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Women in Hardy's Novels: Far From What Might be Expected!

by A. A. Abrahami (writer), Los Angeles, March 03, 2007

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I’m in love with Thomas Hardy’s painstakingly thorough understanding of the lower-class Victorian femme. First, to explain why, I’ll compare him to one of my least favorite authors: Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway’s prose lacks substance due to his inability to describe emotions…at all. In general, his style is minimal and straightforward. Moreover, it’s plain. The bulk of his text is characterized by simple sentences and few adverbs or adjectives. His approach to dialogue is concise and fairly vivid, as he was principally skilled in describing places, actions, etc. Overall, his writing is dispassionate, detached, and indifferent.

EX: “The crowd was the boys, the dancers, and the drunks. Romero turned and tried to get through the crowd. They were all around him trying to lift him and put him on their shoulders. He fought and twisted away, and started running, in the midst of them, toward the exit. He did not want to be carried on people’s shoulders. But they held him and lifted him. It was uncomfortable and his legs were spraddled and his body was very sore. They were lifting him and all running toward the gate. He had his hand on somebody’s shoulder. He looked around at us apologetically. The crowd, running, went out the gate with him.”

This is NOT good writing! Utterly void of a warmth and affection for his subjects, he’s a not much more than simple read for the cold heart and apathetic mind.

Getting back to Hardy, who, in many ways, is the anti-Hemingway: a literary devotee to society’s human waste, a rebel against the unfair treatment of the unfairly mistreated, his radical fight for the underdog—the heroine—places the sexually domineering villain under warranted severe ethical scrutiny. He exposes corruption. He criticizes the culprit, as well as the ignorant environment which permits his survival. His palpable wrath against rape, double standards, and manipulation is harmoniously rationalized by compassion and empathy. You genuinely feel his words as they are read off the page.

EX: “Under the trees several pheasants lay about, their rich plumage dabbled with blood; some were dead, some feebly twitching a wing, some staring up at the sky, some pulsating quickly, some contorted, some stretched out—all of them writhing in agony except the fortunate ones whose tortures had ended during the night by the inability of nature to bear more. With the impulse of a soul who could feel for kindred sufferers as much as for herself, Tess’s first thought was to put the still living birds out of their torture, and to this end with her own hands she broke the necks of as many as she could find, leaving them to lie where she had found them till the gamekeepers should come, as they probably would come, to look for them a second time. “Poor darlings—to suppose myself the most miserable being on earth in the sight o’ such misery as yours!” she exclaimed, her tears running down as she killed the birds tenderly.”

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend you read Tess of the D'Urbervilles


About the Writer

A. A. Abrahami is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Women in Hardy's Novels: Far From What Might be Expected!

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By Steven Lane on March 04, 2007 at 12:59 am
It was a silent movie in 1912, an MGM film in 1924, Polanski took a crack at it as Tess, and A@E did it in 1998,..... I think.
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Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Steven Lane on March 05, 2007 at 01:03 am
You go Bill!
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