Thomas Hardy- the Walk Analysis

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Njeri Muhia

Mrs. Muthama

20th October 2011

Critical Analysis of The Walk by Thomas Hardy

Grief is a complicated thing, and Thomas Hardy clearly depicts the varying and contrasting emotions that overcome him when it comes to dealing with the death of his wife Emma. The Emma series encapsulates how Hardy felt for his late wife, her passing, and his involvement in her death. The Walk definitely varies as compared to the rest of the poems in the Emma series; there is a contradiction in the construction, illustration of Emma, and the general tone as well as a change in attitude when considering the ‘difference’ and change in his life after the passing of Emma, though includes some of his stylistic elements.

         The construction of the poem is greatly different as compared to the other Emma poems, however some elements of Hardy’s style are still captured in the poem. Firstly, most of the poems in the Emma series are presented in three or more stanzas.  There is swift interchanging of tenses that is present and key in most of his poems, like in Your Last Drive where in the first stanza alone, Hardy is ‘here, by the moorway’, is thinking about the ‘lights ahead that lit [Emma’s] face’ and how they ‘never again would beam on [her]”.  The change in tenses clearly illustrates Hardy’s grapples with Time and the future, however in The Walk, the first stanza is all focused in the past, and the second –as well as final—stanza, it is written in present tense. This definite shift in construction depicts that Hardy has reached some sort of resolution with the passing of Emma, there is no longer any skepticism, it is as if he has recognized that his battle with Time is over and he has lost.  Furthermore, only in the first stanza does he directly address Emma, but in the next, he is thinking to himself, not even thinking of Emma, but of his environment. This sharp contrast exhibits his loneliness and emptiness that he has to face without Emma, which is present in all the other Emma poems but presented differently.

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The rhyme scheme as well is very atypical. Normally Hardy uses alternating rhyme schemes, however this is the only poem constructed entirely by rhyming couplets. This contrast presents a quietness, a solemnity to the poem’s tone of sheer guilt, unlike in the other poems that follow more complex schemes. By virtue of doing this, Hardy adds depth to the poems tone and emotiveness.

However, Hardy continues to use enjambment in this poem, like in your Last Drive and Shadow On The Stone to create a sense of conversation, and free flowing thought. The use of the rhetorical question also ...

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