Thomas Hardy Stories Essay

2311 words - 10 pages

Thomas Hardy Stories

The three Thomas Hardy short stories I am writing about are:
• The History of The Hardcomes
• The Melancholy Hussar
• The Winters and The Palmleys

In the short stories written by Thomas Hardy the historical and social context is defined and similar in each story. The short stories are set in the 19th century at a time where society was primarily male dominated, capital punishment was sentenced for minor crimes and the only real means of transportation were horse and wagon. During the 1800’s there were high expectations for love. Marriages were predominantly monogamous and were expected to last a lifetime, divorces were almost forbidden.

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An example of this is when Stephen and James Hardcome make the decision; note the male decision relating to male dominance at the time, to exchange partners. This is a fateful decision made at their own wedding, seems almost an unrealistic decision, but is still gone forth with. A reason both partners may have wished to switch partners and lovers were because of a desire of an opposite lifestyle. James and Emily were originally very gentle, nice and very in-door people whereas Stephen and Olive were loud, outdoor people who liked to see what was going on in the world. The partners may wish to of switched to have a taste of the opposites life, perhaps relating to the saying the opposites attract. However was this exchanging of partners a true, lifelong love or was it just a moment of excitement that would not last a lifetime. An extract from the story describes this: “all having been done under the hot excitement of that evening’s dancing”. After one or two years of their marriages a sense of regret and ‘what if?’ is felt about the exchanging of partners. James and Stephen begin to see their wives as very different and see a gap between them and their wives. This suggest that their choice of lovers that one night may have been the wrong choice and that they were not with their ‘true lovers’, but in the 18th centaury, marriage was a life long commitment that could not be broken, divorces were un heard of. Further into the story the couples go on their annual yearly holiday together. Here they begin to see each other’s original partners and begin to speculate their previous exchanging of partners. Steve and Olive decide to take a boat out into the shore, this showing the restless, outgoing side of the two couples, and Stephen and Emily, who were not fond of the water and far less spontaneous, decided to stay inland. Inland, Stephen and Emily begin to converse about how James and Olive are distinguishably similar, enjoying the rowing together. After many hours Stephen and Emily notice that their husband and wife had been gone for a very long time. News soon came to them that James and Olive had been found dead, washed up in the shore. “It was said that they had been found tightly locked in each other’s arms, his lips upon hers, their features still wrapt in the same calm and dream-like repose which had been observed in their demeanour as they glided along”, this is an extract from the story, showing perhaps how Stephen and Olives love and been reunited in death, this making their love unromantic from previously when it was romantic. James and Emily do not expect the two of deceitfulness, however the deaths are a mystery. James and Emily then decide to marry after the funereal of their previous partners. This marriage that happens is one that is ordained by nature and their love is bought together by destiny and fate. This new love between James and Emily could be seen as an unhappy love because they are grieving for their...

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