Realism and Romanticism Analytical Essay by capital writers

Realism and Romanticism
A discussion of the theme of realism and romanticism in the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Alice Dunbar-Nelson and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.
# 28430 | 1,128 words | 0 sources | 2002 | US
Published on Jun 27, 2003 in Literature (American) , English (Analysis)

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This paper examines how elements of realism and romanticism can be found in any work of literature, although usually one or the other will predominate and how the subject matter or theme of a piece of writing can be realistic, while the delivery in tone, style and diction may be romantic. It shows how such is the case with the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Alice Dunbar-Nelson and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman by reviewing their works ?A New England Nun,? ?Sister Josepha,? ?Sympathy,? and ?We Wear the Mask?. It looks at how each of these authors approaches the mundane world of social class and conformity, emphasizing the role of structure and order in daily life. Strength of character and personal integrity are valued over flights of fancy, even though the protagonist in each example exhibits a desire for transcendence. It discusses how Dunbar, Dunbar-Nelson and Freeman all employ a flowery, romantic writing style that belies their chosen subject matter and how each of these American writers skillfully combines elements of both romanticism and realism to form an authentic tapestry of the human condition.

From the Paper:

"Paul Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" is a succinct summation of the tension between romanticism and realism. Choosing poetry as his vehicle for expression, Dunbar could be dismissed offhand as a romance writer. A deeper examination of "We Wear the Mask" shows his predilection for the bleak social realities that lie within the realm of realism. "We wear the mask that grins and lies," the poem begins. We must all lie in order to conform to social graces and be part of society. Whereas a romantic would assert his or her individuality and flaunt unconventional behavior, Dunbar concedes the necessity to "let the world dream otherwise." His choice of words is ironic, as the "dream" is a decidedly romantic subject. Likewise, his "tortured souls" is a melodramatic phrase that proves the poet's ability to combine a realistic theme with a romantic sentiment. Dunbar bemoans the mask that hides our true emotions, but he knows it is the ?debt we pay to human guile.?"

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