Emergence and Functions of Realism in English Literature

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Realism is a literary movement which emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century and was first used as a term in 1880. It focused on rendering every day and commonplace aspects of life and society (such as poverty, alcoholism and prostitution) in an unadorned manner, to create a convincing picture of reality.

In many authors’ works, the portrayal of realism in written literature has emerged as a dominant theme. What exactly is realism? It can be defined as a form of literary work which aims to represent true-to-life actions, events, and dialogues. This article elaborates on how it developed in English Literature.

What is Realism in English Literature?

Realism in English literature can be defined as a style of writing which reproduces the detail and appearance of the real world. A lot of writers use realism because it’s a simple but strong way to connect with their readers on a personal level. Realistic details also allow for characters that are more believable and memorable, which makes for a more enjoyable reading experience.

As it is defined, realism in English literature is the representation of life as it really is – not artificial, sentimentalized, or ornamental. It can be found in many different forms, such as realism in poetry which shows how common people speak or realistic fiction which portrays ordinary lives without idealizing them.

Characteristics of Realism in English Literature

Realism is the representation of things as they are without idealization. Literary realism can be seen in literature from the late nineteenth century to present day. The characteristics of literary realism are ordinary people, everyday situations, and believable dialogue.

Realism was the dominant literary form of the nineteenth century. This style of writing focused on everyday life, often with a focus on lower-class or working-class people. Writers such as Charles Dickens and George Eliot were pioneers of the genre and used realism to provide social commentary about their environment.

Characteristics of realism in English literature include a concern with ordinary people and their everyday social activities, a desire to represent the social world faithfully without idealization, and a rejection of romanticism.

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The novel is the usual genre for realism because it is an inherently empirical medium which can explore social themes through the depiction of individual destinies. Realism is a literary movement that appeared in the second half of the 19th century. It was influenced by positivism and naturalism. The main characteristics are:

1) an affirmative attitude to life.

2) unpretentiousness.

3) the representation of the ordinary, everyday world.

4) detailed description of people’s everyday life without moralizing or sentimentalizing

5) the imitation of objective reality with complete detail

6) fidelity to facts.

Realism plays an important part in English literature because it has had a great influence on writers over the centuries.

Functions of realism in English literature

English realism emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This era was marked by a time of significant political and social upheaval, and it made its way into literature. The author’s intent was to show the truth of society, while also showing how people’s lives were affected.

One key purpose of realism in written English literature is to tell a story as realistically as possible. The form requires an author to focus on the telling of events, people, and society as they exist in the world without idealizing them. Another function of realism is its use as a social critique to show readers how their values and beliefs might be distorted and what that tells us about their society and who operates within it.

Realism was more than just a literary movement at that time, it became a way of life for the people who wanted to be seen as authentic and with merit. To them, realism meant they were writing about real people and portraying them in their natural surroundings rather than fantasies with heroes and villains.

How Can We Recognize Realist Literature?

If you are looking for novels that are realistic, then these are some things you should look for: detailed descriptions of the setting, objective observations, and extensive use of dialogue. Realist literature attempts to represent objectivity in the world through a focus on detailing experiences and emotions.

They typically use “realistic” language, such as colloquialisms, dialects, and idioms. Realist narratives seek to find truth within reality. The environment is important in realist texts because it can be subjective. Realist literature is often used to describe works that were written during the 19th century. This type of literature typically portrays the common, everyday lives and experiences of people in a realistic manner.

One way we can recognize realist literature is through authors such as William Faulkner and Jane Austen. To recognize realism, one must find a seeping of the author’s ideology. If the ideologies are conspicuous and the sentence structure is simple, then it is likely that the literature is realist.


From the foregoing, it is fair to conclude that realism in English literature has emerged and developed through a process of negotiation and contestation, while maintaining a strong subversive component.

In conclusion, there are many different factors to consider when determining the emergence of realism in English literature. In addition to analyzing the literary styles, the social and political climate must be considered to understand the context of what writers were facing at that time. Many writers used a realistic approach in their work because they wanted to create a sense of connection with their readers.

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