Realism in Literature- An overview of Realism

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The Realist movement in literature began in France in the 1830s as a response to the previous Romantic movement, driven by the Industrial Revolution and rapid advancements in science. Realism in literature is the objective approach of depicting things exactly as they are, rather than the elaboration or abstraction of the subjective Romantic writers. Realism developed because writers were forced to examine their rapidly changing societies amidst the Industrial Revolution, and were influenced by science in their objective approach. Their works often focused on the social lives of typical people, through novels and other kinds of works.

The Realists lived through many revolutions and political changes, along with technological changes. The industrial revolution brought textile and other kinds of factories, which in turn brought large changes in society. In 1848, many countries in Europe had liberal revolutions. Afterwards, Europe experienced a conservative backlash. Realists became disgusted with the upper class to which they often belonged, because of the actions of the Conservatives, such as limiting people's rights.

Realists often wrote historical or popular novels. The French writer Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" is about an upper middle-class woman and her various affairs behind her husband's back. The book is grounded in real life and doesn't have any elaborations that would be typical of the Romanticists, and the characters are typical and not special in any unrealistic way. Similarly, the English Realist George Eliot wrote many novels, one of which was about four characters in a rural setting, and a love triangle conflict, which makes it similar to Madame Bovary in its realist style. War and Peace, by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, is also typical of the Realist style because it simply depicts Russian life during the Napoleonic era, without any added imagination that one would find in a Romantic...