American Gothic as it Relates to the Industrial Revolution

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Factory, Mass production Pages: 2 (399 words) Published: December 5, 2013

A Response to Davenport’s Review of American Gothic

After reading an except from The Geography of the Imagination, it is clear that Wood, the creator of the world-recognized American Gothic, his included many subtle references to the way our country was changed by the Industrial Revolution in his painting.

Davenport begins his enlightenment by informing us that almost everything in this painting is a symbol, whether or not it was even intended to be one. He starts off with the house pictured in the background of the painting, telling us how it was a “ready-made” house that would be dropped off in pieces and simply put together by possibly only two men. The geometry and simplicity of the house are the characteristics that have guided him to this conclusion. He later mentions both Sears & Roebuck as well as JC Penney, which are both commonly known as companies who took advantage of and popularized mass produced items. Another aspect of this house that Davenport introduces to his audience is the glass windowpanes. Previously a luxury item, the fact that this common farmhouse now has a glass plane is an example of how the Industrial Revolution made certain less attainable items from the previous century, such as glass, as common as the spectacles on the farmer’s face.

Moving on to the characters portrayed, Wood has included many more references to mass production of new ideas such as buttonholes, clothing that came “ready-to-sew” including: fabric, patterns, and thread. The farmer’s overalls are also a depiction of a new fabric, denim, that was popularized for its economy at this time. Even their positions are reminiscent of the Brownie Box Camera and the farmer’s stance with his pitchfork which references that of Egyptian warfare.

The implication of a cotton mill, dye works, and a roller press is a complicated mass of production and assembly lines that Davenport shows us is hidden behind something that appears so common to us: a curtain. A...
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