Romantic Traits in the 19th Century Realistic Novel

Topics: Charles Dickens, Romanticism, Wuthering Heights Pages: 6 (2061 words) Published: December 30, 2010
Romantic Traits in the 19th century Realistic Novel
Great changes were brought into the world during the 19th century. Britain was transformed by the industrial revolution. In 1801, only about 20% of the population lived in towns, by 1851 the figure had risen to over 50% and by 1881 already about two thirds of the population lived in towns. By the late 19th century factories were common and most goods were made by machine; it was the time of inventions and discoveries. In addition to the industrial revolution, flourished ‘intellectual revolution’ introducing changes in thinking, brought about by changes in society. The educational system was improved and grew better; the organization of the working class gave the possibility to be elected in Parliament. Democracy started to take place, and due to the political and cultural background also the view of life started to change. The age of realism initially started in France, as realisme, in English literature entering first in 1830s with the period of Early Victorian fiction and continuing till the end of the 19th century. The literature of that time gives reader an insight into the very situation of that time. Gradually increased the popularity of books and literature’s greatness was both quantitative, andaqualitative.

Realism is widely defined as “the faithful representation of reality”, attempting to focus on truthful representation of everyday life, in the first place, among the ordinary people - middle or lower class society, without romantic idealization or dramatization. Realism is based on showing life as it is - unvarnished, in contradistinction to romanticism that prospered before the age of realism, treating life in a romantic manner and displaying emotions, feelings and personal experience. On the whole, realism avoids romantic and fantastic elements, exaggerations, thereby providing the reader with descriptions of life’s verisimilitude, psychological approach and characters. The main characters of the realism literature are not supernatural heroes, but ordinary people of the lower or middle class, who struggle through their lives, full of everyday problems and difficulties. Events are made to seem the inevitable result of characters’ choices. Generally speaking, realism can be regarded as a challenging romanticism, for it images life in an absolutely different way than it was showed by the romanticists. A literary work that can be regarded as the best one to mirror life in a most realistic way is a novel. Realistic novel was created as a new type of the literature that developedaduringatheaVictorianaera.

Even though the realistic novels are considered to be absolutely different from the romantic ones, some romantic traits can still be found in them. First and foremost, the trait of love and passion that is so very characteristic to the romantic literature likewise can be found in realistic novels. Feelings of love, often being very strong and even fatal, are experienced by various characters. One example is, Emily Brontë’s gothic novel ‘Wuthering Heights’, that could be described as fully dedicated to passions and unrequited love. The novel has been described as ‘one of the most passionate and heartfelt novels ever written’, telling about love between two persons of different social status, that has sprung up already in the childhood. Despite the love being strong and continuing through all these years until they were grownups, they are not destinated to stay together. Yet, their love is fulfilled in the next generation by their children and they symbolically remain together forever as in the end of the novel their remainsaareaburiedatogether.

Another example of love as a romantic trait can be found in Charles Dickens’s novel ‘Great Expectations’. It is a very enlightening and significant novel also these days, telling about the main character’s Pip’s efforts to obtain the love of his beloved Estella. Pip’s sufferings, earnings and expectations, as well as...

Bibliography: 1. Dickens, Ch. Great Expectations. London: Penguin Books, 1994
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7. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens [online] available from [accessed May 20, 2010]
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