19th Century American Literature


19th Century American Literature

19th Century American Literature

19th Century American Literature


The 19th century was a period of profound change in the United States, marked by westward expansion, the Civil War, and industrialization. American literature of this era reflects the complexities of these societal shifts, exploring themes of identity, manifest destiny, and the evolving American dream.

19th Century American Literature – Key Features

Transcendentalism and Romanticism:

The early 19th century saw the rise of Transcendentalism and Romanticism, emphasizing the inherent goodness of people, the connection to nature, and the importance of individualism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays, such as “Self-Reliance” and “Nature,” embodied Transcendentalist ideals.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” explored the consequences of societal judgment, blending Romantic and moralistic elements.

American Renaissance:

Mid-19th century literature witnessed the American Renaissance, marked by a burst of literary creativity and the emergence of iconic authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman.

Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” delved into the complexities of human nature and obsession.

Walt Whitman’s poetry, especially “Leaves of Grass,” celebrated the vastness of the American landscape and the diversity of its people.

Realism and Regionalism:

As the century progressed, Realism and Regionalism gained prominence, capturing the everyday lives of ordinary people and reflecting the nation’s changing social landscape.

Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” provided a realistic portrayal of life along the Mississippi River, tackling issues of race and morality.

Sarah Orne Jewett’s “The Country of the Pointed Firs” exemplified Regionalism by exploring the lives of people in a coastal Maine village.

Abolitionist Literature:

The 19th century was also marked by the fervent abolitionist movement, and literature played a crucial role in advocating for the end of slavery.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” became a powerful anti-slavery novel, influencing public opinion and contributing to the tensions leading to the Civil War.

Frederick Douglass’ autobiographical works, such as “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” provided a firsthand account of the horrors of slavery.

Gothic and Dark Romanticism:

Gothic and Dark Romantic themes emerged, reflecting the anxieties and uncertainties of the time.

Edgar Allan Poe‘s tales, like “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” epitomized Gothic and Dark Romantic elements, exploring psychological turmoil and the macabre.

Post-Civil War Literature:

The aftermath of the Civil War prompted literature that grappled with the nation’s wounds, reconstruction, and the pursuit of a new American identity.

Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” captured the psychological toll of war.

Emily Dickinson’s poetry, though not widely known during her lifetime, later gained recognition for its unique exploration of life, death, and existence.


The 19th-century American literature reflects a nation in flux, grappling with issues of identity, morality, and societal transformation. From the optimism of Transcendentalism to the stark realities of Realism, this period laid the foundation for the diverse literary tradition that would follow in the 20th century. 0 0 0. 19th Century American Literature.

You May Like

  1. Father of American Literature
  2. African American Literature Books
  3. Realism in American Literature
  4. Early American Literature
  5. American Literature – An Overview
  6. How Are American Literature and American Identity Interrelated
  7. What Impact Did Poe Have on American Literature
  8. American Literature Syllabi
Previous articleAmerican Literature Syllabi
Next articleৰাষ্ট্ৰপতিৰ ক্ষমতা আৰু কাৰ্যাৱলী । Rastrapotir Khamata