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Thomas Hardy Country Complex And Pessimistic Fatalism English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2750 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in Upper Bockhampton, not far from Dorchester, in Dorsetshire, southern England. The son of Thomas Hardy, a master mason or building contractor, and Jemima Hand, a woman of some literary interests. Hardy’s formal education consisted of about eight years in local schools. He was bright enough so that, by this time, he’d read a good deal in English, French, and Latin on his own. Later, in London, he made his own rather careful study of painting and English poetry. He was also interested in music and learned to play the violin. At the age of sixteen, he was apprenticed to an architect in Dorchester and remained in that profession, later in London and then again in Dorchester, for almost twenty years.

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Most of his novels are based on his hometown Dorset and Dorchester areas as the background. His hometown is a far away from industrial civilization, maintaining the traditional patriarchal village, surrounded by leafy woodland and heather moors. Due to his deep attachment to nature, Hardy often with his father goes into the wilderness, holding a special feeling for nature, namely, sense of beauty, mystery, fear and poetry. Hardy’s family has a favorite musical tradition. Hardy’s grandfather was a cellist in the church; Hardy’s father and uncle are also members of the music team. Under the guidance of his father, Hardy began learning to play the violin, cultivating an extraordinary music savvy for him. This is reason that Hardy’s works have a strong aesthetic attitude. Born in a farm family, Hardy’s mother was well-educated, had a higher appreciation of literature, and often told stories to him. These feelings have permeated all of Hardy later creation, and underlay a major feature of his creation. His family education, upbringing circumstance and his own experience formed his countryside complex.

Hardy’s development of thought has gone through a responsible process: from belief in God to abandon; at the very beginning he was influenced by the Darwinian theory of evolution and Spencer’s Social Darwinism, and later by Arthur Schopenhauer’s theory of the internal willpower, and finally formed his own theory of evolution and social good deeds of goodness. Hardy was in British alternative period of industrialization and commercialization, when tranquil and idyllic countryside was suffering from continuous destruction. Emotionally Hardy can not understand this, let alone accept it; but intellectually, he realizes that it was the inevitability of social development. Hardy applied romantic nostalgia strokes to depict an infinite natural beauty of countryside, resulting in a melancholy sadness Hardy-style literature. The friction between sense and sensibility resulted in Hardy-style fatalism-pessimistic fatalism. The melancholy atmosphere of tragic fate hangs over Hardy’s novels, and with its rich sense of historical responsibility hardy inventively shows the erosion of the old patriarchal rural areas by Western modern industrial civilization in Britain represented by “Wessex” in his novels and the tragic fate of the peasant class in the process of social development. Objectively he attacked and criticized ruthlessly the ugly and evil society, but subjectively, Hardy felt depressed and confused with the alien force of modern civilization. Therefore, his philosophy failed in explaining the tragedy of the protagonists in his novels , like the ancient Greek tragedian can not figure out a solution for the mystery of life, he imagined that there is a majestic power in the world, thus formed his famous pessimistic fatalism.

1.2 summary of the return of the native

Traditional description of the Western landscape is about idyllic environment, respecting the natural beauty or sometimes sentimental charm, but, in general, the tone is relaxed and lively, fulls of romantic and melancholy colors, this scene description of anti-traditional literary throw a strong contrast between countryside and urban area.

In writing most of his novels, Hardy worked out the details of time and geography he wanted to use with great care. Almost every novel is, therefore, located in a specific, mapped-out area of Wessex and covers a specified period of time. The Return of the Native covers the period 1842-43 and is set on Puddletown Heath (called Egdon Heath in the novel), on which Upper Bockhampton is situated. This novel also reveals a side of Hardy’s authorship for which he has been taken to task by critics. In response to requests from readers of the novel in serial form, he added a sixth book to the original five to give his story a happier ending. He says in a note to the novel that the reader can choose which of the two endings he prefers but that the rigorous reader will probably favor the original conception.

Hardy classified the return to the native as a novel of character and environment. Albert Guerard calls it a tragedy of cross purpose, which is universal and vast. Here we have the brooding heath, less concerned over human beings caught in its spell than human beings are concerned over the plight of ants in an ant hill on its wild surface. Here we have characters, themselves strong personalities, playing upon each other and played upon by this imperturbable environment. Hardy believed literally in the power of imagination over the body and in the magnetic, compelling power of strong mind over the weak. In the return to the native the heath is the ultimate strong mind.

1.3 Introduction of British industry revolution

The British Industrial Revolution was a period from the 16th to the 18th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of the times. The British Industrial Revolution fueled the fire of the world Industrial Revolution, from the United Kingdom subsequently to Europe, North America, and eventually the world.

The British Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in British human history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. Most notably, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the two centuries following 1800, the world’s average per capita income increased over 10-fold, while the world’s population increased over 6-fold. In the words of Nobel Prize winner Robert E. Lucas, Jr.: “For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth. … Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before.”

Industrialization led to the creation of the factory which largely located in city. The factories needed workers who were mainly from countryside. To attract the workers, the city provided more facilities than countryside, such as convenient transportation, heating, better education. Therefore, it was the factory system that was largely responsible for the rise of the modern city, absorbing large numbers of workers migrated into the cities in search of employment in the factories.

Chapter 2 capitalism conflicts mirrored in the Return of the Native

2.1 rural-urban conflicts

2.1.1 The countryside in the eye of writers and English people

Countryside, the access to nature, is the paradise of large number of writers who hold hatred to city and yearn for nature at heart. Against the smoky backdrop of begrimed cities, Romantic and Transcendentalist writers criticize industrialization as an unhealthy divergence from nature. These writers describe both the cities and nature with vivid images. By idealizing nature, authors like William Wordsworth and Henry David Thoreau show a contrast to the cruelties of city-life. In his more direct criticisms, William Blake focuses on specific images, usually describing the absence of nature. Throughout their works, these writers form a cohesive protest to the smoke and the poverty of the industrial revolution using descriptions of nature to elaborate their criticisms.

As a Romantic, William Wordsworth seeks truth about society in nature. To him, nature is the perfect teacher of the truest knowledge. His poems reflect this belief by idealizing nature in figurative language. He declares nature’s calming effects in “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802” when he personifies the sleeping city. To Wordsworth, “the beauty of the morning” seems to clothe the city “like a garment” (1). He uses this simile to underscore the purity of nature and its positive effects on the city. He leaves the city in surreal inaction, however, to suggest that when the sun rises above its “first splendour,” the city will awaken, the air will no longer be “smokeless,” and nature will retreat to the countryside. Wordsworth equates nature with peace and openly worries that humankind will lose nature’s gifts. In “The World is Too Much with Us,” Wordsworth echoes this concern: “Little we see in Nature that is ours;/ We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” This “sordid boon,” or filthy gift, separates humankind from nature. In that poem, Wordsworth clearly states that humankind “lay[s] waste” to its own powers by buying and selling nature, something not rightfully owned by any one. His most powerful metaphor says simply, “we are out of tune.” Wordsworth paints a distinct image of the city with nature and society without. He implies that the people have consciously rejected and abused nature but verifies that if society embraces nature, it could achieve the peace he sees while on Westminster Bridge. While Wordsworth describes nature in this shining poetry and vivid imagery, William Blake describes city scenes with a keen eye for the absence of nature. (1)

As an American, Washington Irving, by his personal travelling to English countryside and own life experience in rural area, wrote Rural Life in England which depicted objectively the English’s special feelings to countryside. “The English, in fact, are strongly gifted with the rural feeling. They possess a quick sensibility to the beauties of nature, and a keen relish for the pleasures and employments of the country.” [1] The ardently love and attachment of Englishmen for rural life and rural scene forged their characteristics and influenced their outlook to the world. “In England, on the contrary, the metropolis is a mere gathering-place, or general rendezvous, of the polite classes, where they devote a small portion of the year to a hurry of gayety and dissipation, and, having indulged this kind of carnival, return again to the apparently more congenial habits of rural life. The various orders of society are therefore diffused over the whole surface of the kingdom, and the more retired neighborhoods afford specimens of the different ranks.” [2] By comparison between rural life and urban life of England, Irving represented how the natural emotion of Englishmen unveiled thoroughly, namely, unbounded、informal、feel at home and checkless. In rural area, therefore, Englishmen can get the real upper class joy of reading、music、hunting so and so forth. Living cottages, hamlets or villas of villages near by castles; feeding the livestock in farm-houses; wandering through parks and gardens after super; walking along hedges and green lanes; going to country churches on Sunday; attending wakes and fairs, and other rural festivals; and coping with the people in all their conditions, and all their habits and humors-all of these are their life content. That is the life Englishmen and writers cherished. That’s because rural life reflecting the harmony between man and nature, and man and man. living in countryside is the best way to get rid of the noisy、polluted、fickle and cold metropolis, to breathe the fresh air, to feel the untouched and unpolluted green world, and to keep an tranquil inner. And all of these are such nature.

2.1.2 The erosion of countryside imposed by industrialism



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At Hardy’s time,

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2.2 Main conflicts between rural-urban areas

2.2.1 Differences in income, living conditions, education etc.

2.2.2 Attraction of urban area to Urbanian

2.2.3 Attraction of rural area to village people

2.2.4 The conflict of Urbanian leaving city and village people leaving countryside

Chapter 3 Two Protagonists’ characteristics mirror rural-urban conflict

3.1 The Comparative characteristics analysis of Eustacia and Clym, and the reasons

3.1.1 The Characteristics of Eustacia and its reason

3.1.2 The characteristics of Clym and its reason

3.2 Conflicts between Two Protagonists’ characteristics mirror rural-urban conflict

3.2.1 Eustacia: envying to city life

3.2.2 Clym: longing for rural life grows up in city





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