Comparison Chart for Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism
Characteristic
Quality of Literature

Neoclassicism
Decorum, concision, restraint, balance,
reason, regularity, wit
“Theproper study of mankind is Man.” –
Alexander Pope, manners, politics, social
concerns

Romanticism
Emotion, introspection, passion, sublimity,
beauty, spontaneity, irregularity, picturesqueHumankind, nature, the soul, individuality,
women, children, animals, flowers, rural,
common people

Realism
Realistic, clear, precise, serious, truthful,
accurate
The current time, facts ofindividual’s life,
housewives, business/commerce, social
conditions, everyday occurrences

Values

absolute, public, rational

private, spiritual (but not organized religion),
universal spirit innature and humankind

objectivity, moral behavior, money, life
doesn’t always have happy endings

The writer

Witty, gentlemanly, moral, incisive,
rational, capable of moral outrage
The urban,rural settings are ignorant and
unmannerly

Solitary, reflective, inspired, a person of
imagination, visionary
Rural, the countryside, city is the seat of
corruption and greed

Detachedobservers, recorder of facts, deemphasize writer’s importance
The city, the factory, inside the house

Allusion/history

Biblical, Classical Greece and Rome

The mythic, medieval, gothic, but notClassical references

Contemporary events—here and now

Language

Dressed up language, formal, full of
allusions, didactic

Beautiful, colloquial, creative

Technical, clinical, detailed,realistic

Genres

Satire, epistle, epic, sonnet

Lyric, ode

Novel, drama, newspaper

Form

Formal, regular meter, regular rhyme
scheme

Less formal, may have irregular meter and
rhymeNatural, realistic, not contrived

Ideas of nature

The order of things, harmony, rationality,
the real world as we experience it is
divinely ordered

External world is beautiful, nature is... [continua]

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