Themes of Modernism
The term Modernism refers to the shift in values and cultural awareness that appeared in the art and literature of the post- World War One period. Modernism showed that there had been a change since the previous Victorian period. The Victorian era and its literature showed a very optimistic outlook on life, but the new era of Modernism rejected this idea and chose to portray life to be extremely pessimistic. Many of the Modern writers showed the world and society to be in an extreme disarray and despair. Some of the most influential Modernist writers even tried some radical experiments with form, such as free verse and some of them even presented some new ideas to the public, such as stream of consciousness. There are many things that these writers did to change the world of literature forever, but a couple of the most important things that define the term Modernism are the usage of grotesque details and the idea of a code of honor. One theme that is reflective in later Modernism is the theme of the grotesque. The word grotesque, in literature, can be applied to the types of writing, the characters, and to subject matter. As discussed in class, the grotesque can make the reader laugh, even if it is uncomfortably, but it is usually used to show something that is absurd. The authors are usually are trying to show the reader that society, values, or humanity are sick and twisted, but they usually do so by giving something in their stories a physical grotesqueness. In the story "Good Country People", the author Flannery O'Conner uses the grotesque theme to portray religion and physical disabilities. O'Conner was a very religious woman, but often in her stories she chooses to show the world of religion as one where the actions are totally unexpected yet believable. The character Manley is a bible salesman and he is supposedly "good country people", but after he is alone in the barn with Helga his true colors shine through. When Manley pulls...
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