ⓘ Domestic realism

                                     

ⓘ Domestic realism

Domestic realism normally refers to the genre of 19th-century novels popular with women readers. This body of writing is also known as "sentimental fiction" or "womans fiction". The genre is mainly reflected in the novel though short-stories and non-fiction works such as Harriet Beecher Stowes "Our Country Neighbors" and The New Housekeepers Manual written by Stowe and her sister-in-law Catharine Beecher are works of domestic realism. The styles particular characteristics are:

"1. Plot focuses on a heroine who embodies one of two types of exemplar: the angel and the practical woman Reynolds who sometimes exist in the same work. Baym says that this heroine is contrasted with the passive woman and the "belle," who is deprived of a proper education.

2. The heroine struggles for self-mastery, learning the pain of conquering her own passions.

3. The heroine learns to balance societys demands for self-denial with her own desire for autonomy, a struggle often addressed in terms of religion.

4. She suffers at the hands of abusers of power before establishing a network of surrogate kin.

5. The plots "repeatedly identify immersion in feeling as one of the great temptations and dangers for a developing woman. They show that feeling must be controlled. Baym 25. Frances Cogan notes that the heroines thus undergo a full education within which to realize feminine obligations The All-American Girl.

6. The tales generally end with marriage, usually one of two possible kinds:

A. Reforming the bad or "wild" male, as in Augusta Evanss St. Elmo 1867

B. Marrying the solid male who already meets her qualifications. Examples: Maria Cummins, The Lamplighter 1854 and Susan Warner, The Wide, Wide World 1850

7. The novels may use a "language of tears" that evokes sympathy from the readers.

8. Richard Brodhead Cultures of Letters sees class as an important issue, as the ideal family or heroine is poised between a lower-class family exemplifying poverty and domestic disorganization and upper-class characters exemplifying an idle, frivolous existence 94."

An example of this style of novel is Jane Smileys A Thousand Acres in which the main characters confinement is emphasized in such a way.

Some early exponents of the genre of domestic realism were Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.