Thomas Hardy’s Life and work

Thomas Hardy is a name that leaves a lasting impression, among the litterateurs and poets of the modern period and more particularly, the span of the threshold of Modernism.

In prose and poetry, Hardy has managed to achieve the status of a mature artist. It is not surprising that a lot of his works hinted at the complications in his personal life because they were innumerable. Most of his novellas had a didactic tone and his prose works were largely responsible for all the recognition at the time. However, he preferred poetry for the articulation of his experiences. After realizing that his poetry was not being received very well, Hardy unwillingly turned towards prose; but in his later years, he produced poetic works of notable significance.

The imagery of rural life was an imperative tool for Hardy using which he fabricated remarkable tales. The subjects that he touched upon were very diverse; he has created bold women characters like Bathsheba Everdene and Eustacia Vye in Far from the Madding Crowd(1874) & The Return of the Native(1878) respectively, based on The Mayor of Casterbridge(1886) on socioeconomic issues and questioned certain societal principles through Tess of the d’Urbervilles(1891). Bathsheba Everdene is a historical character owing to the stereotype she shatters; Hardy empowers her to deal with three lovers simultaneously, an idea that was preposterous for the time. Eustacia, a woman seemingly constrained by marriage vows, pursues an extramarital affair.

Later in his life, Hardy produced fine poetry and most of his poems were inspired by the long-lost love for his wife Emma Gifford, which he, unfortunately, was able to retrieve only after her death. One such work is ‘After a Journey’, through which he has expressed his lamentation and longing caused by a rather delayed realization. He’s presented his deceased lover in the form of a ghost. He walks down the memory lane or perhaps actually visits the locations where he courted her, to reminisce everything and resuscitate the past events. As he visits the Cornish hills, he feels as if she’s moving around like a flailing ghost. The poem incorporates pleasing imagery of the spot and very skilfully, Hardy shows this along with an interrogation that he pursues with the ghost.
                “What have you now found to say of our past—
                Viewed across the dark space wherein I have lacked you?”

                “I come to interview a voiceless ghost;
                Whither, O whither will its whim now draw me”

Despite the depth in his works and his ability to express himself so eloquently, Thomas Hardy is known to have a really coy personality. As he could not be reunited with Emma when he lived, his heart now lies with her at Stinsford in the same grave while his body is entombed at Poet’s Corner.

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Written By: Ashmita Khandelwal

Editor and Team Lead: Ashutosh Sharma

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About The Author(s)

Chemistry major with self-proclaimed good taste in Books and Music.

Ashmita Khandelwal
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