Rebecca Harding Davis uses prose to protest. Do you think her intent to educate the reader weakens or strengthens the artistry of her fiction? Harding Davis uses realism to expose the...

Rebecca Harding Davis uses prose to protest. Do you think her intent to educate the reader weakens or strengthens the artistry of her fiction?

 Harding Davis uses realism to expose the exploitation and oppression of the poor suffered at the hands of the social elitists.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I certainly think that a case can be made that Harding Davis' prose was intended to galvanize people into action and not accept passivity as a part of what it means to be American.  In her autobiography, Bits of Gossip, Harding Davis speaks to the idea that all individuals are a product of their time period, suggesting that there is something larger than the individual at stake in consciousness:

[The individual write] not the story of his own life, but of the time in which he lived, —; as he saw it, —; its creed, its purpose, its queer habits, and the work which it did or left undone in the world. Taken singly, these accounts might be weak and trivial, but together, they would make history live and breathe.

Within this, it becomes evident that Harding Davis would see her use of prose as a way to educate the reader.  This does not weaken the aristry of her fiction because her fiction is driven by the idea that the reader must be given a realistic view of their world.  For Harding Davis, the reader has to be educated.  This is where her artistry succeeds in her own mind.  It must be linked to the "time in which we live."  If it remains separate from it, Harding Davis would argue that the work becomes "weak and trivial."  Yet, when the work is seen as being able to contribute to how individuals understand reality, it becomes more powerful, coming alive in both individual and time period.

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