Plan - Realism in Great Expectations and Robinson Crusoe

Topics: Novel, Robinson Crusoe, Great Expectations Pages: 5 (1668 words) Published: May 9, 2014
 ‘Realism falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it.’ (Eugène Ionesco) Discuss the relation between realist literature and the world it represents. Actual Quote “Realism falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it; it does not take into account our basic truths and our fundamental obsessions: love, death, astonishment. It presents man in a reduced and estranged perspective. Truth is in our dreams, in the imagination.” Start by talking about realism and realist literature. Realism began in the 19th century? My interpretation of the question.

Explain that the essay will respond to the quote with reference to Robinson Crusoe and Great Expectations. I will study how the texts attempt to construct reality with issues such as gender and race but do both have problematic features that support the argument raised by Ionesco. Realism began in the 19th century? Defoe seen as the father of realism Insert and analyse quotes where possible and respond to critics/opinions.

Realism in Robinson Crusoe
1. Realism

‘The editor believes the thing to be a just history of fact; neither is there any appearance of fiction in it.’ (Preface to Robinson Crusoe)

‘Given its accumulation of ‘realistic’ descriptions and detail, its capacity to name and map out time and space as if it mirrored reality, realist fiction emerged as part of a culture obsessed with the truths and realities of an increasingly scientific and secular world’ (Sean Purchase, Key Concepts in Victorian Literature (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), p. 185)

‘According to Marxist critics, for example, realist Victorian fiction… embodies middle-class ideologies and values, so that the very discourse of “realism” it provides is really a middle-class adaptation of reality from the outset’ (Purchase, p. 186)

In The Rise of the Novel, Ian Watt identified the following elements as characteristic of the early novel:

A concern to account for probability; a concern to tell you who, what, why, where and when. Watt describes reading a novel as like listening to evidence in a court of law. Specific, recognisable and often present-day settings.

Mixed characters, characters who change over time.
Celebration of private, domestic (rather than public, heroic) virtues. Plain language.
(Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel, London: Chatto & Windus, 1957)

Locate evidence of each of the above in Robinson Crusoe. You might wish to focus on the opening three pages of the novel but feel free to look at any section.

Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" began the literary genre of realistic fiction. The aspects of his writing that define "realism" would be the immense detail he uses; descriptive language; and the flow of his narrative (dialect included). Defoe concentrates on the qualities of different objects, which provide us with a picture to accompany the words. His first clay pot, the crude fashion of his garments, and the grindstone are a few of the things we can almost touch when reading. Defoe not only introduced this genre, but I believe that in many ways he is still the master. daniel defoe expresses his work in realism via : 

- first person narrator. 
- using specific dates . 
- using real places 
- using details 
- fallibility 
- diaries

Unrealistic Rob Cru
Although we do not think too highly of the literary experience of the average 18th century reader, even he would remain sceptical after taking the author at his word. Defoe's solution to this problem is most original: Fact is his strategy, and triviality his weapon. Of course, this technique of describing as many trivial events as possible to make the story seem more realistic, has (again) become a common aspect of almost every novel to date. In almost 400 years, we have gone from one extreme to another: From a time when it was revolutionary to introduce this formula in...
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