilot. He used a memory of a sunset he had once seen while out on the boat. He describes this sunset in the novel. The vivid description can be seen within just the first several lines of the 1 page description:

The first thing to see, looking away over the water, was a kind of dull line - that was the woods on t'other side; you couldn't make nothing else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness spreading around; then the river softened up away off, and warn't black any more, but gray; you could see little dark spots drifting along ever so far away-trading-scows... (Twain 163)

Mark Twain clearly influenced the development of realism with his novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The book was able to be related to be so many that it became very controversial. When the book first came out in the year 1884 it was not long after in 1885 that the book was banned from the Concord Public Library (Lombardi). Even through the banning of the book in some areas it still reached many people and had a huge impact. Twain paved the road for Realism writing and no other novel will have as much influence on the time period as his did.

The period of American literature known as Realism

The period of American literature known as Realism is generally considered to span from the end of the Civil War until the beginning of World War I. American Realism responded to the sweeping political, social and economic changes that took place in American culture after the Civil War, including the end of slavery, the industrial revolution, the advent of mass production, wide-scale immigration, increased urbanization and increased poverty. American Realists sought to depict the everyday lives of ordinary Americans, and the relationship between the individual and society is often explored. American Realism tended to be regional, and writers sought to capture "local color" amidst fear that traditional folkways were disappearing in the face of rapid technological changes and modernization.

Romantic Period in American Literature, 1830-1865

The period between the "second revolution" of the Jacksonian Era and the close of the Civil War in America saw the testings of a nation and its development by ordeal. It was an age of great westward expansion, of the increasing gravity of the slavery question, of an intensification of the spirit of embattled sectionalism in the South, and of a powerful impulse to reform in the North. Its culminating act was the trial by arms of the opposing views in a civil war, whose conclusion certified the fact of a united nation dedicated to the concepts of industry and capitalism and philosophically committed to egalitarianism. In a sense it may be said that the three decades following the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson in 1829 put to the test his views of democracy and saw emerge from the test a secure union committed to essentially Jacksonian principles (Harmon, 6th. Edition).

realism In American literature

In American literature, the term "realism" encompasses the period of time from the Civil War to the turn of the century during which William Dean Howells, Rebecca Harding Davis, Henry James, Mark Twain, and others wrote fiction devoted to accurate representation and an exploration of American lives in various contexts. As the United States grew rapidly after the Civil War, the increasing rates of democracy and literacy, the rapid growth in industrialism and urbanization, an expanding population base due to immigration, and a relative rise in middle-class affluence provided a fertile literary environment for readers interested in understanding these rapid shifts in culture. In drawing attention to this connection, Amy Kaplan has called realism a "strategy for imagining and managing the threats of social change" (Social Construction of American Realism ix).
Realism was a movement that encompassed the entire country, or at least the Midwest and South, although many of the writers and critics associated with realism (notably W. D. Howells) were based in New England. Among the Midwestern writers considered realists would be Joseph Kirkland, E. W. Howe, and Hamlin Garland; the Southern writer John W. DeForest's Miss Ravenal's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty is often considered a realist novel, too.

origin romanticism

Romanticism was a literary movement that swept through virtually every country of Europe, the United States, and Latin America that lasted from about 1750 to 1870. However, the Romantic Movement did not reach France until the1820's. Romanticism's essential spirit was one of revolt against an established order of things-against precise rules, laws, dogmas, and formulas that characterized Classicism in general and late18th-century Neoclassicism in particular. It praised imagination over reason, emotions over logic, and intuition over science-making way for a vast body of literature of great sensibility and passion. In their choice of heroes, also, the romantic writers replaced the static universal types of classical 18th-century literature with more complex, idiosyncratic characters. They became preoccupied with the genius, the hero, and the exceptional figure in general, and a focus on his passions and inner struggles and there was an emphasis on the examination of human personality and its moods and mental potentialities.

Romantic Period in American Literature, 1830-1865.

Often considered the first period of American creativity, the Romantic period is placed within the historical context of westward expansion, the increasingly heated nature of the slavery question, and strained relations between the opposing desires for reform and separation found in the North and the South.  Historically, this period of tensions resulted in the Civil War.  Within the literature, however, the opposing views of life were able to co-exist relatively peacefully .
Romanticism is typically defined as a "literary and philosophical theory that tends to see the individual at the center of all life, and it places the individual, therefore, at the center of art, making literature valuable as an expression of unique feelings and particular attitudes and valuing its fidelity in portraying experiences, however fragmentary and incomplete, more than its adherence to completeness, unity, or the demands of the genre.  Although romanticism tends at times to regard nature as alien, it more often sees in nature a revelation of Truth . . . and a more suitable subject for art than those aspects of the world sullied by artifice.  Romanticism seeks to find the Absolute, the Ideal, by transcending the actual" (A Handbook to Literature).  Simply stated, Romanticism is a movement wherein artists reacted to the constraints of Realism (think along the lines of Benjamin Franklin's painstakingly realistic autobiography) and moved toward the individual as a creative being.   Oftentimes, the language of this period is less formalized than previous periods, nature is a reflection of man, and simplicity is prized over the conventions of the past.  A movement within this movement is Transcendentalism which emphasized the importance of nature and the "dignity of manual labor," and the most influential Transcendentalist was Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Literature expanded to include novels, essays, and lectures.  Romanticism was a literary revolution.