A selective study of the nature and content of Thomas Hardy's poetry

Spencer, Lloyd Kendell (1974) A selective study of the nature and content of Thomas Hardy's poetry. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

My main purpose in this thesis is to present a selection of Thomas Hardy's poetry which seems to represent his personal philosophy, "evolutionary meliorism". While other aspects of his poetry have seldom been central to the discussions, neither his achievements as a stylist nor his position as a poetic technician have been neglected entirely. -- The line on which my attention has constantly focused and to which the poems I have chosen all relate, was chosen from Hardy's poem "In Tenebris" II (1895-96). It reads: "... if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst," and is perhaps the clearest and most concise expression of his poetic intentions and indeed his stated philosophy of life. No other line from his writings so thoroughly epitomizes the poet's tragic view together with his hope, however forlorn, for man's eventual ennoblement. Furthermore it represents his special type of realism, his grim honest confrontation with man's disagreeable position. -- I believe all Hardy's poems are reflections of his feelings and beliefs. However, I feel that the satires, the war poems and those dealing specifically with philosophy or religion best elucidate his antinomial view of the universe with their dual concentration on the "Better" and the "Worst". -- Chapter I deals with the origins and meaning of "evolutionary meliorism", but, some semblance of of balance is attempted by references to various charges of pessimism. Chapters II, III and IV are really a unit in themselves, a sort of progression forming the main body of the thesis. The order is important because one finds a gradually intensifying approach towards the realities of existence. For example, in the poems discussed in Chapter II one finds a blend of irony and humor as the author chooses a satirical approach to certain social problems. In Chapter III there is no ironic humor for the subject is war. The poetry of Chapter IV is grim indeed with its almost total concentration on the "Worst" - the grave possibility that no God exists. -- Whereas in Chapter I, poems from Hardy's first volume are considered, so in Chapter V poems from his last-published Winter Words are discussed, thus attempting coherency and unity. It is here that we have his final word. Despite the sparks of hope observed earlier in the thesis, in the final analysis the poet's view is tinged with a sense of tragedy. The positive images, the meliorism and the hope cannot be denied, but the grey shades and the darker tones cause Hardy's poetic gift to the ages to be in harmony with the tragic view in the Greek sense.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8000
Item ID: 8000
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [160]-165.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1974
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Hardy, Thomas, 1840-1928

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