Realism in American History

Essay by cwhritHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2010

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Chris Hardy

History 8th period

Mrs. Stewart

Realism in American History

The late 1800s was a watershed moment in American History. The era of the Wild West was ending. The land in the western had been almost fully settled by the late 1800s and was in the process of becoming the "bread basket" that it is today. While one ear was ending the era of big business was in full swing. Monopolies and trusts were the standard of the late 1800s expanding their control and influence far beyond the shores of America. The common factor in these two however is destruction of the environment. This destruction inspired realists like mark twain and Winslow Homer to accent nature with beauty and granger that only a realist could. These men attempted to stem the tide of environmental destruction by expressing how powerful it was. In no other instances is realism more prevalent then in the environmental movement in the late 1800s, Mark twain's "Memorable Midnight Experience", and Winslow Homer's Sunlight on the Coast.

Just as there are today men and women fought for the preservation of the environment. Intellectuals were weary of the optimism of economic liberalism and its pronouncement of social and economic advancement through laissez-faire capitalism. They condemned the materialist society and obsession with technology, and were alarmed with the destructive capacity science. Particularly pertinent to the environment was the industrial threat to ecological systems or the environmental consequences of imperialism. An environmental utopianism arose with the formation of such groups as the Sierra Club, formed in 1892 in the U.S. Some of the ideas of this movement meshed with that already prevalent realist movement.

In Mark Twain's "Memorable Midnight Experience" two unnamed men are on an ill-advised expiation through London. They arrive at West Minster Abby where they...