Difference between realism and naturalism -must read

While Realism and Naturalism are two separate literary movements, they are closely linked and are sometimes used interchangeably. This is because both movements portray life as it is.  realism and naturalism-must read

These literary movements represent credible, natural or real everyday activities and experiences. However, there are significant differences between realism and naturalism.

The main difference between realism and naturalism is that realism sought to represent real life while naturalism sought to represent life in a more scientific way.

What is realism? realism and naturalism-must read

Realism is a literary movement that began in the mid-19th century in France and spread throughout Europe. This movement can be defined as a reaction against Romanticism. Realist literature depicts ordinary people in everyday situations. They represent events that could happen to anyone in real life. Realism portrays life as it is, without idealizing, flattering, or romanticizing.

Before Realism, literature tended to focus on nobles, royalty, and divinity who were of little relevance to the middle classes. But the Realism movement broke this convention by portraying characters who belong to the working classes. There were no great heroes; the protagonists were ordinary characters with whom the public could identify.

Realist literature also paid great attention to detail; this was necessary to create a realistic feel and effect. The language used in the literature of this period was also ordinary, unlike the Romantic period. The vernacular and common dialects were used to make the texts more credible and realistic. Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Ibsen’s Dollhouse, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Dickens’s Great Expectations, and Thomas Hardy’s Dark Judas are examples of realistic literature.

What is naturalism? realism and naturalism-must read

Naturalism stemming from realism is often referred to as a logical consequence of literary realism. It can be considered as an exaggerated form of realism since he used detailed realism to propose that social conditions, heredity and the environment were the three main forces in the formation of human character.

Naturalism was strongly influenced by the theories of Charles Darwin and naturalistic authors tried to apply scientific theories to literature. Therefore, they often took a distant and clinical tone. Naturalism often portrayed lower-class characters and themes related to violence and taboo activities. Naturalistic novels are typically pessimistic by nature.

The work of the French novelist Emile Zola is often regarded as the origin of the naturalistic movement. His “Les Rougon-Macquart” is considered one of the best works of the naturalist movement. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane, To Build A Fire by Jack London, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck are some examples of naturalistic novels.

Differences between realism and naturalism


  • Realism is a literary movement characterized by the representation of real life.
  • Naturalism is a consequence of literary realism, influenced by scientific theories.

The representation of the people

  • Realism portrayed the everyday life of ordinary people.
  • Naturalism portrayed how the environment, heredity and social conditions control the human being.


  • Realism represented characters from the middle class.
  • Naturalism represented characters of the lower class.


  • The realistic novels used themes such as society, social class, mobility, etc.
  • Naturalistic novels were written on themes of violence, poverty, corruption, prostitution, etc.

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