Realism was a literary movement in the last half of the 19th century in which writers opposed much of what the Romantics had stood for. Most critics give the dates 1850's to 1880's as the dates for the strongest examples of Realism in Western literature.
Whereas the age of the Romantics valued the exceptional, the genius, and the uncommon individual, the age of Realism values members of the middle class. While the age of the Romantics valued the contribution of the genius and imagination of the writer/poet, the Realists wanted to de-emphasize the contribution of the writer and thought writers should "objectively" see contemporary life as the material for their writing. They attempted to keep themselves as writers from coming between the reader and the life they presented in their art. Also, the age of the Romantics valued the details of the present moment as a way to transcend the moment and the present world, the age of Realism on the other hand values the surface details, the everyday life, and the common conduct of middle class individuals. They do this with the purpose of creating the illusion of reality. Herik Ibsen said that the effect he was seeking in his Realistic plays was to make "the spectator feel as if he were actually sitting, listening, and looking on events happening in real life". Moreover, the Romantics valued the emotional, the intuitive, and the feelings of the innocent child and the genius, the Realists however explore the ethical choices made by common middle class individuals and the effects and consequences these ethical choices have on the lives of their middle class heroes. Furthermore, the Romantics value nature as a way of seeing God and man while the Realists question the existence or at least the importance of, God and discount the beliefs of organized Christian religions. Instead of seeking transcendence as the Romantics did, the Realists focused on ethical choices and morality in the life of middle class individuals, often without supporting Christian beliefs.