Melanctha Historical Context

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Stein saw herself as spanning the two centuries in which she lived; she felt ties to the values, often conflicting, that characterized both periods. That split also appears in "Melanctha" in the initial conflict between the "quiet" and "regular" life Jeff extols and Melanctha's passion for unjudged, aimless experience. To summarize the centuries in basic formulas—as many of Stein's peers did—one could place Victorian morality against twentieth-century rebellion. Where the nineteenth century valued social propriety and tradition, the twentieth declared as its motto, "make it new." Where the nineteenth century depended on such certainties as religious faith and a rational social order, the twentieth began by embracing many discoveries and ideas that the Victorians had found threatening. Charles Darwin's thesis about evolution, put forth in Origin of the Species, for example, challenged Victorians' assumptions about Godly design and the significance of human life. Political...

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This section contains 703 words
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Short Stories for Students
Melanctha from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.