College of Arts and Sciences
Primary Subject Area
Pessimism, Fatalism, Anglicanism, Marriage, Nature, Thomas Hardy, Biography
Mays, Christine, "The Doomed Union: Thomas Hardy's Pessimism Toward Marriage, Anglicanism, and Society" (2012). Senior Honors Theses. 320.
The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate Thomas Hardy’s pessimism by examining his life and to display how three of his novels, Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure reflect actual events, relationships, and social issues in Hardy’s life. Hardy’s fatalism began to manifest itself in his early childhood, as he was the result of an unplanned pregnancy, and then later in his youth, when his family could not afford to fund a full education. As he grew into adulthood, Hardy began to feel acutely the line drawn between him and those of a higher class. His despairing relationships with two women, his cousin Tryphena Sparks and his first wife Emma Lavinia Gifford, were the inspiration for the futile plotlines of these three novels. Because of the harsh society in which he lived, his lack of money, two unhappy relationships, and the failure of his last two novels to be accepted by his readers, Thomas Hardy emerged as a pessimistic novelist and poet of the nineteenth century.