Unit Plans


Realism is literary theme which ran from about 1860 to 1917. Realism was a reaction to both the scientific revolution, as well as, the previous literary theme of romanticism. Where romanticism sought a mystical ideal and transcendence from the real world, realism sought only what was real and denied any mystical and supernatural existence. Through realism we are shown the death of romanticism, or at the very least the ineffectuality of romantic notions. The scientific works of Charles Darwin and many aspects of his theory about how man was no longer divine, merely just an animal whose only purpose was to eat, defend what was his, and to procreate, were thinly veiled within the literature of the time. To better emphasize Darwin’s hand in literature, realist authors characterized his heroes as having large, masculine hands which were an allusion to lobsters’ evolution of huge claws to hold the female in place while mating. Sigmund Freud, whose work, which deals with the unconscious mind and phallic imagery, we see in many different pieces of literature as well. Freudian literature shows how the driving forces are sexual encounters and the inevitably of death, and therefore the fear of death, as well as subliminal influences on the unconscious create the psychological tale We see all of these elements within the three works we will be analyzing and discussing throughout this paper.


Students will identify the elements of realism in the works: the hand of Darwin in, "The Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck, Freud’s subliminal sexual imagery in Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, "Winter Dreams," and all of these, as well as, the other three elements of realism in Elia Kazan’s film version of Tennessee William’s play, "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Objective:  Students will, through instructional input from instructor, and literary dictionary, write Cornell notes, defining the theme of realism such that they can later identify the elements thereof within the poetry, prose, art, and fiction of the period.


Before reading, students will, through journal entries, reflect on aspects of realism within their lives


During reading and viewing, students keep a GRO log of the elements of realism as they appear in the works (proper parenthetical referencing techniques required)


After readings, students will discuss and compare their GROs in pair-share activities, and finally, demonstrate these discoveries in essay below


Assessment will come in a multi-paragraph literary analysis of three literary works with the period



Reading 1 . 2-9

Writing 2 . 1-8

Viewing 4 . 1-9




Day one -

Introduction - lecture & Cornell notes defining realism and identifying elements thereof - read section on "Realism" in text


Demonstration -

Realist influences - lecture on Lyell, Charles Darwin & Sigmund Freud and their influence on realist text

Realist prose In class reading of the, Steinbeck's 3rd chapter in Grapes of Wrath, and within a pair-share activity, Darwinian allusions identified (GRO) within chapter


Day two -

Before reading Students will, in Journal Entry (1st 5 minutes) Review of elements

During reading Analyzing for Freudian Psycho-sexual symbols in Fitzgerald's "Winter Dreams" collecting quotes for paper.

2nd read, line by line as a class unit. discussion


Day three –

Before reading students will, during first five minutes, write three sentences reflecting on one element of modernism within their lives


Reading for elements – in class reading stage direction and character intro of "Streetcar Named Desire," by Tennessee Williams


During reading, GRO identifying theme characterization


Day four & five

Before reading - JE another element of the realistic life – scientific reflection – 1st 5 min.3rd read, GRO analyzing prose and identifying elements of the modern within.


During reading/viewing – Students will read aloud anthologized sections of Williams’ play, keeping notes (GRO) of theme symbol and characterization after which they will view film clips from the Elia Kazan film version of the play.


After reading – In a pair share activity, students will discuss and compare their Gro and notes, supplementing and editing same.




Students will compile all notes and GROs pursuant to writing a five page literary analysis on Realism as demonstrated through the art, poetry, and literature of the era.


The paper will be taken from rough draft (type 3) through peer editing to a polished final assessed with an eye to all 6 traits in a type 5 paper.