In Hardy’s stories the characters are defined through their environment.
Most of his stories are settle in a semi-fictional region, the south-west corner of England: in the preface of his novel Far from the Madding Crowd, he called this area Wessex.
Hardy’s works are full of details of ruins of churches, towers, walls but we can also find some description of very important monuments, as Stonehenge and the Oxford college.
Throughout his works Hardy develops two main themes:
the difficulty of being alive, because it involves being in a place and in an environment, surrounded by a set of circumstances which modify the individual existence.
the Nature, which can be considered as a co-protagonist and it is indifferent to man’s destiny.
Hardy exposes the most moralistic and hypocritical aspects of the Victorian society.
Another central theme is the lack or failure of communication between the characters, which always leads to tragedy.
Hardy’s love for the Nature is reflected in the large use of metaphor and personification. The sense of sight is particularly strong: the characters watch each other and they are watched by the Nature.
Also the use of colour is important: it is linked to emotion and experience, and it is especially connected with the landscape.
Hardy employed the Victorian omniscient narrator, who is always present and sometimes he introduces his opinions and his view of life.
Hardy sometimes presents the actions through the eye of an external observer and the reader has to identify himself.
He even anticipate the cinema in is use of the narrative techniques similar to the camera eye and the zoom.