Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Hope, Hopelessness and Despair”: An Analysis of Realism, Naturalism and Romanticism in Their Eyes Were Watching God 10th Grade

The 1930s: a pivotal point in the birth of literary modernism. After Sigmund Freud’s publication of studies of human emotion through psychoanalysis in the early 1900s, writing was forever changed. Authors added masks of character development which strayed from classic archetypes and relied on individuality. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a product of its time, as is showcased in its unique literary structure. Throughout this work of the modernist moment, Hurston cleverly blends realism, naturalism, and romanticism to create a new genre of writing accurately representative of sociological pressures, natural destruction, and passion for individual freedom.

Hurston’s novel incorporates elements of realism and naturalism through ironic discrimination from the Turners, grounded dialect choices, and Darwinian views of nature’s relation to humanity. To fully embody literary realism, the depictions of racial discrimination and dialect expectations reflect the prominent sociological pressures at the time of Hurston’s writing. Contrary to natural expectation, Mrs. Turner is dark-skinned yet incredibly racist towards African Americans. She is “ a milky sort of a woman” (163) and believes that her lighter skin gives...

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