Hardy's Pessimism

In: English and Literature

Submitted By MaryGrant
Words 811
Pages 4
Pessimism is defined as having a negative, cynical view on one’s life and surroundings and is demonstrated frequently in Thomas Hardy’s poetry. He shows a fixation with the past in his work and expresses regrets about several failed romances in his life, most notably with his first wife, Emma and these become a recurring theme in his poetry. He romanticises the past, both on a personal level and when considering wider society.
I partly agree with the statement because he seems to view life as a ceaseless struggle. For example in ‘A Wish For Unconsciousness’ he describes life as being a “cross [burden] to bear” and muses “If I could but abide, as a tablet on a wall”, which proves he has a pessimistic view of life because he occasionally expresses a wish for it to end. This is made more melancholy by the fact Hardy did not believe in God so struggled to believe in heaven. In ‘Hap’, he discusses with himself the cause of the suffering in the world and concludes that “crass casualty obstructs the sun and rain”, that it is fate, not God, that controls our lives. He demonstrates a slightly depressing view of the dead in his poem ‘Friends Beyond’ when he claims they have “no wish to hear the tidings, how the people’s fortunes shift”. In his short composition ‘Christmas 1924’, he expresses a cynical view of the uselessness of religion “after two thousand years of mass, we’ve got as far as poison-gas” .
Hardy’s poetry often comments on human nature and society. He idealises his idea of the traditional rural lifestyle in the region of England he calls ‘Wessex’, which was his home, and rejects urbanisation and modernisation. In ‘The Darkling Thrush’, the bird sings for “some blessed hope, whereof he knew” at the coming of the new century but Hardy “was unaware”. In the poem, the thrush represents society and the voice represents Hardy as being separate from them. In…...

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