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Compare and contrast the ways in which Hardy explores 'Time's unflinching rigour' in 'At Castle Boterel' and the 'Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion'

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the ways in which Hardy explores 'Time's unflinching rigour' in 'At Castle Boterel' and the 'Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion' Having studied 'At Castle Boterel', a short poem written by Thomas Hardy in the early twentieth century, and 'The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion', a short story written by him in the late nineteenth century, it appears that Hardy is interested in the ideas of love, time and human mortality. Hardy writes about his own past experiences. The poem 'At Castle Boterel' is written about his love for his Cornish wife, Emma Gifford. Hardy is particularly interested in the perception of time and the way in which human life follows the pattern of time, and this is shown in both the short story and the poem. Hardy's interest in time can be linked to the quotation 'Time's unflinching rigour' in the poem 'At Castle Boterel'. He is also interested in the way that the physical landscape never changes, and how there is a wide span of unchanging time. This is quoted in the first line of the short story, 'Here stretch the downs; high and breezy and green, absolutely unchanged since those eventful days'. This quote, especially the words in italic, tells us that the landscape never changes, and it outlives many generations of human life. ...read more.

Middle

The time period, in which the story was set, was a time in which women were not given the same freedom and responsibility in marriage as they are today. Back in the nineteenth century, English women were sometimes even trapped in marriage. This can be linked with Phyllis's engagement to Humphrey Gould, and also the fact that men control her life. Her lifestyle in the story depends on the men in her life; for example, she deeply relies on Matth�us Tina and her father, who literally control her life. This can be linked with the idea that circumstances change as time goes on. This is because, back in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, women were not given the same freedom as they are today. Social attitudes to life, e.g. the life of women, change as time goes on. This fact also proves that Hardy is interested in the movement of time. If the story were to be told routinely, for example day-by-day, then Hardy would be following 'Times unflinching rigour'. However, by writing the short story, Hardy attempts to defeat time, and one way in which he does this is by not equally spreading out time throughout the story. This tells us that Hardy can control time within his narrative. The poem 'At Castle Boterel', written by Thomas Hardy, is about an old man reminiscing about the past, when he and a lady once had a good time. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hardy's memories are fighting against 'Time's unflinching rigour', which has destroyed his physical relationship with Emma, but not his memories. Hardy cannot remember exactly what happened at Castle Boterel- all he can remember is his love for Emma. The poem accepts the enervating effect of time and the inevitability of death. It is a particularly sad poem, as the reader feels Hardy's emotions for Emma, and this is why, I think his memories for her are better being written in a poem. 'At Castle Boterel' and 'The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion' are very similar because they both contain loving memories and Hardy attempts to control time in both. Both are centred around love and Hardy uses the landscape to suggest 'Time's unflinching rigour'. They both show how love may not be able to cheat time, however it does in 'The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion' as Phyllis's love for Matth�us Tina lives on forever. There is a theme of mortality in both the story and the poem. For example, in 'The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion', the soldiers are executed for desertion. Also, in both pieces there is a distance between the event happening and the story being told. This difference in time allows Hardy to manipulate time. The main similarity however is that they both explore the movement and perception of time. In my opinion, the poem is more personal than the story and expresses Hardy's emotions more poignantly than the short story. ...read more.

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