Must read novels by Thomas Hardy

‘The more I see of life, the more I perceive that there is nothing particularly great in its greatest walks’ – Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.

Thomas Hardy is perhaps one of the most important names among Victorian fiction writers. He is famous for his challenging representation of Victorian morality and the gender complications. His fictions were concerned about the oppressive social conventions at that time.Because of these aspects Hardy faced huge criticisms from contemporary society. Here we must have a look of some of his best creations –

Tess of The D’Urbervilles (1891)

It was regarded as his masterpiece by many critics, though it faced much criticism at the time of publication as this book dealt with the ideas of Victorian sexual morality. The protagonist, Tess, was an innocent young girl until she stepped out for some work to one of her distant cousin’s houses at The Chase. From then the turmoil begins in her life as she was sexually assaulted by her cousin Alec Durbeyfield and became pregnant. It’s difficult to judge whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate for her that her child died soon after birth. That particular phase will always make her suffer throughout her life. Her married relationship with Angle Clare won’t survive because of that incident. Finally, after so many years of suffering, she will take revenge by murdering Alec. To know the consequences, you need to read the novel.

Jude The Obscure (1895)

After the publication of this novel, Hardy faced so much criticism that he stopped writing novels forever. Jude, the protagonist of this novel had the willingness to study at the Christminster University but, because of poverty and class discrimination, he was forced to work as a stonemason. His marriage was utterly unsuccessful with Arabella, then he cherished his feelings for his cousin Sue Bridehead. Sue, a rebel of Victorian society, decided not to marry him and here begins the struggle of their lives, as they violated Victorian morality. Sue was concerned more about genuine feelings than the social institutions like marriage and religion. This decision made them and their children suffer throughout their life. The change which we observe in Sue’s character after the death of their children seems like she has finally surrendered herself in front of the strict Victorian conventions. Out of punishment fantasy, she leaves Jude and throws herself into the bed of Phillotson, her first husband. Jude returned to Arabella and died a few days later.

It doesn’t matter whether these two novels received so many hard comments, the tragedy of love between the characters will always be heart-aching for the readers.

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