Romanticism is an ideological movement in literature, science and art. It was originated in Europe at the end of the seventeenth century, as a reaction to the industrial revolution, rationalism and materialism in general and the results of French Revolution. All these explain the deep disappointment, which embraced many artists of Romanticism. It reflected in a pessimistic tone and color of the tragic art. This is where to look for the origins of life in the image of the disappointed hero, praised by romantics. That is why Romanticism was decisive for idealism in philosophy and cult feelings, not reason, appeal to the nation, seizure folklore and folk artistic creativity, historic quest increased awareness and study of the historical past (historicism), sometimes escape from the surrounding reality in an idealized past or dreamed future or in fiction. “Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling”. (Honour, 1979) Romanticism led to the development of romantic world and romantic style and the rise of new literary genres – ballads, lyrical songs, the romance poetry, historical novels and dramas.
Realism is a literary, artistic and intellectual movement of the 19th century. It was a form of response to the romantic and classical idealization, and denial of generally accepted academic standards. Noted by sharp social orientation, it got the name of critical realism in the art of becoming a reflection of the acute of social problems and aspirations to evaluate the phenomena of social life. The guiding principle of realism of the 19th century became an objective display of the essential aspects of life, combined with the height of the ideal and the truth of the author; reproduction of typical characters and situations in the fullness of their artistic individualization; preference in the ways the image of “forms of life itself” with a predominant interest in the problem of “the individual and society”.
There are no such features that can clearly state when the period of Romanticism ended and at once the period of realism started. It is impossible, because Realism, as well as, Romanticism developed in the first half of the nineteenth century in a similar historical and aesthetic background. Sometimes their development was consistent, sometimes parallel, and sometimes they overlapped. They both are plot-driven. The characters evolve together with the plot, a lot of details are used to describe their inner state, although Romanticism is inclined to portraying emotions and feelings and Realisms liked to deepen into the psychological state of the character. But there exist some vivid differences among the period that should be mentioned. Romanticism was focused on emotions and feelings, love and passion, on picturesque and beauty. Its subjects were generally nature, individuality, soul, humankind and common people. Realism payed more attention to the facts that are serious, clear and realistic, accurate and truthful. The followers of the movement in their pieces of art mostly portrayed facts of individual’s life, social conditions or everyday occurrences. The settings of Romanticism were rural, in countryside. Realists preferred the city, its factories and plants as an entourage.
The narrative poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by George Gordon Byron is a classic example of a romantic artwork. Even Byron's name is associated with a romantic view of the world. In the author's works originated a special character – intelligent, lonely, frustrated romantic. The hero has a dismissive attitude to the society, where feels alien. He suffers from unrealized romantic illusions, thinks that deserves a better fate. Such a person has a strong rebellious character. A classic Byronic hero is a disappointed romantic, wanderer and an exile. He is capable of strong feelings, but often hides them. The hero does not want to put up with the conventions of society, puts himself above any laws.
Charles Dickens was a great representative of a period of Realism. In such his novels as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield he concentrated on the inner world of characters, portrayed delicate nuances of their feelings and thoughts, thorough description of the appearance of characters, their housing and manner of speech. His heroes do not travel in order to find his place in the society, they are already there in orphan houses, on the streets of the city and this harsh reality oppresses them. They suffer from the real problems and not from the unconditional love like romantic heroes do. Dickens preferred to depict relevant social and moral conflicts using satire, grotesque and humor.
Realism had an influence on the future cultural movement called Magic realism. It is associated with Latin American writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. (Zamora & Faris, 1995) Magic realism is a realism, which combines elements of real and fantastic, domestic and mythical, real and imaginary, mysterious.
Byerly, A. (2006). Realism, Representation, and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Honour, H. (1979). Romanticism. New York: Harper & Row.
Zamora, L., & Faris, W. (1995). Magical realism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.