As a reaction to the idealism of the Romantics, realism became a common writing style of the nineteenth century. Idealism is the envisioning of things in an ideal form, and realism is the representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are. Charles Dickens, an English writer, used realism in his works such as A Tale Of Two Cities. Dickens’ realistic writing style depicted and criticized social injustice in specific scenes throughout the novel.
“The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground of the narrow street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was spilled.” This quotation refers to the scene in which a wine cask fell in the streets of Saint Antoine, a poor city outside of Paris, France. After the wine cask fell, the people of the street rushed over to the wine to scoop up as much as possible. The women of Saint Antoine even put wine into the mouths of their children. The people of Saint Antoine were very poor, and would resort to anything for food. A man in the street dipped his finger into the wine and wrote the word, “blood,” on a wall to express the amount of violence that had taken place. This scene is an example of realism because it was an accurate depiction of the social conditions. Unlike idealism or romanticism, the truth about society was presented without exaggeration or idealization. The suffering of the peasants foreshadows the revolts that would later occur during the French Revolution.
Another example of realism in A Tale of Two Cities is used during the storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris. In this scene, a mob storms the Bastille, and the Defarges serve as leaders of the mob. Charles Dickens sets the mood of the scene by using “flashing weapons, blazing torches, smoking waggon-loads of wet straw, hard work at neighbouring barricades in all directions, shrieks, volleys, execrations, bravery without stint, boom, smash and rattle, and the furious sounding of the...
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