What makes Daisy Miller, by Henry James, a Realist novel, and what is the role of Realism in psychological exploration of the characters?

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Three things stand out that mark Daisy Miller as being written in accord with the Realist movement. Realism began as a reaction against the idealism, romanticism, emotionalism and supernaturalism of the Romantic period poetry and novel, such as, for example, Fanny Burney's epistolary novel Evelina. Romanticist traits, though, that were most objected to by Realists were more pronounced in poetry, such as Wordsworth's The Ruined Cottage and Colridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, than in Romanticist novels because novels featured much less the characteristics of subjectivity, emotionality and the supernatural than the poetry did.

Dominant traits of Realism--which were ironically emphatically evident in Realist novels--that distinguish James's Daisy Miller as being in the Realist are:

  • careful, abundant and specific descriptive detail.
  • characters selected from the middle class.
  • characters engaging in "quotidian" (everyday, mundane) activity and demonstrating "domestic affections" (Breen and Nobel).

(The entire section contains 544 words.)

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