Essay Realism And Naturalism Literature Timeline

Realism and Naturalism in American Literature Essay

1069 WordsMay 3rd, 20135 Pages

Katelynn Craig
English 3883
Dr. Charles DeShong
15 March 2013
Realism in Huckleberry Finn Between the end of the civil war in 1865 to about 1910, two styles of literature dominated American literature: realism and naturalism. Realism presents the world as it really is. One of the well known writers of realism, William Dean Howell’s, wrote “realism in nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material.” Realism in literature tends to be the plain and direct account of whatever is being written about. Writers of realism fill their work with facts to complement the readers’ feelings of the fact that these things can happen in their everyday lives. Realists are sure to write about normal, everyday people, living…show more content…

In the explanatory text before the story, Twain explains the dialect of the characters, “the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the form of the backwood South-Western dialect; the ordinary “Pike-County” dialect; and four modified varieties of this last.” The dialect is accurate to each role the character plays, making the text as real and relatable as possible. The use of diction that fits each character, time period, and location is another way in which The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn becomes a novel to fit the idea of realism.
The use of satire throughout the novel allows Twain to expose and identify the true character of each individual. While characters like the two conmen and religious figures walk around and present themselves as highly educated and righteous, they really are lacking in their lives. The two conmen are exactly that, conmen. Their education is lacking and Huck catches on and identifies that, “"It didn't take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn't no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds." Those that claim to be religious only act this way in public. They all attend church, like the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons, but never use the lessons taught in church and apply them to their home lives. Twain shows Tom’s lack of logic when Tom is creating a plan to save Jim. There are parts of the plan that are so unrealistic and out of this world that they have to

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REALISM (1865-1915)

Historical context


  • Realism: a reaction against romanticism
  • Focus on lives of ordinary people; rejected heroic and adventurous
  • Anti-materialism rejected the new "class" system
  • View of nature as a powerful and indifferent force beyond man's control
  • Naturalism (sub-genre of Realism)
    Like Realism but a darker view of the world
    The universe is unpredictable; fate is determined by chance; free will is an illusion
    Characters' lives are shaped by forces they can't understand or control
    Novels, short stories
    Often aims to change a specific social problem
    Dominant themes: survival, fate, violence, nature as an indifferent force

Major Writers

The Civil War (1855-1865)

The Frontier (1865-1915)

The Local Colorists (1865-1930)
Regional writers tried to capture the essence of a particular area, or its "local color," by accurately depicting the distinctive qualities of its people and including vivid, realistic descriptions of the physical appearance of the environment. As America grew and became more diversified, the public became curious about the people and the style of life in different parts of the country. Regional literature satisfied their curiosity.

New Poetic Forms

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