By Michael Spindler
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Extra info for American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller
Through the Coreys, Howells implies that the old Boston merchant class has lost economic leadership to the industrial manufacturer and now fears the loss of social leadership as well.
Socially, this biological determinism was engendered by the brutalising effects of heavy industry which treated men as so many 'h an ds' to be kept functioning by means of a subsistence wage. And just as "dirty physical work and the filth of slum conditions seemed to justify the reduction of most men to the status of animals, so the increasing need for reliable timekeeping and factory discipline brought to the fore as obstacles to be overcome the anarchic, instinctual energies of men. Intellectually, it was derived from the late-nineteenth-century sciences such as physiology and from Darwinism, which, relentlessly materialistic, turned men into full members of the animal kingdom , the products like other members of a long, evolutionary , natural process and the unfree subjects of inescapable natural laws .
Further, they provided sufficient drama and conflict to make studies of their rise to wealth or of the clash between the old-established echelons and the parvenus possible and interesting. Such studies required the representation of manners, of the actual social processes by which people gained wealth, of the strengths and weaknesses of the entrepreneurial character - required , in short, a close attention to , and detailed specification of , contemporary society. These demands were incompatible with romance, and those writers who wished to articulate and define the major developments and issues of the late nineteenth century found themselves forced to adopt from foreign sources and develop in relation to their native American material the assumptions, emphases and techniques of literary realism .
American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller by Michael Spindler