Expressionism in Literature and Its Characteristics

3 Mins read

Expressionism is an artistic movement that originated in Germany. The roots of expressionism can be traced back to the late 19th century and early 20th century, when painters were influenced by various avant-garde trends.

Expressionism in literature is a form of writing that emphasizes extreme emotion and the inner workings of the human spirit. This style emerged after World War I, in the 20th century, in response to the traditional methods of realism.

Expressionist writers are often pessimistic about human nature and society, but their work can also evoke powerful images of beauty and transcendence.

The Origins of Expressionism

Expressionism as a literary movement is best known for its emphasis on subjective experience and the display of emotions rather than objective reality. The expressionism came to life in countries such as Germany where it served as a response to the horrors of World War I.

It was a reaction to realism, which was dominant in the nineteenth century. Realism was a style of literature that attempted to represent reality as objectively and straightforwardly as possible. Expressionism, on the other hand, emphasized subjective experience and emotion.

Expressionism first emerged as a movement in the early twentieth century. The artists who first defined this style were from Eastern Europe and Germany, and many of them were educated in Western art schools. They believed that the purpose of art was to express one’s feelings about society and life through non-traditional means such as distorted figures and color, which gave expressionism its name.

Characteristics of Literature Written in Expressionistic Style

Themes of expressionistic literature include anxiety, insanity, and persecution. Themes are often exaggerated or distorted to evoke strong feelings from readers. Expressionist writers might include features such as unusual punctuation, unconventional imagery, or thickly applied paint to create an emotional response.

Read About: What is the Basic Concept of Naturalism

Expressionistic writing is characterized by feelings and emotions that are conveyed through the form of the words. The author often conveys a sense of confusion or even madness through distortion of time, space, and reality. A feeling of terror or suspicion may be evoked using grotesque images. The characters in an expressionistic text may be irrational, destructive, and distant from a conventional viewpoint.

Expressionism is a literary movement that seeks to represent emotional experience rather than physical reality. Writers who use this style exaggerate the work’s emotional content, often distorting reality in order to convey feelings or sensations more powerfully. The style was pioneered by the German Expressionist writer, Franz Kafka.

How to Identify an Expressionistic Piece of Literature

The first step is to identify the number of senses that are being engaged in the literary piece. If there are only one or two senses, the text is not expressionistic. It also needs to be harsh and violent. If it’s not, then it’s probably not an expressionistic work. Expressionism is a style in which the artist conveys his or her feelings and emotions in an exaggerated way. This can be seen in art, literature, and film.

An example of this would be when you see a painting with bright colors and distorted lines. There are many different characteristics to look for when identifying an expressionistic work of literature such as emotional subject matter, distorted images, and the use of exaggeration. It will often involve a setting that is either commonplace or fantastical, and the protagonist will be alienated from society.

Examples of Expressionist Literature

Examples of expressionist literature can be found in works such as: “The Wild Palms” by William Faulkner, “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly, and “The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger. Examples of expressionist literature are, “The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka and “The Bottle Factory Outing,” by David Lodge. The goal is to create a distorted or strong image in the reader’s mind that is powerful and unforgettable.


Expressionism has been a popular literary movement since the early twentieth century. It is characterized by distortion of form and color, as well as an emphasis on violent emotional states. Expressionist writers often use this technique to convey their troubling personal experiences with society and surroundings.

Thoughts? Share in the comment section!

Get GPL WordPress and PHP scripts from GPL Palace and GPL World

For free Udemy courses visit: Free Udemy Courses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.