Realism And Romanticism In A Lost Lady By Willa Cather

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Detailing the deceit within the small fictional town of Sweet Water, Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady warns of the ignorance of the subjectivity of man’s perspective. Written when the nation was embroiled in turmoil from the aftermath of the world war, A Lost Lady mirrors the literary conflict of the time between romanticism and realism. Redefining the argument between viewing the world in terms of ideals and flaws into one over the view of women, A Lost Lady critiques the belief in the idealistic true woman through the shattering of a young man’s worldview as he grows up. Depicting the male narrator Neil’s discovery of the flaws of his perfect woman, Mrs. Forrester, A Lost Lady utilizes the crumbling of a romanticized outlook of life to strengthen its realist motif that ideals are inherently flawed.
Opening Neil’s tale with a visit to the Forrester house, Cather weaves a persona of an ideal woman with unnoticeable flaws in Mrs. Forrester to reveal that ideals blind people from reality. When young Neil was sitting contently with his friends in the marsh on the Forrester’s land, his moods became uplifted when Mrs. Forrester brought cookies for them to eat. Knowing Mrs. Forrester “was a special kind of woman” who was beautiful even if “her complexion was never one of her beauties,” the young children were besmirched, not by her beauty, but by her homely presence (Cather 11-12). Specifically, for Neil, Mrs. Forrester’s motherly presence when tending to his hunger leads Neil to

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