Realism in English Literature – Meaning and Characteristics


Realism is a famous literary movement that emerged in the Victorian Era during the 19th century. It was a response to Romanticism with the movement aiming to depict reality in a true way the Romantics couldn’t. 

Characteristics of Realism


Realism stands for an objective representation of reality, not a subjective one. The writers of this movement aimed to represent reality as they saw it without adding embellishments to it or idealising and romanticising it.

Social Commentary

Works that were produced as a result of Realism often tended to comment upon and critique society at large. They addressed key issues in society such as economic disparity, rigid class hierarchies and the negative effects of industrialisation. 

Human Psyche

Realism writers often delved into the minds of humans as well. They explored the thoughts and emotions of an individual along with how their lived experiences affect their lives.

Realism Major Poets List and Their Important Works 

Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy was a prominent Realist Poet. His “War and Peace” is a novel often cited as an example of its realism.

Charles Dickens

Dickens again was an eminent Realist. His magnum opus “Great Expectations” delves into the life of an orphan and the societal divisions in society. 

Thomas Hardy

Yet another notable member would be Hardy. His tragic novel “Tess of the d’Ubervilles” is an apt example of realism, owing to its realistic portrayal of rural England. 


Realism, thus, was an important movement in the literary landscape of England. It is noted for its significance in the portrayal of real life in literature for what it was.