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Literature - Essay Example

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In an ordinary narration of the west, Bret Harte still manages to bring out some important human values in the society from an unlikely perspective in the play “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.” The play features two men and women who have been banned from Poker Flat because the…
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Download file to see previous pages Apparently, Bret Hart could have been influenced to write the play by the tragedies narrated by the survivors of the great Donner Party expedition and the rumors that surrounded the tragedies. Fiction can actually be used to carry ideas, values and themes within real life situations to foster understanding especially in instances marred with controversy, prejudice and partiality. According to Schmidt, authors have always used fiction in instances where they intend to promote and impartial view of aspects in the society that draw controversy (105). The paper looks at how the Donner Party expedition might have influenced Bret Hart’s “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.”
Contextual Analysis. The Donner Party expedition was an expedition by a group of American founders in 1850. The party had set out to California but apparently failed to follow the conventional route and opted for a dangerous route believing that it was shorter. However, the party which consisted of 180 members became trapped in harsh weather and quickly run out of supplies. According to Eliza Houghton who was the daughter of one of the Donner brothers and who survived the ordeal, the rumors about cannibalism were untrue (Houghton). The time period of the expedition is around the same time of the setting of Bret Hart’s play in 1850 in California (Harte 3). Most literatures refer to this period as the gilded age when there was a gold rush in the region around California.
During the period most artists preferred to concentrate their literature within regions an aspect that came to be known as regionalism. Hart particularly uses a kind of English that was common in the area around California during the gilded age. An example is when the character of Mother Shipton says that “that foot be painin’ her real bad, Uncle Billy” (Harte 6). The most common means of transport during this period were the horse drawn carriages and both the play and the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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