The late nineteenth century gave rise to a new literary movement called realism. Realism is the attempt to create an accurate portrayal of life in literature without filter. The movement aims to portray the life of people from all walks of life, but especially of the working class and the poor. Two of the most acclaimed writers from this movement are Leo Tolstoy from Russia, and Guy de Maupassant from France. Their works, “How Much Land Does a Man Need,” and “The Jewels,” respectively, portray the life of two characters from different lifestyles. Despite this, both authors use the characters, theme, and irony in their works to tackle the idea of self-improvement, and how people will continue to have flaws despite their self-improvement.
The characters in the two works show how people are imperfect, and how despite their attempts to improve their self, flaws will remain. In Tolstoy’s “How Much Land Does a Man Need”, the main character is Pahom, a peasant in the Russian countryside. In the beginning of the story, he was perfectly content with his life, emphasizing how he has “no time to let any nonsense settle in our heads” (Tolstoy, 753). However, he got more land, and despite his improvements in life, he became greedier, which became the primary flaw in his personality. Likewise, de Maupassant’s “The Jewels” introduces us to Madame Lantin, who was married off to Monsieur Lantin to improve her life. Her seemingly virtuous and innocent appearance became the main