THOMAS HARDYhe was born of humble parents. He loves music and dancing. He also read the works of Comte, Mill, Darwin, Schopenhuer which helped shape his though. His most important novels are:
• “Far from the madding crowd”
• “Tess of D’Ubervilles” 1891
Hardy decided to give up fiction and to turn to his first love, poetry with the publication of ”Wessex Poems” in 1898 and his verse epic of the Napoleonic Wars, “The Dynasts”. His first wife died in 1912; he married again in 1914. He died in 1928, much honoured. His body was interred in Westminster Abbey.
Hardy’s deterministic view: his considerations about life, death and man express a deterministic view; men can’t do anything to change hi destiny, that is dominated by an indifferent fate. He was influenced by classical and contemporary author; in fact in Greek tragedy there was the notion of cruel Gods, indifferent Nature and hostile Fate.
After the reading of Darwin’s theory about the Origin of Species he denies the existence of God. He could see no intelligent direction of the universe, only the control of “insensible chance” over everything. However he feels the importance of altruism through cooperation and loving kindness, and the application of scientific knowledge. He read the Bible and use a lot of examples from it.
Hardy’s Wessex:He sets his stories in a small area in the south-west corner of England called Wessex during the old Saxon kingdom. Hardy has a superb sense of place and he knows very well the country traditions. The rustic group in a Hardy novel often performs in a way similar to that of the chorus in Greek tragedy; the comments on action of the central characters.
Main themes and characterization:
*NATURE: indifferent, growth decay regeneration (cycle of seasons). The nature is
co-protagonist with the characters.
*EXPOSURE OF VICTORIAN SOCIETY denunciation
*RELIGION: he didn’t believe that christian religion could help person to find their personality
*Difficulty of COMUNICATION
*THE HOBBLE OF BEING ALIVEthe difficulty of being alive, the suffering of the man.
Hardy’s language and imagery: He uses a realistic language but also symbolic, full of details. He uses similies, metaphors and personifications. The sense of sight is particularly strong colour linked to emotions. He says that “A novel is an impression, not an argument” and it underline the influence of the Imperessionists.
Structure and narrative technique: Characters are presented through their experiences and reaction to events. He used an omniscient obstrusive narrator; in his description of scenes in a first time he describes the country side and he gradually pay attention to the characters cinematic techniques (camera eye and zoom).
TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLESThe novel is set in the country of Dorset, in the south of England, that Hardy calls Wessex. Et the beginning of the novel Tess’s father find out he is a descendant of a rich and aristocratic family, the D’Urbervilles. His family has already fallen on hard times and the situation gets worse when their horse dies. Tess is convinced to start working as a poultry maid on the D’Urbervilles estate. She is seduced by her master, Alec, and finds herself pregnant. She come back to her village and gives birth to a baby boy who dies soon after. She lives her father’s house and goes to a distant valley to work as a milk maid in a farm. There she meets Angel, a clergyman’s son who is interested in a new farming methods. They fall in love and they get married. But when Tess tells Angel about her past he leaves her and goes to Brazil. Tess undergoes suffering and hardships and accepts to became Alec’s mistress. Angel comes back, find her, they kills Alec and flees together. She is captured at Stonehenge while is sleeping and he is executed.
Setting: the novel is set in Wessex, therefore the setting is partly real and partly symbolical. One of the main themes is the destruction of the english peasantry due to the extension of capitalist farming. The old rhythms of country life that he described in “Far from madding crowd” were being destroyed by mechanization.
The heroine: Hardy presented Tess as a victim insisting on her natural goodness. She embodies the qualitiesof affection and trust, the powers of suffering and survival, beauty, innocence and vulnerability. Not only society but also chance conspire against Tess.
At the beginning the novel wasn’t so well received by the public because it was considered as a scandal.