Guide to Literary Terms

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Realism

Realism - the theory of writing in which the familiar, ordinary aspects of life are depicted in a matter of fact, straightforward manner designed to reflect life as it actually is. Realism often presents a careful description of everyday life, often concerning itself with the lives of the so-called middle or lower classes. According to Henry James, the main tenet of realism is that writers must not select facts in accord with preconceived aesthetics or ethical ideals but, rather, record their observations impartially and objectively. Realism downplays plot in favor of character and to concentrate on...

(The entire section is 194 words.)