Analysis of the Era Characteristics of Thomas Hardy’s Works–based on The Return of the Native 对托马斯哈代作品的时代特征分析–基于《还乡》毕业论文
Thomas Hardy was one of the most important figures during the Victorian Age as a poet and novelist. His life was full of ups and downs. The influence of this special age and the change of living background had deeply affected his thoughts, the characteristics of which had been fully presented in his works. Since his own age, the study about Hardy’s work was mainly the analysis of woman features and tragic theme, with the public attention focused largely on his most famous work Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Hardy’s career as a writer was not smooth at all. During the Victorian Age, he began his career as an architect then as a novelist. His works changed from the description of countryside to the revealing and criticism of reality. Apart from his personal factors, the age had contributed to such change. The Return of the Native was the first masterpiece of “character and environment” genre as the symbol of Hardy’s turning to tragedy writing. This article analyzes this work in terms of background and characters and discusses how Hardy represented the reality and characteristics of that time in the novel. Through the study of his work, this paper combines the times background with Hardy’s writing experience and his work so as to display an explicit inter-relationship between these three elements based on The Return of the Native.
Key Words: Thomas Hardy; the Victorian Age; The Return of the Native; era characteristics
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Literature Background 1
1.2 The organization and methodology 2
2 The Distinctive Victorian Age 4
2.1 Intrusion of the Industrial Civilization 4
2.2 Turmoil of Religious Belief 5
2.3 Prevalence of Capitalism 6
3 Thomas Hardy’s Career As A Writer 7
3.1 Hardy’s Early Enlightenment 7
3.2 The Exploration as a New Writer 8
3.3 The Struggling and Choice In Face of Reality 9
4 Characteristics in The Return of the Native 11
4.1 The Unmerciful Setting of Egdon Heath 11
4.2 The Overall Pessimistic Fatalism 13
5 Conclusion 16
Analysis of Era Characteristics of Thomas Hardy’s Works–based on The Return of the Native
Thomas Hardy was one of the most famous figures during the Victorian Age. His whole life crossed two different ages, which could be the root of distinctive time characteristics in his works. He started his career as an architect at first but he dreamed to be a writer. Due to an occasional chance he got his name known by an editor and since then he gradually dedicated himself to writing. In his preliminary stage Hardy concentrated on the description of village view. However, the society was undergoing great changes thus his thoughts suffered an impact. On the one hand, he tried to stick to his own belief by writing about kindness and truth in his novels. On the other hand, he had to undergo the shock of a new age in his mind. During the struggling between contradictory ideas and lifestyle, he attempted to find a way out. His novels were not only about the beautiful view or harmonious life in village; instead, there were signs of tragic features in his works. With the gradual maturity of thought, Hardy began to reflect the true face of real life in his own works. The Return of the Native is an important work in the transformation of Hardy’s writing style. In this novel, Hardy still depicted the tranquility of pastoral life, but through the fate of the protagonists, he showed how the patriarchal countryside was influenced by industrial civilization and capitalism. This idea was closely related to his own time.
1.1 Literature Background
For Hardy’s greatness and his huge influence on both literacy and other famous writers such as D.H Lawrence, John Cowper Powys and so on, the study of Hardy himself and his works has always been the concentration for various scholars. During his time, there appeared numerous books and articles about Hardy’s life and works. Hardy’s wife published The Life of Thomas Hardy 1840-1928, which was regarded as the official biography of Hardy. Other scholars were still eager to get more details about Hardy. Douglas Brown (1954) in his book Thomas Hardy made a clear presentation of Hardy’s life and works. He stated that there was a common model in Hardy’s fictions: the protagonists, usually being strong and tough from village, would fall in love with someone outside village. Zhang Chengping (2012) compared two novels of Hardy and concluded that character’s self-judgment and narrator’s judgment influence the characters’ lives directly. Kashavarz and Ghasemi (2012) studied one major theme—marriage– in this novel. They pointed out that in this novel marriage becomes a means through which social mobility, individual ambitions, class distinctions, family relations, social conventions, and some other concepts are portrayed. Rachel Worth (2013) represented how social and economic changes helped account for the disappearance of traditional features of rural dress. Naveen K Mehta (2013) made a closer analysis of the heroine Eustacia in The Return of the Native. He stated that Eustacia was the most impressive heroine among Hardy’s heroines. The weaknesses of her character and her opposition to her environment were due to forces beyond her control.
Not only do foreign litterateurs have great admiration for Hardy, but also domestic scholars and learners try to get more close to him through the study of his works. Wang Bo and Wu Qiong (2009) considered Thomas Hardy as a keen observer of nature and people. Qu Nini (2012) mentioned in analyzing the tragic description of The Return of the Native that the tragedy of the works reflects the tragedy of real life in the Hardy era. Li Nana (2014) believes that the theme of Hardy’s works has something in common—pessimism, which is closely related to the social and cultural ethos of the late 19th century. Lv Can (2015) also expressed the same view. He linked the social status of Victoria in the middle of the period to the theme of Hardy’s work, and believed that its tragic roots were influenced by his own living environment. Wang Xinfang (2017) interprets the female images in Hardy’s works. She deemed that through female characters Hardy showed the status of women at that time in society and marriage. Luo Yuan (2018) made a deeper analysis of Hardy’s view of women and nature in The Return of the Native, and explored how Hardy presented women, nature and the relationship between the two.