The Awakening

The Prevalence of Realism in Kate Chopin's The Awakening

In the aftermath of the Civil War, many artists and writers were inspired to reject the lofty ideals of romanticism and focus attention on a new movement - one representing aspects of everyday life. American realist authors such as Mark Twain and Charles Chestnutt are well-known for their depictions of life in the South around the time of the Civil War. These authors relied heavily on setting and historical context to mold their characters, unlike romantics, who isolated their protagonists from the social context. In this manner, realist authors sought to portray their lives as objectively as possible. Regionalism, a popular branch of realism, emphasized the realistic depiction of life in a particular region. Like Twain and Chestnutt, writer Kate Chopin believed that regional elements such as speech, social structure, and customs were crucial to an understanding of the condition of the characters. Chopin's "The Awakening" utilizes four literary conventions of regional realism: 1) a protagonist rooted in a complex social environment, often involving oppressive conditions; 2) an emphasis on regional details such as dialect; 3) a psychologically complex protagonist; 4) an objective and amoral stance toward the protagonists'...

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