Thomas Hardy, great critical realist writer of the 19th century, gives unprecedented concerns for female characters in his novels. His first masterpiece Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native that marks his maturity in writing or the most renowned Tess of the D’Urbervilles all revolve around the meandering fate of female characters. Moreover, female roles presented in his work possess distinct temperament and strong rebellious consciousness against conventionality.
Taking three masterpieces mentioned above as object of research and textual close reading as method, this thesis dwells on the unswerving pursuits of three heroines for dreams and ultimate disillusionment. Firstly, the paper illustrates inexorable hankering of Eustacia, Tess, Bathsheba for Paris, true love and independence respectively, retrospects twists and turns in their craving courses from origin to ruin with specific examples. From disposition flaws of characters, fusty religion, class bias and traditional values in the Victorian era and the intervene of Hardy’s own concepts, it then introspects the represses women saddle on their path to self-realization and pinpoints reasons for their miseries so as to provide references for studies on female characters in Hardy’s works.
Key words: Eustacia; Tess; Bathsheba; conventionality
- Introduction 1
- Literature Review 3
- Domestic research on Thomas Hardy 3
- Overseas research on Thomas Hardy 4
- Faces Launching a Thousand Ships 5
- Eustacia: decency 6
- Tess: true love 7
- Bathsheba: independence 9
- Compromises to Conventionalities 11
- Conventionalities of social rank 11
- Conventionalities of love 12
- Conventionalities of marriage 13
- Conclusion 15
Faces Launching a Thousand Ships in Hardy’s Works
Thomas Hardy is exalted as one of the most prestigious novelists at the end of the 19th century. Bombarded with epochal changes in the Victorian era, Hardy’s novels are also brimmed with transitional characteristics, which endow his masterpieces ever-lasting charm. Different from male-dominated novels prevailing at that time, Hardy takes up the gauntlet and places his spotlights on the clash between feminine unremitting pursuit and their tragedy-destined fates. Moreover, rather than chaste and obedient images, female characters he molded swell with rebellious spirit and strive to shrug off shackles of conventional demands on a fair lady. Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native and Tess of the D’Urbervilles are three crucial novels of Hardy and dispositions of which have distinctive traits. Probing into the persistent pursuit of Eustacia, Tess and Bathsheba for Paris, true love and independence respectively is conducive to fathom women’s needs and desires more comprehensively. Meanwhile, their ultimate disillusionment that tallies with Hardy’s consistent style contributes to explore his tragedy consciousness and contradictions in his thinking. It also provides readers with a bird’s-eye view on British invidious social environment and entrenches prejudices towards women.
This paper aims to address the following questions: What are the unique ultimate ambitions of the three well-known heroines created by Hardy: Eustacia in The Return of the Native, Tess in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Bathsheba in Far from the Madding Crowd? How do these three ladies pursue for their own supreme aspiration? What kind of result do they procure? Why do their chases all end up in a tragedy? In other words, what are the lurking reasons spell the reverse of their initial objective? How does the disillusionment of their pursuits embody Hardy’s pessimism?
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