Symbolism and Realism Essay

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Symbolism and Realism Symbolism and Realism were distinct but parallel literary movements that swept Europe and much of the world in the late 19th century. Social order was one of the main concerns of Symbolists and Realists, which reflects the unprecedented growth of the middle class and its values across Europe during that time period. Morality and ambition were homogenized – and, in some cases, institutionalized – to a degree never before seen in civilized society, and many intellectuals and artists saw this homogenization as a conformist social force that threatened individual perspective. Thus, Symbolists’ and Realists’ works lashed out against social institutions and values and were particularly concerned about the domestic…show more content…
The first quote implies that, by engaging life’s tedium, modern people fade like corpses: what makes one human wastes away. The second quote implies that, because everyday objects such as a deck of cards take part in the material world of human life – in this case, a conversation and the “rankly perfumed” (1550.I 11) smell – they are just as alive as we are. These objects differ from humans, however, as the talking face cards suggest: people eventually die, but material objects live on. Therefore, as time passes, all the connections of humans – or “dead loves” (1550.I 14) – are bound to be lost. While both quotes draw on the domestic sphere or an object therein to express decay or death in the human experience, their meanings differ: the first quote expresses that life’s tedium causes our decay, while the second implies that material expressions outlive people and thus the connections between “temporary” human beings are insignificant. Therefore, the poem overall implies that human uniqueness – free will, emotion, connection to others, and so on – becomes “foggy” (1550.I 4) and dissolves, while the tedium to which we devote our lives survives us all. Consequentially, within modern life forms supercede human life itself, from the individual to one’s connections with others. If one focuses on materialism, further argues Tolstoy, then one cannot grasp
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