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The Period of Modernism in World War I and World War Ii

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Words: 875 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 875|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

World War I and World War II brought mass destruction and destroyed traditional values. This complete demolition sparked the period of Modernism, it influenced people to open up their minds to new ideas of art, literature, and social aspects. This is displayed hrough the works of Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, and T.S. Elliot.

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The Modernist period spans over the years from 1914-1945. “While these writer’s express contradictory attitudes to politics, tradition, obscenity, progress and the psyche, they share the desire to experiment with form” (Potter). The theme and the content of modernist writing is very important. They brought up topics that were previously not discussed, but they also focused a lot on their form of writing and characteristics of their style. This modern style of writing has many different characteristics. Some of them include realistic details, that can be symbolic or suggestive. Often, there is multiple perspectives or viewpoints. The narrator can change, or the point of view of the story can be multiple different ways throughout. Characterization usually portrays heroic individuals, similar to romanticism, in the fact that it usually leads to isolation, or anti-heroism. The Modernist period was a break from traditions, or a reaction against the Victorian culture. There were multiple advances during this period, in science and social sciences: “New ideas in psychology, philosophy, and political theory kindled a search for new modes of expression” (Kuiper). These characteristics are displayed throughout many different stories and authors.

Willa Cather’s, “The Sculptors Funeral”, is a great representative for the modernist movement. Willa Cather was born in Virginia, and went to the University of Nebraska she became a high school teacher in 1901, and her first story was published in 1905. The main theme in the story of “The Sculptors Funeral” is the problems with communication among people. The sculptor’s ideas of art and culture made him isolated from his townspeople, because they didn’t think the same way as he did. His friends attending the funeral comment on how they don’t see him connecting with people in the town: “He looked painfully about over the clover-green Brussels, the fat plush upholstery; among the hand-painted china plaques and panels and vases, for some mark of identification, for something that might once conceivably have belonged to Harvey Merrick” (Cather). Trying to find something to connect with Harvey, but it was hard to because none of the materialistic stuff was something he would relate to. There is also a theme of greed, because that’s what all the people in the town think they need. The main reason they shun him because he is pursuing something he loves, instead of pursuing money. This is definitely a good representation of Modernism, as people began to develop more artistic ideas, it became a topic of discussion with people still stuck in the traditional time.

Additionally, “Hands” by Sherwood Anderson is another great piece of literature that represents the modernist period. Sherwood Anderson wrote short stories for a living. He believed in writing short stories because he didn’t have the time to write novels. Also, he didn’t believe that novels should have a moral, positive, plot. He called this the poison plot, he believed the plot actually poisons the story. This story fits in the modernist period by forcing the readers to question and search for the truth. The story not only includes fragmentation and isolation in both form and content, but it also has multiple points of view. The main character, Wing, is isolated from people and cannot establish a connection with anyone because he was accused of inappropriate behavior with students. There is also irony in the story, when Wing tells George: “’You (George) are destroying yourself. You have the inclination to be alone and to dream and you are afraid of dreams’” (Anderson), even though Wing is who is destroying himself. The story makes the reader question everything, which is a main theme of modernism. Instead of the author just giving the readers every detail, modernist authors, like Anderson, make the reader search.

Last but not least, T.S. Eliot could be considered one of the most influencing poets during the Modernist movement. Eliot’s poems very commonly made the readers have to think about what was happening, again, a main style of modernism. This techniques of omitting explanations is one of T.S. Eliot’s most common techniques. “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot was a work to symbolize the generation scarred by war. The whole poem was full of hidden messages and meanings that the reader had to decipher. The reader even has to figure out who the hollow men are, Eliot never actually comes out and says it. One of the most popular quotes from this story is; "This is the way the world will end/Not with a bang, but a whimper" (Eliot). This idea is the definition of modernism, again making the reader question what he means, creating an idea for others to try to make sense of.

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In conclusion, the period of modernism was sparked by the harsh destruction of the World Wars. It gave people the opportunity to question their traditional culture, and grow in terms of art, science, and social thought. Through the help of modernist authors like Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, and T.S. Elliot, the modernist movement came alive.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Period of Modernism in World War I and World War II. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-world-war/
“The Period of Modernism in World War I and World War II.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-world-war/
The Period of Modernism in World War I and World War II. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-world-war/> [Accessed 14 Jun. 2024].
The Period of Modernism in World War I and World War II [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2024 Jun 14]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/modernism-in-world-war/
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