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Realism (1850-1920). Realists reacted against the romantics idea that art was the expression of and portrayed the character of unique individuals. Instead, they suggested that art (or literature) should show people as the great majority truly are.

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Realism (1850-1920)

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Realism (1850-1920)


Realists reacted against the romantics idea that art was the expression of and portrayed the character of unique individuals. Instead, they suggested that art (or literature) should show people as the great majority truly are.


Realists believed that while truths MAY exist on an ideal or metaphysical level, permanent truths are manifest in the physical details of the here and now. Art is a mirror reflecting an actual picture of reality. This should develop our sympathetic understanding of our fellow man (or woman).


Influences on Realism

  • Charles Darwin

    • People are controlled by heredity and environment

    • Humanity is a natural object, not above all else

      Karl Marx

      - Class struggle defines us – we are shaped by our economics


Principles of Realism

  • Insistence upon and defense of “the experienced commonplace


Character is More important than Plot


Science (actual truth) is paramount (fact rather than exaggeration)


Art is to capture the vision of life of all classes (not all individuals)


Humans control their destinies; characters act on their environment rather than react to it.


Realistic Techniques

  • Settings thoroughly familiar to author

  • Plots emphasize the norm of daily life

  • Ordinary characters, studied in depth

  • Complete authorial objectivity

  • A world TRULY reported – it is moral responsibility


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