Realism Period of
American Literature
1865 - 1900
Life presented with fidelity in presenting
the inner workings of the mind.
There is an analysis of thought and
feelings in realism.
The environment has a function in shaping
of characters.
The setting is generally in the present or
recent past.
There is frequent use of colloquial speech.
Diction is natural vernacular, not
heightened or poetic; tone may be comic,
satiric, or matter-of-fact.
Characters are of the middle and low
Realist writers exposed political
corruption, economic inequity, business
deception, the exploitation of labor,
women rights problems, racial inequity
Realist often describe the relationship
between the economic transformation of
America and its moral condition.
We see in realism the introduction of a
new kind of characters:
Industrial workers and rural poor
Ambitious businessman and vagrants
Unheroic soldiers
There is a desire by Realist writers to preserve
distinctive ways of life before industrialization
dispersed or homogenized them.
Realist writers wrote about coming to terms
with the harsh realities of the “new times.”
The rapid growth of magazines creating a new,
largely female audience for short fiction.
Many Local Colorists (realistic female writers)
described a patriarchal society from female
Definition of Realism
Realism is the post civil war literary
movement between 1865-1900.
Realism directly opposes the previous
movement Romanticism. It focuses on the
harsh realities of life and gives the reader a
true sense of “local color”. Which is the
fictional recreation of the authors own
Realism renders reality closely and in
comprehensive detail. Selective presentation
of reality with an emphasis on verisimilitude,
Character is more important than action and
plot; and complex ethical choices are often
the subject.
Realist Writers
Mark Twain (1835–1910)
Henry James (1843 – 1916)
William Dean Howells (1837 – 1920)
“Local Color”
Sarah Orne Jewett (1849 – 1909)
Kate Chopin (1851 – 1904)
Bret Harte (1836 – 1902)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860 – 1935)
Edward Arlington Robinson (1869 – 1935)
Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)
Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)
The Realism Period (1865-1900)
Incorporates a difficult time in
American history, with the Civil War,
industrialization, Reconstruction,
urbanization, and more. In American
literature, famous writers like Charles
W. Chesnutt, Stephen Crane, Henry
James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton
were presenting a more realistic view of
life in their works of literature.
In American literature, the term "realism"
encompasses the period of time from the Civil
War to the turn of the century during which
William Dean Howells, Rebecca Harding Davis,
Henry James, Mark Twain, and others wrote
fiction devoted to accurate representation and an
exploration of American lives in various contexts.
As the United States grew rapidly after the Civil
War, the increasing rates of democracy and
literacy, the rapid growth in industrialism and
urbanization, an expanding population base due
to immigration, and a relative rise in middle-class
affluence provided a fertile literary environment
for readers interested in understanding these
rapid shifts in culture. In drawing attention to
this connection.
Broadly defined as "the faithful
representation of reality" or
"verisimilitude," realism is a literary
technique practiced by many schools
of writing. Realism is a technique
that denotes a particular kind of
subject matter, especially the
representation of middle-class life.
There is a revolt against against
romanticism, an interest in scientific
method, the systematizing of the
study of documentary history, and
the influence of rational philosophy,
all affected the rise of realism.
Realism is nothing more and
nothing less than the truthful
treatment of material.
William Dean Howells

Realism Period of American Literature 1865