Difference Between Realism and Naturalism

Realism and Naturalism are two words that are closely linked to each other.

They are also interchangeable in some scenarios. Realism refers to the view or aspect of visualization which is pre-considered, or its survival is not dependent on what someone has already visualized or perceived.

Naturalism is a method of what the writer or author portrays existence.

Realism vs Naturalism

The main difference between realism and naturalism is that realism depicts more situations appealing to that of the present or those which are present originally. Naturalism refers to the idealistic approach to literature wherein nature-based, socialistic and economic topics are spoken for the betterment of society. Further, both terms are distinct and specific in approach.

Realism vs Naturalism

Realism refers to the view that reality is something that is pre-considered or perceived by a mind.

This term explains the real objects in the whole wide world that is present as a concept that is for real and it isn’t just a belief that idealist would make us believe it for reality.

Naturalism is the ideology or subjective conditions that are focused or determined to improvise the lives of society. It is also distinct to the irresistible character of mankind that could not resist the pre-existing fate.

They are more specific and distinct. It is more of a realistic depiction of the pre-existing species.

Comparison Table Between Realism and Naturalism

Parameters of ComparisonRealismNaturalism
Meaning A subjective representation of reality or original life characterized by a literary movement.It is an extensive or extended study or representation of realism that is more overlapped with that of scientific theories.
PortrayalRealism portrayed life as such.Naturalism is more dependent on portraying life in association with environmental and biological concepts.
Character depictionRealism depicts middle-class characters.Naturalism depicts the poor or those below the middle class.
Books Realism is involved in novels that involve themes like society and class.Naturalism is more fully-fledged through the pieces of literature that involves violence and corruption.
Literature focusIt is more focusing on the individual’s perspective.It is more focusing on those forces that cannot be controlled, such as the biological forces.

What is Realism?

Realism is as the term in itself suggests, exposes the reality present in the lives of individuals.

Realism is an influential literary movement that dominated the arts, literature, and theatre in the 19th century. In simple terms, the era of realism painted a realistic picture of humans and their daily lives through its art forms.

The portrayal of contemporary life was accurate and detailed. Arts in realism were grounded in reality and not fictionalized.

Realism was born out as a counter-movement to the era of Romanticism.

It rejected the Romanticistic ideals of aesthetics, fiction, supernatural elements, and over idealization of the world. In contrast, the artists of the Realism era depicted lives as it was in their era.

As an aftereffect of the 1848 Revolution of France, the Realism era witnessed the rise in the stories of the common man. Literature moved away from the noble figures and entered the lives of the middle and working classes.

Arts revolved around the common man.

Positivist Philosophy by Auguste Comte influenced Europe to indulge in the scientific and sociological study of society. Professional Journalism, which rose during the same era, did not fail to record the events as they happened.

Intellectual movements like these influenced the artists of the Realism era. The Realism era portrayed a realistic idea of society through various forms of art.

What is Naturalism?

Naturalism was a continuation of Realism. It followed Realistic ideals by including determinism and the methods of natural sciences.

As a literary movement born out of Realism, it holds on to Realistic ideas like the rejection of Romanticism. It was widespread in late 19th century Europe.

The literary movement Naturalism originated in France and had its roots in the works of Hippolyte Taine. The ideals of Naturalism were spread by Emile Zola’s work “The Experimental Novel.”

Positivist ideas by Comte were the basis of Naturalism and were expounded in Zola’s work. Zola emphasized imparting scientific methods in the literature and conducting controlled experiments with the characters acting as the phenomena.

Naturalism had different factions within it and, authors had divided opinions.

American Naturalism was popular in the American region. This movement was popularized by Frank Norris. He differed from Zola’s view of Naturalism.

Norris viewed Naturalism as Romantic, while Zola was completely opposed and viewed it as truly Realist.

Zola’s Naturalism included the Darwinian view of nature and attempted to infuse scientific methods into literature. Naturalism was certainly popular in late 19th century Europe.

Authors around the continent were expounding Naturalistic ideals in their works. But it was criticized by the contemporary authors as the movement was a failure.

Main Differences Between Realism and Naturalism

  1. Realism refers to pre-existing species and characters influenced through it. Whereas Naturalism exists to impact society.
  2. Realism depicts the middle-class standard, whereas naturalism depicts the class below to those of the middle class.
  3. Realism portrays life as such, while naturalism portrays it along with different elements alongside biological species and environment.
  4. Realism is more on a one-sided perspective, whereas naturalism is more dependent on other forces.
  5. Realism can be found in more novels that involve society-based content, whereas naturalism can be found in novels talking about biological elements.
Difference Between Realism and Naturalism


Both the terms realism and naturalism possess certain distinct characteristics and are interchanged at quite a few places.

Both the terms are important literary movements that grew in history and are certainly widely appreciated for their usage. Realism is more commonly used in novels, and naturalism is also certainly used with realism.

But it does contain a hint of biological addition to impacting the society.

Realism refers to the view that reality is something that is pre-considered by an individual’s mind.

This term explains the real objects in the whole wide world that is present as a concept that is for real and it isn’t just a belief that idealist would make us believe it for reality.

Naturalism is more reliant on subjective conditions that are focused or determined to improvise the lives of society. These two terms, realism and naturalism, have taken an important role in the literature.


  1. https://www.elsevier.com/books/direct-versus-indirect-realism/smythies/978-0-12-812141-2
  2. https://muse.jhu.edu/journal/455

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