flannery oconner: queen of irony Essay

flannery oconner: queen of irony Essay

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Flannery O’Connor: Queen of Irony

The literary rebellion, known as realism, established itself in American writing as a direct response to the age of American romanticism’s sentimental and sensationalist prose. As the dominance of New England’s literary culture waned “a host of new writers appeared, among them Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and Mark Twain, whose background and training, unlike those of the older generation they displaced, were middle-class and journalistic rather than genteel or academic” (McMichael 6). These authors moved from tales of local color fiction to realistic and truthful depictions of the complete panorama of American experience. They wrote about uniquely American subjects in a humorous and everyday language, replete with their character’s misdeeds and shortcomings. Their success in creating this plain but descriptive language, the language of the common man, signaled the end of American reverence for British and European culture and for the more formal use of language associated with those traditions. In essence, these new authors “had what [the author] Henry James called “a powerful impulse to mirror the unmitigated realities of life,” in contrast to the romanticist’s insistence “on the author’s rights to avoid representations of “squalid misery” and to present instead an idealized and “poetic” portrait of life” (McMichael 6).
In contrast to their romantic and realist predecessors, the literary naturalists “emphasized that the world was amoral, that men and women had no freewill, that their lives were controlled by hereditary and the environment, that religious “truths” were illusory, [and] that the destiny of humanity was misery in life and oblivion in death” (McMichael 7). The naturalist writer Stephen Crane, for instance, explored the absurdity of the human condition. His writing most often portrayed humanity as lonesome singular entities relying on their unproven belief in the benevolence of God and freewill, led by their persistent illusions of being the center of the universe, and clueless to the disparity between their greatest expectations and their equalizing bouts of impendent doom. These realist and naturalist writers, with their revolutionary new method of portraying humanity as capable of evil and as likely victims of an often tempestuous environment or seemingly spiteful heredity, were a powerful influence on...

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...pocrisies of her southern environment. In the last year of her life O’Connor wrote, “You write. . ., what you can. And you become, we can further infer, what you can” (Fitzgerald xix).
It was the civil rights leader Martin Luther King who said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Faced with a sure knowledge of impending death from an incurable disease and a South blinded by its hypocrisies and lies, Flannery O’Connor challenged the mores and conventions of her time to emerge a literary visionary and a true example of the best that American literature has to offer. The author used “the prevailing locution of the South as easily, and as maliciously, as it often occurs there, among blacks and whites alike” (Fitzgerald xix). She spit into the wind of amorality and sin the consequences be damned despite the fact that in her time she was an outsider as a women, a southerner, and a Roman Catholic in the South. Her [natural] gifts produced the fiction, but her situation gave them opportunities, and enabled her to exercise her intelligence, imagination, and craft most effectively (Hyman 46).

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