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During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century a period known as the Gilded Age every man had the potential to become wealthy to advance into the esteemed social class of the well- to-do While this may have been perceived as true by the wealthy it was little more than a concept of idealism In reality while the rich may have worn diamonds most wore rags New immigrants and rural Americans flooded into urban areas searching for opportunity They were welcomed by long working hours low pay and tenements teeming with violence and filth Consequently this forced more than 11 million families of the total 12 million in the nation- to scrape out a meager existence with wages well below the poverty line Fed up with the corruption of society and the extreme oppression of the poor writers such as Mark Twain William Dean Howells and Henry James along with painter George Bellows began to depict the reality of urban life These realists depicted urban American society as if viewed by a spectator neither favoring nor despising it- committed only to delivering a world truly reported Realist writers and artists saw through the pretenses of society They looked behind the glittering faade of the wealthy and through the grime and tatters of the poverty-stricken These realists shared a common theme to depict American life as they saw it an oppression of the poor by a society that had been debased by the corruptness of the government and the wealthy Mark Twain presents this fact to the public in 1873 with the publication of The Gilded Age A Tale of Today written in cooperation with Charles Dudley Warner This book although fictional is a critical examination of democratic politics and corruption in the United States The main characters Colonel Beriah Sellers and Senator Abner Delworthy are linked together by a government railroad bribery scheme Through the events that occur within this
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