• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How important is the use of irony in Thomas Hardy's poetry and in his novel 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How important is the use of irony in Thomas Hardy's poetry and in his novel 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'? Hardy's use of irony is clear throughout his work; The Mayor of Casterbridge1 (referred to from this point on as Casterbridge) clearly features many ironic twists in the plot, both obvious ones such as Henchard discovering Elizabeth-Jane's true parentage at such an inappropriate time, and more subtle uses of irony as when Mrs. Goodenough only betrays Henchard's past because Susan and Elizabeth-Jane remind her of it. Irony is also a clear feature in Hardy's poetry, especially prominent in the poem Hap2, where Hardy speaks of a 'vengeful god', laughing at him. Hap and Casterbridge were written twenty years apart demonstrating how irony was a constant feature of Hardy's work and not used in a brief experimental phase. Key to the debate on ironies importance in Hardy's work is to ask whether it is a motivational force behind his writing or is it used more as a tool for expressing Hardy's views on fate and mankind? It must be noted though that the use of irony in Hardy's work is often most prominent when representing his views on the cruelty of fate, and also for highlighting flaws in his characters' personalities. ...read more.

Middle

Even though Henchard accepts that the revelation about Elizabeth-Jane "was what he had deserved" it does not stop him treating her badly afterwards and possibly if Henchard had not discovered the letter then events would not have taken such a tragic turn. Had Henchard treated Elizabeth-Jane better she would not have left to live with Lucetta, thus Lucetta and Farfrae may never have met and events in Casterbridge would have continued more peacefully - such is the irony of life that Hardy deals with. The previously mentioned poem Hap deals with this concept of a "vengeful god" twisting fate in order to create disillusionment in life. The idea of life being a "pilgrimage" echoes the novel Pilgrims Progress7 which charts a struggle through life in order to attain salvation. Hardy though, does not write of a following salvation: his view is ultimately pessimistic. The Eumenides of Grecian plays who sought to punish the guilty may have inspired the "Doomsters" that Hardy speaks of. Although it has been written that the "tampering with the probabilities"8 in Casterbridge detracts from the novel, it seems that Hardy wrote as he perceived reality to be and himself claimed that "it is not improbabilities of incident that matter"9. ...read more.

Conclusion

but, although, Hardy's claim that the "improbabilities of incident"14 did not matter, shows his belief that the irony of the incidents did not detract from his novels' realism. Hardy undoubtedly felt that irony was fundamentally important to his work; the importance of irony is obvious through its constant use in both his poetry and in not only Casterbridge but in all his novels. Irony is not used for its own sake; it is combined with a sense of the supremacy of fate to give life's irony meaning. Hardy seems to believe that there is no freedom from fate but in fact freedom within fate and irony occurs through this. Freedom, Hardy seems to be saying, is not opposed to nature nor independent of it. Freedom is within nature.15 Fate is natural and irony is a part of fate; without irony then the fate in Hardy's novels and poetry would be left empty of meaning and also of interest. Irony and fate are tangled together in a complex web where they mutually rely on each other and would disintegrate without the other for support. Irony's importance is no greater and no less than the importance of fate in Hardy's novels and it is irony and fate together that make Hardy's work compelling to read and study. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Tess of the d'Urbervilles section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Tess of the d'Urbervilles essays

  1. Tess and the color red. (Hardy)

    using stonehenge as the setting for the last big scene of the novel lets hardy pull these three themes together. here we have a big historical religious site, but one that nobody understands the meaning of any more. having tess arrested on the heelstone at stonehenge around daybreak lets hardy hint that there are huge superhuman powers all around us.

  2. Tess of the D'Urbervilles- A Pure Woman.' Who or what does Hardy blame for ...

    that the pure perfect Tess he had constructed in his mind did not exist. Angel referred to Tess as a Goddess. "A visionary essence of woman - a whole sex condensed into one typical form". He called her Artemis, Demeter, Artemis was the virgin goddess of hunting, and Demeter was goddess of crops and vegetation.

  1. Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) by Thomas Hardy.

    There, he finds Tess in an expensive boardinghouse called The Herons, where he tells her he has forgiven her and begs her to take him back. Tess tells him he has come too late. She was unable to resist and went back to Alec d'Urberville.

  2. Examine how Hardy uses setting to explore related themes and issues.

    "All dressed in white gowns". At the beginning of the novel Tess, and the rest of the girls in Marlott were considered pure and untouched. "She wore a red ribbon in her hair", Hardy immediately makes Tess stand out from the rest.

  1. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles - review

    This is because he has always seen lower class life and been always treated like a lower class citizen, he likes this new "respect" that one parson had given him, by calling him by the title of "Sir", so he has too much pride from this, and would not like to lose his new-found title.

  2. Contrast the descriptions of Flint comb - Ash and Talbothays, showing How Hardy uses ...

    This indicates that his first impression of Tess is that he is sexually attracted to her. Alec then tries to charm Tess by pushing strawberries into her mouth and pressing roses into her bosom. These fruits of love are an indication of Alec's sexual desire for Tess as he preys upon her innocence.

  1. Tess of the d'Urbevilles: by Thomas Hardy

    One such way that Hardy shows this is by always making Tess supportive and loyal to her family. This is shown early in the book, where some of the girls of the Woman's Walking Club are teasing Tess about her fathers drinking habits and Tess tells them: "Look here, I

  2. How does Hardy interest and engage the reader of The Wessex Tales?

    Again, in The Distracted preacher, this technique is used to convey suspense and mystery. An example of this is when Lizzy states: "I air and dust them sometimes," Stockdale is bewildered; however, Lizzy was referring to her husband's clothes. This quotation can lead to two possibilities; either that Lizzy is

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work