Did you know Modernism was a movement that people followed that had cultural trends and changes which was affected by others? Modernism was in play during the 1900-1945. People followed the movement because it is steadily moving forward. As long as everything is going fine, working, and coming back home, people acted fine and just looked forward. Modernism was mainly a response to old ideas of thinkers such as Darwin, Freud, and Nietzsche. These important ideas changed the foundation of society, it changed religion, ethics, equality, and sexuality. It later got to be the identity of the individual. The discontentment and uncertainty that characterized modernism in literature caused the result in political, economic, and social aspects in the early 1920s in America.
Political events affected how Modernism formed. Some Major events that affected Modernism are World War II, the Great Depression, and the rise of Fascism. World War 1 caused destruction that no one could imagine of. Ernest Hemingway, a popular voice in American Literature, made a story which was called “Another Country,” which showed soldiers wounded and being removed from the war. These people were distanced from the war and disillusion from “heroism” of being a soldier. Many of writers and poets who survived the wars went on and expressed the perspectives of the lost generation. Poets would direct statements from social protests as well. Prohibition caused a lot of anger in this time and only 20% of people agreed with the law. Prohibition caused a lot of deaths from people like Al Capone, who killed the competition of stealing and selling alcohol. A Famous quote from Capone was “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”This caused the government not to get tax money and led to 1,500 cops and federal agents not getting payed. It was corrupted because stealing alcohol was more of a national sport and cops didn’t care. Another big event that happened was the stock market crash, this was a big effect which basically caused the Great Depression. At this time everyone was trying to sell there stocks and banks couldn’t do anything because they had no money left to give out. Which later in time stocks finally got back to what they were used to be at.
Modernism also effected the Culture and social aspect in 1900s. World War I shaped modernism by developing industrial societies and the rapid growth of population and cities. Modernism is based on the vision of human life and society. It is a process of moving forward and believing in the progress. There was a lot of new ideas that were in psychology, philosophy, and political theory. They were in search of a new expression at the time period. Modernism changed a lot of views in literature. The world war was an effect that changed the foundations of western society and culture. The war reflected disillusionment and fragmentation to the people. A major author in this era was James Joyce, who had a popular book called Ulysses, which was a big event in the Modernist era in literature. James Jones likes to say “I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today and what I established yesterday or some previous day.” This tell us that people work everyday and do the same repeatedly with no change. Culture during modernism shows the structure and the literary communities influence the writers and what they write about. T.S. Elliot was a big author on the two world wars. Elliot talked about the emotion, which affected a lot of people during hard times, especially in the world wars. Elliot believes, “only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Modernist Themes were usually about alienation, transformation, consumption, and relativity of truth. Technological advancements and the chaos and destruction of World War I caused most people to think that humanity wasn’t progressing. Most people thought it was turning into a meaningless world. Modernism is marked by a intentional strong break that made up tradition. This showed a big reaction against strong established political, social, and religious views. People believed there was no absolute truth, all things relate to other things. Everyone is concerned with sub-conscious thoughts and life is unordered.
In the modernism era, working conditions were miserable. Workers would form unions and went on strike. Workers got tired of working and getting sick which could cause death form the long hour days and the unsanitary conditions. Businesses continued to need workers. A lot of people were in line to work and they didn’t care about the wage, they were willing to work as long as needed to get a paycheck. There were also factories being built which opened up more jobs. These jobs were very dangerous because of the fumes produced from the machines. At the start of the 1900s there would be at least a 10-hour workday for everyone in the factories. It changed to a 40-hour week in 1914. During this time people would make around $6 a week. Factories kept on being built and they needed more workers. Children started working in factories under the age of 15. In 1900, there were 1.7 million children working in factories. This caused the children to get sick and develop disease from the dangerous conditions and long hours. Immigrants had no respect in America right away. When immigrants first came in the United States, they were moved to poverty neighborhoods and into tenements which were like apartments. Immigrants mainly only found work in factories which was much needed at the time. An author that wrote about the working class was D. H. Lawrence. People looked up to him to hear people that were in difficult times and Lawrence used key themes for his work. A big event that occurred was the Great Migration which affected 6 million African Americans to move to the urban west. The main cause of this to happen was factories and businesses needed workers. They worked as domestic servants and agricultural laborers for very low money.
Modernism was a crazy time period. All of the terrible working conditions, the Horrors of the World Wars, and major other events like the stock market crash and prohibition. The discontentment and uncertainty that characterized modernism in literature caused the result in political, economic, and social aspects in the early 1920’s in America. I believe that Modernism is important to know is because as humans we need to know what others went through in their lives and all of the difficult major events that have happened.