Brokeback Mountain Historical Context

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Stories of the American West

Stories about the American West gained attention in the mid-nineteenth century and remained a popular genre during the first part of the twentieth century. The early Westerns followed a formulaic, stereotypical pattern: the main characters were mythic heroes that represented the American spirit of self-reliance and courage. The world of the Western was dominated by men; women were relegated to lesser roles, either as titillating saloon prostitutes or virginal schoolmarms and motherly farm women. Settings were picturesque and plots melodramatic, with scenes of violence often interspersed with humor.

The most popular fiction focused on cowboys who emerged in dime novels at the end of the nineteenth century and stories in magazines such as Atlantic, Harpers, and Scribner's. Some of the most popular writers in this genre were Alfred Henry Lewis, Henry Wallace Phillips, William R. Lighton, Rex Beach, and O. Henry, who set...

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This section contains 612 words
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Buy the Brokeback Mountain Study Guide
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