Monday, July 18, 2011


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The term realism has many varying meanings. A central idea is the view that the author should represent things, actions, events and humans as they are. In 1th century drama, it refers to a less extreme form of naturalism. They used method acting which is a style of acting in which the actor immerses himself into the characters personality, even outside rehearsal times, in order to feel his way into the character, thereby approaching the action from the feeling life of the character, rather than from the objective study of the actor. Realism is also a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing.

“Realism is nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material.” --William Dean Howells

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How, where and when Realism began

Realism came about partly as a response to these new social , artistic conditions. The movement began in France and by 1860 had some general rules. These were

· Truth resides in material objects and we perceive to all five senses;

· Truth is verified through science

· The scientific method�observation�would solve everything

· Human problems were the highest form of science

· Art�according to the realist view�had as its purpose, to better mankind.

Realists centred their attention to a remarkable degree on the immediate, the here and now, the specific action, and the verifiable consequence (A Handbook to Literature 48).

Major influences of Realism

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. Realism however was used differently in European contexts than in American literature.

Realism drama was an important form of Naturalism, which refers to various kinds of 1th and 0th century literature, which attempted to reflect the reality of social life.

For example, in the 1th century, the writer Charles Dickens exposed the awful conditions of working class life in Victorian England, while in 0th century; William Burroughs depicts the offensive haze of drug addiction in his ‘Junkie realism.’

Major characteristics and effects of Realism

It was hard to get realism accepted widely

q Realism first showed itself in staging and costuming. Three-dimensional details in these areas had been added by 1800. By 1850, theatre productions had historically accurate settings and constant details, partly as a result of romantic ideals. In Wagner’s operas the auditorium was darkened, the stage was framed with a double arch, there were no side boxes and no centre aisle, and all seats were equally good. Further, he did not allow musicians to tune in the orchestra pit, allowed no applause or curtain calls, and strove for historical accuracy in scenery and costumes. Even though Wagner’s operas are mythical, his attempts at illusionism helped gain public acceptance for realism.

q In realism, character is more important than action and plot; and complex moral choices are often the subject. Characters appear in their real temperament and motive; they are in an understandable relation to nature, to each other, to their social class, and to their own past.

q Class is important. Events were usually believable.

q Realistic novels avoid the sensational, dramatic elements of naturalistic novels and romances.

q Diction is natural, not heightened or poetic; the tone may be comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact.

q Objectivity in presentation becomes increasingly important, obvious author comments or other intrusions lessen as the century progresses.

Major playwrights of Realism

Ibsens Plays

· Ghosts�1881�dealt with the concept of the sins of the father transferring to the son, resulting in syphilis.

· Pillars of Society � 1877 � dealt with war and business.

· Hedda Gabbler � 180 � a powerful woman takes her life at the end of the play to get away from her boredom with society.

· A Doll’s House � 187 � Nora leaves her husband Torvald and her children at the end of the play; often considered the slam heard around the world, Nora’s action must have been very shocking to the Victorian audience.

Later, Ibsen turned to more symbolic and abstract dramas; but his realism affected others, and helped lead to realistic theatre, which has become, despite variations and rejections against it, the predominant form of theatre even today.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-150) � in England

Uncommon for his witty humor

Made fun of societies notion using for the purpose of educating and changing. His plays tended to show the accepted attitude, then demolished that attitude while showing his own solutions.

· Arms and the Man (184) � about love and war and honor.

· Mrs. Warren’s Profession � prostitution.

· Major Barbara (105) � a munitions manufacturer gives more to the world (jobs, etc.) while the Salvation Army only prolongs of the status quo.

· Pygmalion (11) � shows the transforming of a flower girl into a society woman, and exposes the phoniness of society. The musical My Fair Lady was based on this play.

Anton Chekhov (1860-104) � in Russia

Chekhov is known more for poetic expiration and symbolism, compelling psychological reality, people trapped in social situations, hope in hopeless situations. He claimed that he wrote comedies; others think they are sad and tragic. Characters in Chekhov’s plays seem to have a fate that is a direct result of what they are. His plays have an illusion of no plot. His realism has affected other Playwrights, as did his symbolic meanings in the texts of his plays and in the titles of his plays.

· The Seagull (188).

· Three Sisters (100) � we did the show here last year; about three sisters who want to move to Moscow but never do.

· The Cherry Orchard (10)

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