Modernism

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Food, water, and shelter—for a society to exist, these few basic needs must be met. For a society to advance, all of these necessities must be provided consistently and efficiently enough to remove the burden of survival. However, for a society to thrive, the human spirit must be engaged with something beyond the drudgeries of life. While technology advanced tremendously between 1500 A.D. and 1900 A.D., life was still difficult. Plays and various written works were used to explore some of these challenges, but up until the 1900s’, they tended to do so from a traditional viewpoint. Romanticism focused on raw emotion while Victorianism leant writing a more realistic tone, but the beginning of the 20th century marked a drastic departure in the tone and structure of literature and art as a whole. The advent of Modernism brought about an intellectual rebellion against societal norms and traditional thought. While pessimism, suspicion, and despair have existed for as long as time itself, Modernism forcefully reintroduced these concepts to literature. Man’s failings and follies were brought to the forefront to be discussed, and the conclusions were rarely positive or hopeful. By following the evolution of Victorianism, it is possible to see the slow deterioration of Romanticism and hope in humanity, but the Great War expedited this process by decades. Never before had such a war been fought; its death toll and scale were nearly unmatched at the time, and it affected the men and women involved in it in ways that took years to understand. It is fitting, then, that soldiers are among some of the earliest writers to adopt Modernism. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon both wrote poems about their experiences in World War I, and the shift in ... ... middle of paper ... ...o contemplate their lives in anger and derision. Much like the people of the era during which it rose to prominence, Modernism is often disheartened and bitter, but still resolved to do something of meaning during its short lifetime. It confronts the world with all the pain that has plagued humanity for so long and laments our inability to overcome it. Neither optimistic nor cheerful by nature, Modernism is somber and melancholy; it evolved from a difficult era and does not attempt to hide this fact. The grisly wars fought, the widespread economic depression that dominated the 1930s’, the despair and desperation surrounding the era—while Modernism is often blinded by pessimism, the origin of its negativity is not mysterious. Modernism is a product of its era. Through years of experience and contemplation, it matured and grew into a movement that affected the world.

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