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Literary analysis of 'The Going' by Thomas Hardy

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Introduction

Q: How does Hardy tell the story in 'The Going'? 'The Going' is a poem mourning the death and loss of Hardy's wife Emma. The themes of anguish, love and regret are echoes throughout the poem however it is unusual and interesting to note that it seems that Hardy is blaming Emma for leaving him and over-romanticizing the time they spent together. The title 'The Going' gives the air that Emma's death was a grand sort of departure. A reader with no knowledge of Hardy's life would perhaps feel that Hardy loved and took much care of his wife throughout his life and her departure was 'grand' in that way, however this is not the case. The circumstances Emma died in illustrated a harsh husband who did not come to his wife's deathbed when the maid told him Emma was very ill - Hardy's grievous poem makes the circumstances are very ironic. In the second stanza, Hardy also refers to Emma's death as the 'great going', which is once again giving the idea that Emma's death was grand; like a Queen leaving. ...read more.

Middle

A sense of arrogance and self-righteousness is eluded from his desire to shift the blame away from him - this may make the speaker seem unlikeable. There is a sensual tone in the poem which works to romanticize the mood of the poem and suggest the happy past the couple had in the beginning of their relationship and the happy life they could have had but didn't. Hardy asks Emma why she did not 'lip me the softest call' - this is a reference to physical intimacy and could be a kiss or to whispering 'sweet-nothings'. From that suggestion, it would seem like Hardy was always expectant for such intimacy however this was not the case as the couple were not physically intimate for most of their relationship. There are echoes of their courting days in their youth in the fourth stanza where Hardy describes a younger Emma in flattering and loving terms as the 'swan-necked one' who would 'muse and eye (him)'. The idea of Emma 'eyeing' Hardy suggests a shy and playful Emma sneaking glances at Hardy which evokes empathy in the readers heart for not only Emma but the combined couple of Emma and Hardy during their courtship. ...read more.

Conclusion

Using a device such as alliteration is deliberate and therefore Hardy's use of alliteration shows he had enough capability to make use of this technique. The final stanza in the poem has great significance to the poem and its meaning. Hardy uses short sentences and caesuras to demonstrate how harshly Emma's death came about and how harshly their relationship ended. 'Well, well! All's past amend/Unchangeable. It must go.' shows how he seems reluctant to accept that Emma is now dead as the short sentences make it sound as though he is slowly trying to make himself accept this fact. Sharp caesuras in this stanza also make it feel as though trying to convince himself Emma is gone is very painful. To conclude, Hardy uses literary devices such as alliteration and sensual imagery to give a sensual feel to this poem, however the underlying tone and meaning of this poem is a sad and greivious one as highlighted by Hardy's use of blame and structure. Short sentences and an inconsistent ryhming scheme demonstrate this sad mood. ...read more.

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