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Transcript of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy was born on June 2nd, 1840 between his father Thomas Hardy and his wife Jemima. The place of his birth was located in Higher Bockhampton in Dorset, England.
He studied at local schools: a year at the village school at the age of eight and then moved on to schools in Dorchester, the nearby country town. Unfortunately, he could not pursue a scholarly education as he wished and therefore he went to complete his apprenticeship as an architect at the age of 17.
The Writing Career/ Rejection:
Hardy began his writing career in the mid-1860s, while still working in London as an architect. In 1867-68, he wrote his first novel,
The Poor Man and The Lady
which was refused due to its extensive satires of Victorian society. In 1871, Hardy published his novel,
at his own expense. Unfortunately, the book was also unprofitable.
While working as an architect, he was sent to complete an architectural assessment of Church of St. Juliot in Cornwall. During this journey, he meets Emma Gifford, with whom he immediately falls in love.They got married in 1874, against the wishes of both their families. A year later, they settled near Dorchester. Over the years, the couple became increasingly separated due to personality differences; however, despite their differences, the couple never got divorced. Emma died in 1912 and two years later, Hardy married Florence Emily Dugdale, a children’s book writer who was 38 years younger than him.
On January 11th, 1928, Hardy died due to old age; his cremated remains were entombed in Westminster Abbey in Poet’s Corner and his separated heart was interred at Stinsford with his first wife Emma.
• Major Works
Far from the Madding Crowd(1874):
This story is about a rural life and love in Dorset. The main character is a willful, flirtatious young woman who becomes romantically involved with three widely different men.
: Although the three suitors have the common goal, they demonstrate contrasting images, becoming “foil” of one another. Through these characters, Hardy studies multidimensional love—wholehearted love versus manipulative love.
The Return of the Native (1878)
: The story shows a young man who gives up a successful career to return to his native hometown to help educate poor children. On the other hand, there is a young woman that longs to escape her hometown for a more glamorous life elsewhere; moreover, Hardy aims to present two contrasting characters.
: This novel dramatically underscores the idea that regardless of our desires, in the end we are truly helpless to escape our destiny.
The Mayor of Casterbridge(1886)
: The story concerns a man who establishes himself as a respected and prosperous leader of the community of Casterbridge, but behind his success, there is lurk of shameful secrets of his past.
: Although this story is full of deliberate coincidences and awkward prose, it reveals the dark side of Victorian society. Hardy explores the effects of cultural and economic development such as the decline of Christianity.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
follows a young woman who is victimized by the social system. The novel follows Tess, a young and naïve girl who knows nothing of the world outside her own home.In her process of growing up, she faces tragic events that change her life forever.
: Tess is a pure woman who is falsely represented by society; she symbolizes women who were victimized by society’s prejudices and treatment of sexuality, objectified as “things” rather than “beings.”
Jude the Obscure(1895)
: The main character is an impoverished man who hopes to enter divinity school. He faces issues regarding his love life – one woman who pretends to be pregnant with his child and the true love of his life.
: He integrated satires of marriage, university system and even religion in this story. He was faced with a great deal of controversy and therefore decided to stop writing fiction after
Jude the Obscure
(1903, 1906 and 1908)
: It is a dramatic poetry about Napoleon Bonaparte, French politician and military leader who ruled over Europe from 1805 to 1815.
demonstrates a series of major historical events during Napoleon’s lifetime.
• Critical Reputation
Although Hardy’s work was often criticized by Victorian society, current society values highly of his brave attempt to express his insightful messages.
-Most people see problems in their society, but they seldom speak up to make a change—Thomas Hardy was different.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
-In these stories, Hardy tries to generate pathos towards female characters, which is the reason why his stories become increasingly dark and tragic. Through this pathos, his message is conveyed.
Hardy was a contemporary writer; he was open to new ideas and religions.
-Example: he read Charles Darwin’s books and accepted the idea of evolution
-Creativity gave him the courage to challenge society as a feminist.
-His open response to differences and changes enhanced his creativity as well as his outlook on society as an author.
3. Hardy could not afford university education, which was one of the reasons why he had to enter the field of architecture instead of literature.
Despite his circumstances, he never lost his passion for writing.
-When his first novel,
The Poor Man and The Lady
was not successful, he did not lose hope.
-Eventually, he was awarded Order of Merit in 1910.
His undying enthusiasm towards writing makes him a crucial figure in English literature.
"Thomas Hardy." – Early Life, Middle Period
Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica
"Thomas Hardy."- Early Writings, Later Novels
Encyclopedia of World Biography. Gale Virtual Reference Library.
SparksNotes Plot Summary
Discussion Topic: Do feminist authors like Thomas Hardy contribute to the well-being of society?
-Are they effective in making the readers gain insight into the issues regarding women?
"It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession.”
Far From the Madding Crowd
“Ah, there’s too much of that sending to school in these days! It only does harm. Every gatepost and barn’s door you come to is sure to have some bad word or other chalked upon it by the young rascals.”
The Return of the Native
“Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?”
“All like ours?”
“I don’t know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard —tree. Most of them splendid and sound — a few blighted.”
“Which do we live on – a splendid one or a blighted one?”
“A blighted one.”
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
“People go on marrying because they can't resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month's pleasure with a life's discomfort.”
Jude the Obscure