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At an Inn -Thomas Hardy
Transcript of At an Inn -Thomas Hardy
- was heavily influenced by the musicality of his father and Charles Dickens leading him to become very critical of the Victorian society he lived in
- though he had always regarded himself as a poet it was his novels such as 'Far from the madding crowd' that really made notable during his time
-when he died he asked to buried in the same grave as his first wife Emma but only his heart was with his ashes being buried at The Poets Corner
Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928)
Social & Historical Context
As seen in Victorian literature, from the 1830s to the 1870s, Britain underwent changes that transformed the lives of its people:
British manufacturing became dominant in the world and trade and the financial sector also grew significantly
This period also saw a significant shift of population from the countryside to the towns and the consequent growth of large cities.
An age of optimism
The Victorian age was a turbulent period which, in many ways, saw itself as a time of confident progress. Many people believed that Britain was leading the world into a new and better age:
More enlightened laws
The benefits of wealth created through industrial development
Greater political stability than in the rest of Europe.
However, these changes were not always positive. The daily needs and problems of ordinary people included: poverty, poor housing, ill health, a horrifying level of child mortality, hunger, long hours of grinding labour.
The rapid changes of the time benefited some people long before others. The social focus of many Victorian novels posed key moral and social questions about issues such as:
The need for schooling and the care of orphans and other deprived children
Cruelty to children and the corruption of children by criminals
The problems created by emphasis on social class and newly acquired wealth
The problems created by rapid industrialization and urbanization and the conflict between employers and workers.
The case for change
Strong moral and religious reasons were put forward in favour of legal changes to improve
- also to consider
Hardy was an Anglican but not a devout one and often toyed with conversion. He also at one time referred his views and ideas to the works of Darwin and other agnostics. Throughout his work references are made of the idea of their being a supernatural force through indifference probably due to him delving into other religious practices such as Deism and Spiritism
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At an Inn -Thomas Hardy
When we as strangers sought
Their catering care,
Veiled smiles bespoke their thought
Of what we were.
They warmed as they opined
Us more than friends -
That we had all resigned
For love's dear ends.
And that swift sympathy
With living love 10
Which quicks the world—maybe
The spheres above,
Made them our ministers,
Moved them to say,
“Ah, God, that bliss like theirs 15
Would flush our day!”
And we were left alone
As Love’s own pair;
Yet never the love-light shone
Between us there! 20
But that which chilled the breath
And palsied unto death
The pane-fly’s tune.
The kiss their zeal foretold, 25
And now deemed come,
Came not: within his hold
Love lingered numb.
Why cast he on our port
A bloom not ours? 30
Why shaped us for his sport
As we seemed we were not
That day afar,
And now we seem not what 35
We aching are.
O severing sea and land,
O laws of men,
Ere death, once let us stand
As we stood then!
This alongside Stanza2 represents what onlookers thought of Hardy and Emma despite they themselves not being aware of the aura they're emitting
The facade that they created made them appear happy
the reality of their love is revealed
contrast suggests atmosphere is painfully chilling
alliteration is gone
change and Hardy's
there was actually no love between them
links to aching - physically old as time grew relationship came to death
no certainty to relationship
- regrets betraying his wife
the question answer format to common motif of Hardys'
-he's contemplating events
- regrets that he didnt try harfer to rekindle his romance with Emma after her death and wished to be what others saw them
no song of love just a pane-fly's tune
- Hardy and his lover (not emma) go to an inn: the owners think they're more than friends, when actually 'never the love-light shone between us there'
- Years later he looks back and wishes they were actually together 'as we stood then' irony of actually being 'strangers'when the owners were actually jealous of their apparent bliss
- Love is personified 2shaped us for his sport in after hours?rhetoric, fits in with Hardy's views of higher powers/fate
final stanza is ironinc as they finally want to get together but cant because of laws of men and geography.
his mother 'Jemima' was
the one who educated him until he went to school age 8
he became an apprentice to the local architect at age 16 because his family lacked the funds to send him to University
he was extremely unhappy in London as he felt inferior due to the prominent social class differences at the time and eventually resettled back in Dorset
'veiled' suggests something of a rather sexual or forbidden nature s&h context - sexual acts were seen to be reserved for those married so veiled suggests that this is may be the case between the narrator and his stranger/lover
alliteration begins a stable flow of thought - this helps to convey to the reader the true message of the poem and also piques the interest of the reader - 'what are they seeking'
'resigned' also shows this as people were very reserved at the time so things concerning love or sexuality were often concealed between layers of euphemisms
the same alliteration occurs in Stanza 1 therefore reaffirming the tone present in the poem
'living love' conveys the idea of love as something more than just abstract- it is substantial therefore giving a sort of weight and reality to it
religious imagery - but not conventional Christianity 'spheres' conveys Hardy's belief of the supernatural as having an impact on the physical however as he only toyed with the idea 'God' (christian underlying)retains his attachment with his Anglican ideas
the love being described does not actually belong to the couple - you could consider it to be an illegitimate love accepted during Victorian times
their love has been shaped by society's conventions and standards - in their society love is a sport - women were reliant on men financially and socially so needed to 'hunt' for them and this was the underlying concept of social events etc.. despite being conveyed over layers of unreality
their love was already predetermined with a kiss of zeal and they could not escape it - makes the reader think of Stanza 1 - 'veiled smiles' - what was veiled is now being ucovered
the tone is rather bitter and it seems to almost blame this higher supernatural force for not presenting them with a tangible love that they can say is theirs'. despite the lingering of their love they can only remain numb to it because it is not theirs'
The poem is a narrative form about two people 'at an inn' 'catering'. However the hyphens structurally create a sense of divide, suggesting they're not.
The narrative voice in Stanzas' 1 to 2 suggest the relationship fulfilled with joy and happiness due to the use of positive lens. The 'speakers above' connotates fate created the love as 'God', 'ministers' and 'spheres' are all referred too - suggesting love is unreal and heavenly. However the narrator doesn't make it clear if its the relationship or love in general being referred to - creating a narrative gap.
Another narrative gap is made as the reader is not told why the 'lovers' were 'deemed'. The structural change is furthered as the caesura 'came not', suggests love stops developing from here on as the rhetorical question ' a bloom not ours' suggests their relationship will not rebirth as a flower or spring.
bitter and vengeful ending thinking of how he is betraying his wife
hint into his regrets about the relationship he had with Emma
contrasts and highlights the importance of time at this specific moment, it suggests the importance of distance between then and now
the time is intensified