A Movement in Literature Modernism

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Modernism is a movement in literature, music, and the arts during the late 19th to early 20th century. The rapid growth of industries and cities helped to spur on modernist ideas. One prevalent theme in modern writing is the rejection of the past. During this period, people were rebelling against historic and academic traditions that were deemed outdated or the new industrial society, resulting in change and experimentation.Religion was losing its significance in daily life as the modernist era continued. The lack of religion instilled a lack of morals in people, as shown by the many activities done that were once deemed as inappropriate. In E. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, religion is absent from all the characters’ lives especially from the upper class, implying there was a lack of moral standards among them. People often only acknowledged religion when they wanted to use it as an excuse. For instance, Tom did not marry Myrtle because She’s [Daisy’s] a Catholic, and they don’t believe in divorce even though Daisy was not a Catholic…the elaborateness of the lie. People started to place less value on religion and more value on other ideologies and objects, such as capitalism, money, and power. Staring at the green eyes of Eckleburg, Wilson remarks God sees everything. However, Michaelis assures him That’s an advertisement.

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The presence of the T.J. Eckleburg serves a new god in The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald). The importance of religion was losing its importance in daily life as people turned to new idols and ideals.The rejection of moral and religious beliefs was emphasized with the rejection of all traditional beliefs whether in the arts, sciences or politics. These new ideas coming from Modernism have endangered the traditional views from the past. Modernists viewed it was more important to question the convictions of the past and push past them. The traditionalists have been concerned, in the main, with the effects of evolutionism on attitudes to religion, to the past, to tradition…We are left, in Shakespeare’s words, to commit the oldest sins the newest kinds of ways’ (Religio Perennis). Modernists were constantly reinventing themselves. By rejecting tradition, they discovered radical ways of performing the same task. For instance, artists rejected old styles of the past in favor for experimenting with new art forms, materials and techniques in order to reflect modern society. Modern art caused the audience to question their current ways of thinking and represented an artist’s freedom, expression and radicalism. During the modern era, many people believed that the old traditional values needed to be revised and changed. It would be more accurate to view modernism as a tendency to question…The past was now to be seen and treated as different from the modern era (Symbiosis College of Arts & Commerce). With a variety of scientific and technological discoveries being made, the world was constantly changing that people had to continually challenge beliefs and systems to not fall behind the trends. Each new system or style was soon challenged and replaced with a newer version of it.The rejection of the past led to new innovations coming from Modernism that shaped how people experienced daily life. People experienced a faster pace of life due to the new technologies. On or about December 1910 human nature changed…There is a hunger to break past the bourgeois proprieties and self-containment of culture (Howe). Innovations in transportation and communication helped make human life more convenient and quicker.

In the past, a person’s life was restricted to the resources he or she had available to him or her; however, with these new advancements, a person was able to expand their scope of daily activities to accomplish more in one day. In the 1890s, a strand of thinking began to assert that it was necessary to push aside previous norms entirely, instead of merely revising past knowledge in light of current techniques. The growing movement in art paralleled such developments as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in physics; the increasing integration of the internal combustion engine and industrialization; and the increased role of the social sciences in public policy (Modernism). Many new ideas stemmed from the Modern era that still affect life today. For instance, Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity had greatly altered the perception of reality, and Sigmund Freud offered a new perspective on psychoanalysis which are both still studied today and led to new ideas.Modernism was a movement that can be defined by the rejection of past ideals. During the modern era, traditional ideas and systems, such as religious beliefs were discarded for new innovations and principles. Similar to how shoes can be discarded for new ones, these old ideas were seen as worn-out and overused. People questioned these ideas, leading to the new innovations from Modernism. Modernism can be seen in all types of works, from art to literature to science. The rejection of the past led to a variety of new innovations and advancements that still affect life today.

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