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SOCIAL REALISM
UNIT II: PHILIPPINE REALITIES
SOCIAL REALISM DEFINITION
A type of literature that tries to reflect, by attention to detail, the true nature of reality; the purpose of such
literary works is usually to convey a social or political comment on the conditions being presented in a
particular society. The most famous Philippine literary work in this tradition is Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, which
was a critique of Philippine society during the Spanish colonial era.
Social Realism is an artistic movement that depicts the daily struggles of the working class.
It developed as a reaction against Romanticism.
It was introduced in England by George Eliot. People were originally outraged by it.
Social realism is a style of art, fiction, movies and plays. It describes the daily life of workers and poor people.
Social realist artists try to show people and their lives in a realistic way. This means that they often show
things which are not beautiful or attractive. They may show people who are elderly, sick, sad, and insane
or have a disability. This does not mean that a Realist work of art or literature is ugly. It can be made
beautiful by the way that the artist or writer creates it.
Social realism art does not belong to one period of history, but has been the style of some artists in different
centuries and different countries. Caravaggio, who was a late Renaissance artist, painted "Realist" pictures.
Several Spanish painters were "Realists": Velazquez, Esteban Murillo and Francisco de Goya. There were
many realist painters in the 19th century, including Gustave Courbet in France and Luke Fildes in England.
Social Realism was popular in Russian art and literature. In the 20th century it became the main type of
literature in the Soviet Union. It was also used by David Siqueiros to depict daily struggles of the people in
his country, Mexico
RATIONALE:
Filipino Students should be encouraged to read in general
especially Filipino novels or stories in particular. While many
students are more familiar with foreign books like Harry Potter,
they are relatively ignorant of books written by their own people,
especially works which seriously tackle socio-historical issues
that directly confront the problems of the nation.
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REALISM BEGETS SOCIAL REALISM
Realism
How the upper-class and aristocracy perceived the world
Very intellectual (scientific, empirical, and democratic)
Western oriented
Social Realism
Social realists choose:
o Everyday happenings
o Current events
o Social relationships
o Interaction and disparity of social classes.
Aimed to effect social change through socio-political pieces
Works that portrayed the truths of society
ROMANTICISM: DEFINITION
It is a philosophical movement of the 19
th
century.
It was a reaction to the Enlightenment.
It involved belief in the power of the human spirit and emotions.
ROMANTICISM VS. SOCIAL REALISM
Romanticism
Social Realism
Showed the strength of humanity
Showed human flaws in society
Beauty and Power of nature
Cruelty of human nature
Very grand art style
Art includes more of individual people and smalle
settings
Believed that we are all connected by a great
transcending spirit
Believed the rich isolated themselves from the poor

“True art is a product of its society. It reflects the
human condition of its time and aids in the
awakening of social consciousness.”
Rachel Mayo, The Essence of things (2012)
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SOCIAL REALISM IN LITERATURE
Laid the groundwork for contemporary tragedy
An experimentation with the social works
It was determined to discover hypocrisy and manipulation
of the upper class.
COMMON THEMES OF SOCIAL REALISM IN
LITERATURE/ ART
1. Social Injustices
2. Struggles for independence
3. Agrarian problems
4. Foreign economic domination
5. Export labor
6. Exploitation of women and children
7. Ecological damage
8. Three (3) basic evils of society: feudalism,
bureaucrat capitalism, and imperialism
9. Militarization and human right violations
10. Growth of mass movement
11. Vision of a new order
FEMINIST CRITICISM
FEMINIST CRITICISM DEFINITION
Feminist Criticism is concerned with the politics of women’s condition within literature; this includes the
depiction of fictional female characters.
It is also concerned with the difference and marginalization of women.
It focuses on understanding ways gender roles are reflected or contradicted by texts, how dominance and
submission play out in the texts, and how gender roles evolve in texts.
This approach examines images of women and concepts of the feminine myth and literature; uses the
psychological, archetypal, and sociological approaches; often focuses on female characters that have been
neglected in previous criticism. Feminist critics attempt to correct or supplement what they regard as a
predominantly male-dominated critical perspective.
SEVEN TYPES OF CONTEMPORARY FEMINISTS
1. Socio feminists study the social roles of women in literature
2. Semio feminists- study how women are coded and classified as women
3. Psycho Feminists- study the psychoanalytic and mythic theories of the feminine.
ACTIVITY
Write a critical essay on Social Realism in
Literature using the texts: “Lengua Para
Diablo,” “Preludes”, and “The Justice
System”

One is not born, but rather becomes, a
woman.”
Simone de Beauvoir
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4. Marxist Feminists- view women as members of the oppressed working class
5. Socio-Semio-Psycho Feminists- study the psychoanalytic and mythic theories of the feminine
6. Lesbian Feminists writing metaphorically based on the female body rather than the male
7. Black feminists consists of blocks; see themselves as most oppressed.
GENERAL PRECEPTS AND ITS UNDERPINNING
Precept # 1
Feminist Criticism looks into how the patriarchal
system of the society marginalizes women as depicted
in literature.
Precept # 2
Feminist Criticism was supported by Beauvior.
According to her, Feminists try to answer the following
questions:
Precept # 3
Feminist Criticism looks into some biases used In
language and literature.
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Precept # 4
Feminist Criticism believes that there are
words/phrases/ language used in several texts that are
only for women.
Precept# 5
Feminist Criticism is concerned on the experiences of
women from all races, classes, and cultures.
Precept # 6
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Feminist Criticism believes that women writers write
differently from the men.
SYMBOLISM
SYMBOLISM is the practice or art of using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea. An action, person,
place, word, or object can all have a symbolic meaning. When an author wants to suggest a certain mood or emotion,
he can use symbolism to hint at it, rather than just blatantly saying it.
SYMBOLISM IN LITERATURE
Symbolism is often used by writers to enhance their writing. Symbolism can give a literary work more
richness and color and can make the meaning of the work deeper.
Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that are
different from their literal sense.
Symbolism can take different forms. Generally, it is an object representing another, to give an entirely
different meaning that is much deeper and more significant. Sometimes, however, an action, an event or a
word spoken by someone may have a symbolic value. For instance, “smile” is a symbol of friendship.
Similarly, the action of someone smiling at you may stand as a symbol of the feeling of affection which that
person has for you.
Symbols do shift their meanings depending on the context they are used in. “A chain,” for example, may
stand for “union” as well as “imprisonment”. Thus, symbolic meaning of an object or an action is understood
by when, where, and how it is used. It also depends on who reads the work.
IN LITERATURE, SYMBOLISM CAN TAKE MANY FORMS INCLUDING:
A figure of speech where an object, person, or situation has another meaning other than its literal meaning.
The actions of a character, word, action, or event that have a deeper meaning in the context of the whole story.
METAPHORS AS SYMBOLISM
A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses symbolism.
It compares two things that are not similar and shows that they actually do have something in common.
In a metaphor, there is an additional meaning to a word. This makes it an example of symbolism.
Examples of symbolism that take the form of metaphors include:
Time is money: This is symbolic because it warns you that when you spend your time, you are giving up the
opportunity to be doing something else with that time (just as when you spend your money, you give up
your chance to do something else with the money). Further, like money, time is not infinite.
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Life is a roller-coaster: This is symbolic because it indicates that there will be ups and downs in life that you
have to weather.
He is a rock: This is symbolic because it signifies that he is strong and dependable.
Love is a jewel: This is symbolic because it suggests that love is rare and pressure.
ALLEGORY AS SYMBOLISM
Sometimes symbolism takes the form of a literary tool called an allegory. Allegory is an extended use of symbolism
and metaphors. A story, a poem, or even a whole book can be an allegory and the symbolism will permeate
throughout.
One example of an allegory is the monologue from Shakespeare in “As You Like It.”
“All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players;they have their exits and their
entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts,”
This is symbolic of the fact that people are putting on a show and that they play many roles over the course
of their lives.
SYMBOLISM IN POETRY
Many poets used symbolism to deepen the meaning of their poems. Here is an excerpt from William Blake's “Ah
Sunflower.” In it, Blake refers to life cycle and uses sunflowers to represent humankind and that they desire
everlasting life.
“Ah Sunflower, weary of time, Who countest the steps of the sun; Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveler’s journey is done;”
SYMBOLISM IN EVERYDAY LIFE
Our language contains an immense number of symbols whose intended meaning or significance is well-known and
accepted by the majority. Of course, many of these do wind up in books, magazines, stories, and other written works.
SYMBOLISM IS FOUND IN COLORS:
Black is used to represent death or evil.
White stands for life and purity.
Red can symbolize blood, passion, danger, or immoral character.
Purple is a royal color.
Yellow stands for violence or decay.
Blue represents peacefulness and calm.
Symbolism, as you see, can be found almost anywhere. Any time there is something that represents more than its
literal meaning, this can be an example of symbolism.
FLOWERS AS SYMBOLS
Even flowers can have a symbolism:
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Roses stand for romance.
Violets represent shyness.
Lilies stand for beauty and temptation.
Chrysanthemums represent perfection.
SYMBOLIC OBJECTS
Objects are often used to symbolize something else:
A chain can symbolize the coming together of two things.
A ladder can represent the relationship between heaven and earth or ascension.
A mirror can denote the sun but when it is broken, it can represent an unhappy union or a separation.
YourDictionary definition and usage example. Copyright © 2018 by LoveToKnow Corp
COMMON EXAMPLES OF SYMBOLISM IN EVERYDAY LIFE
In our daily life, we can easily identify objects that can be taken as examples of symbolism, such as the following:
The dove is a symbol of peace.
A red rose, or the color red, stands for love or romance.
Black is a symbol that represents evil or death.
A ladder may stand as a symbol for a connection between heaven and earth.
A broken mirror may symbolize separation.
SHORT EXAMPLES OF SYMBOLISM IN SENTENCES
Ching Chua gave his wife a red rose. (In Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes property and happiness.)
David stopped his car at the red signal. (In other cultures, the color red is symbol of blood, passion, and
danger.)
Rebels raised a white flag to negotiate. (During war, the color white symbolizes making peace with the
enemy. Otherwise, it represents purity and life.)
The Red Cross is working around the world. (The symbol of the cross represents Christianity, and the red
cross in particular represents aid in times of need.)
The Muslim forces raised their flag with a crescent on it. (The crescent moon represents Islam.)
He turned green when found a wallet. (Green color is often associated with greed, jealousy, and monetary
affairs.)
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They dressed in black to the funeral of their friend. (The color black is associated with death.)
The yellow boat turned into the channel, to make the tourists happy. The color yellow color is the symbol
of deterioration and infidelity, as well as the symbol of freshness and happiness.)
He was disappointed when the mirror broke. (Broken mirror is an symbol of separation.)
He gave a red rose to his wife on Valentine Day. (Red rose is a symbol for love.)
He, after a long time, saw a silver lining in the shape of the arrival of his brother. (Silver edge/lining of clouds
symbolize hope and optimism.)
You have a sixth sense like an owl. (Owl symbolizes wisdom.)
You work like an ox. (The ox symbolizes hard work and stamina.)
When he saw a bat in dream, he grew white with fear. (Bats are the symbol of death.)
EXAMPLES OF SYMBOLISM IN LITERATURE
To develop symbolism in his work, a writer utilizes other figures of speech, like metaphors, similes, and allegory, as
tools. Some symbolism examples in literature are listed below with brief analysis:
Example #1: As you Like It (By William Shakespeare)
We find symbolic value in Shakespeare’s famous monologue in his play As you Like It:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
they have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”
These lines are symbolic of the fact that men and women, in the course of their lives, perform different roles. “A
stage” here symbolizes the world, and “players” is a symbol for human beings.
Example #2: Ah Sunflower (By William Blake)
William Blake goes symbolic in his poem Ah Sunflower. He says:
“Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveler’s journey is done;”
Blake uses a sunflower as a symbol for human beings, and “the sun” symbolizes life. Therefore, these lines
symbolically refer to their life cycle and their yearning for a never-ending life.
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