Free Essay: Effects of Civil War on American Literature

Published: 2023-01-09
Free Essay: Effects of Civil War on American Literature
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  American Civil War Slavery Emily Dickinson American literature
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 723 words
7 min read

The American literature has progressively evolved from the initial oral traditions of the indigenous tribes to its advanced stage. This development has seen the present-day literary work incorporate creative words, better ideas, and techniques. However, several events have a significant effect on the development of American literature. Some of these factors are a great depression, World War II, the abolition of slavery, the civil war and the women gaining the right to vote. This research paper, however, narrows its scope to the role of the Civil War (1861-1865). It is a historical event that functions as a dividing line between the American Renaissance literature and the present-day works. The civil war changed the authors' thematic expressions, imaginations, attitudes towards conflicts, and the use of literary forms. Also, it marked the start of the Afro American literature, the rise of literary comedians and naturalist writers.

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The realism is a new era of literature that emerged immediately after the American Civil War. The radical changes in the America societies necessitated the authors to change their imaginations to meet transformations in the country. The event had a dramatic impact on peoples' life especially after the abolition of slavery. Congress also reconstructed the Southern States and thus allowing the Blacks and the Whites to live together in a non-slave society. Such changes had a profound impact on literature since it changed what the authors believed about cohesion and life and how they wrote. Most literary works before the war were fictional, but this event led to the development of realism literature. Examples of fictional and influential pre-civil war works are I am Nobody by Emily Dickinson and Common Sense by Thomas Paine. The realist writers used their works to portray unbiased and objective facts and perspective that war disturbs life and the social well-being in the society.

The effects of the war changed the sentimental and romantic modes of writing in the literature. The pre-war writers avoided the seamy side of life and only sought to exalt the audience. This event led to the emergence of a generation of writers that experimented new literary forms (Fuller 9). They revolutionized the literature by exploring the theoretical assumptions about war and morality (Kumar & Kumar 521). Rebecca Harding Davis provides an overview of personal experiences during the civil war era. Davis was a journalist in Western Pennsylvania when the war broke out. The author narrates that borders, property possession, and money were useless as the army seized every belonging. The farm was also a waste, children were missing, and friends could pass you scowling. This aspect supports the change of literature to be factual and present to readers how war makes life horrific (Davis 59).

The rise of Afro-American literature is a critical development from the Civil War. Once the former slaves were freed, they explored their creative talents through writing. Some of the renowned Afro-American writers that have significant contributions to American literature are Booker T. Washington. Besides this development, literary comedians improved American literature through their comic works (Kumar & Kumar 523). Charles Farrar and Henry Wheeler Shaw are examples of the key figures that transformed the literature by introducing the individualized literary comedy about the civil war. Their humor shifted to verbal devices from the initial character portrayal surrounding the effects of the Civil War.

Naturalism, a critical genre of the American literature developed as more naturalist writers emerged during and post-civil war era. The naturalism literature explored topics like the plight of the women, farmer's struggles, and racial segregation during the war. Also, the event marked a thematic turning point in literature. Many of the literary works have incorporated the themes surrounding the civil war. Some of these subjects are slavery, racial prejudice, reconstruction, the powerlessness of the women and loneliness. These themes are apparent in Davis's memoir about the war.

Works Cited

Davis, Rebecca H. Rebecca Harding Davis's Stories of the Civil War Era: Selected Writings From the Borderlands. U of Georgia P, 2010. DOI: 10.1353/scu.2013.0030.

Fuller, Randall. From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature. Oxford University Press, 2011, Accessed 30 April 2019.

Kumar, Nitin, and Ravindra Kumar. "The influence of civil war on American literature." International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development 7.7 (2017): 521-523. Online ISSN: 2349-4182, Print ISSN: 2349-5979, Impact Factor: RJIF 5.72. 30 4 2019, Accessed 30 April 2019.

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