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Realism and Mark Twain


Realism and Mark Twain The Civil War and Post-War Period – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Realism and Mark Twain

Realism and Mark Twain
  • The Civil War and Post-War Period

  • A reaction 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

  • According to William Harmon and Hugh Holman,
    "Where romanticists transcend the immediate to
    find the ideal, and naturalists plumb the actual
    or superficial to find the scientific laws that
    control its actions, realists center their
    attention to a remarkable degree on the
    immediate, the here and now, the specific action,
    and the verifiable consequence" (A Handbook to
    Literature 428).

  • 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).

Plot and Character
  • Character is more important than action and plot
    complex ethical choices are often the subject.
  • Characters appear in the real complexity of
    temperament and motive they are in explicable
    relation to nature, to each other, to their
    social class, to their own past.
  • Humans control their destinies characters act on
    their environment rather than simply reacting to

  • Renders reality closely and in comprehensive
    detail.  Selective presentation of reality with
    an emphasis on verisimilitude, even at the
    expense of a well-made plot.
  • Events will usually be plausible.  Realistic
    novels avoid the sensational, dramatic elements
    of naturalistic novels and romances.
  • Class is important the novel has traditionally
    served the interests and aspirations of an
    insurgent middle class.

Interpretation and analysis
  • Realism is viewed as a realization of democracy.
  • The morality of Realism is intrinsic, integral,
    relativistic relations between people and
    society are explored.
  • Realists were pragmatic, relativistic, democratic
    and experimental.  The purpose of writing is to
    instruct and to entertain.

Structure of Prose
Diction is the natural vernacular, not
heightened or poetic tone may be comic,
satiric, or matter-of-fact. The use of
symbolism is controlled and limited the
realists depend more on the use of images.
Objectivity in presentation becomes
increasingly important overt authorial comments
or intrusions diminish as the century progresses.

Mark Twain
  • Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida,
    Missouri in 1835
  • At the age of four, he moved to Hannibal on the
    Mississippi River
  • He eventually became a riverboat pilot he
    derived the name Mark Twain from the riverboat
    leadsmans signal By the mark, Twain- meaning
    the water was deep enough for safe passage

  • Huck Finn was published in 1884
  • It received great public and critical acclaim.

Facts about the novel
  • time and place written  18761883 Hartford,
    Connecticut, and Elmira, New York
  • date of first publication  1884
  • narrator  Huckleberry Finn
  • point of view   Hucks point of view, although
    Twain occasionally indulges in digressions in
    which he shows off his own ironic wit
  • tone   Frequently ironic or mocking,
    particularly concerning adventure -novels and
    romances also contemplative, as Huck seeks to
    decipher the world around him sometimes boyish
    and exuberant
  • tense  Immediate past
  • setting (time)  Before the Civil War roughly
    18351845 Twain said the novel was set forty to
    fifty years before the time of its publication
  • setting (place)   The Mississippi River town of
    St. Petersburg, Missouri various locations along
    the river through Arkansas

The Adventure of Huck Finn- Themes
  • Themes
  • Racism and slavery
  • Intellectual and moral education
  • The hypocrisy of civilized society
  • Societys values and laws can be in conflict with
    higher moral values.
  • People must live outside of society to be truly
  • Freedom means different things to different

The novel also depicts Hucks maturation and
development. He distrusts the morals and
precepts of a society that fails to protect
him. He begins to question many of his
teachings- especially those regarding race and
slavery Ill go to hell
  • Even though written after slavery was abolished,
    things had not gotten much better for blacks in
    the South.
  • We may read this story as an allegorical
    representation of the conditions of blacks in the
    US even after the abolition of slavery.
  • Twain exposes the hypocrisy of slavery.

  • Childhood
  • Lies and Cons
  • Superstitions and Folk Beliefs
  • Parodies of Popular Romance Novels

  • The Mississippi River- The ultimate symbol of
  • Land
  • Shipwrecks
  • Floods

  • On a raft, away from society, he becomes free
    from societys rules and makes his own
  • The river symbolizes freedom the shore
    symbolizes civilization and the people who live
    in it.

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