Modernism

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The span of time from the late nineteenth and the early portion of the twentieth centuries, known as the Modernist period, saw an emergence of profound and radically different works of literature. The authors of these works (focusing specifically on ‘British’ authors featured in the textbook) utilized new forms and characteristics regarding style, plot, point of view, character, etc. They also possessed a vastly different outlook on life shaped by years of war and depression, scientific theories such as evolution, social conflicts involving religion, and political issues, which created a dark and despairing feel to this period of literature. There are several works that exemplify the key characteristics of this period. A key characteristic, and one of the easiest to recognize, are the experimental forms such as free verse and stream of consciousness. T.S. Eliot frequently utilizes these experimental forms in his works, such as “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, which is a dramatic monologue that utilizes stream of consciousness. The seemingly random sequence of thoughts represents the speaker’s self-doubt, as he continuously second guesses himself. The speaker’s thoughts throughout the poem in which he makes excuses for his inability to pursue his goal, which also help the reader get a sense of the speaker’s anxiety and frustration. Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill” is not as despairing as other works, however it does use a free verse scheme whose light beat compliments the speaker’s memories of childhood innocence. Another defining aspect of Modernism is the fall from innocence, meaning mankind has fallen into corruption, evil, and immorality largely as a result from the wars (particularly World War I and the Spanish Revolution) that destroyed much of Europe and witnessed despicable acts of violence committed by men against each other. Dylan Thomas explores this in “Fern Hill” when the speaker reminisces about his childhood. His memories describe images that allude...
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