Realism In American Literature Essay

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Shannon Clouse and Emily Harter Mrs. Kelly English 11 Honors Period 6 9 May 2014 Realism in American Literature: Founding the Dream of Equality President Abraham Lincoln once stated, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” (Brainy Quotes). What does it mean to be truly free? This question has taken on many different forms throughout American history. One could define freedom as a way to act and live the way one chooses, unoppressed. Americans have always had a dream to live freely, however it wasn’t until the 1860’s that the American Dream of freedom took on a new identity: The dream of equality. The late 1800’s was a period of conflict in America. Slavery was an extremely controversial and disputed issue. Tensions rose between those who were for and against slavery. The impacts of these tensions could be seen in different aspects of American society, particularly in the literature of the time. A new literature style, realism, came about that emphasized the real, individual views seen during the Civil War period of American history. During the Realism period in American literature, the American Dream of equality was expressed through the power of the individual and seen in the ideals of Lincoln in connection to the Civil War and the Master Poets of this time. The issue of slavery divided pre Civil War America, heightening the tensions between those in support of black freedom and those strongly against it. America had a long standing history with slavery. Controversy over the debate of slavery had been a large, complicated issue. Roots of the controversy of slavery can be traced all... ... middle of paper ... ...eated a greater push for succession by the South and heightened the push to advance the American Dream of equality in the North. Lincoln became the figure standing for the American Dream of equality. His monumental speeches at Gettysburg and The Emancipation Proclamation were examples of the progressing Dream of Equality that would be a precedent for others to follow. A new style of literature that reflected the period called realism came about that emphasized real events and motives of the individual that encompassed virtues of the dream of equality. Master poets like Dickinson and Whitman were pioneers in using new, unconventional writing styles to encompass qualities of realism and document the power of the individual. The American Dream of equality is seen in the Civil War period of American History expressed through the Realism period of American literature.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the american dream of freedom took on a new identity in the 1860's.
  • Explains that the issue of slavery divided pre civil war america, heightening tensions between those in support of black freedom and those strongly against it.
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