Thomas Hardy: As Homilist on Change and on the Folk Passing in Wessex

David Cornelius


Thomas Hardy in the west of England in the later nineteenth century—like Henry Lawson in New South Wales at about the same time— wrote powerfully and passionately—to create a haunting image of his own ‘country’, its people’s lot, its harshness and the destructive changes to life away from the great metropolitan centre. He made his powerful distinction between the landowners and the labouring poor, as he told of the tragedies of ‘class’, and—indirectly—of the ambiguities so created/ experienced for his own life.

Equally crucial was the loss of identity-enforcing regional customs and value, his concern for individuality under threat, the ‘marriage’ choicemobility’ issue, rural stoicism in impoverishment, the traditional role of music in the life of ‘Hodge’ the countryman, the (earlier) fears of invasion, and the consistent and total disregard for a woman’s feelings especially by her father. Above all, he succeeded in educating his urban readers as to the nature of his/their country folk.


Thomas Hardy; Wessex;

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