Compare and Contrast: The Similarities and Differences Between Realism and Naturalism

Updated on February 4, 2015

Realism and Naturalism

While being two separate literary movements, realism and naturalism have been at times used as interchangeable terms, sharing some deep-running similarities:

1) They are both "basic" views of life and humanity, stripping away the layers of romanticism to present a " natural" or "real" outlook of the work. They refuse to idealize or flatter the subject. They avoid artificial, fantasy, or supernatural elements.

2) Both of these pessimistic views emerged in the 19th century, a period known for its trials and turmoil.

3) God is absent from most of the writing in either category, with writers opting for a focus on the real world.

But despite these similarities, these two literary movements are separate for a reason.

1) Realism sought to be a faithful representation of life, while naturalism was more like a "chronicle of despair." In a way, naturalism proceeded from realism, and can be seen as an exaggerated form of realism; it shows humans as being determined by environment, heredity, and social conditions beyond their control, and thus rather helpless to escape their circumstances.

2) While in realism the main focus was on the middle class and its problems, naturalism often focused on poorly educated or lower-class characters, and on themes involving violence and taboo activities.

3) While in realism, faithful representation of reality including the details of nature is important, in Naturalism, nature itself is a force, generally a powerful, indifferent mechanism.

Realism in American Literature

Naturalism in American Literature


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      sidra kainat 7 weeks ago

      it is relevant and helpful material about literary movements, thanks a lot,,,,,

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      ioan 2 months ago

      so helpful thank you very much

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      Samantha 4 months ago

      i do believe they share similarities, its so hard to differentiate

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      farah 4 months ago


    • Boukhari Ziani profile image

      Boukhari Ziani 5 months ago from Algeria

      thanks a lot

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      calistah ferrer 6 months ago

      thank you ;; its really helpful o us

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      Hi my name is 8 months ago

      thanks for the info G

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      14 months ago

      thx for tis

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      eliezer 16 months ago

      nice info !

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      Dr. No 18 months ago

      yes we can

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      raj 2 years ago

      it is really hlps me

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      eLLa 2 years ago

      Thank you!!! very much!!

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      Jen 3 years ago

      Thank you!!

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      Rivardo 5 years ago

      Thank you very much! It's helpful

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      Asford mensah 6 years ago

      Very Useful

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      samira dj 6 years ago

      i don't think so ; that realism and naturalism are two separet field of the study , both are two sides of the same coin since they share many similarities

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      Mn 6 years ago

      It was useful and many thanks

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      Sunil 6 years ago

      It ws really helpful

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      kirutaye 7 years ago from London, UK

      Useful hub. Thanks for sharing.