Essay on Tragedy and Thomas Hardy Literature

765 Words 4 Pages
Many critics and commentators think of tragedy as a broad thematic concept that covers the majority of Hardy’s work (Wright, 2003; Brooks, 1971; Goodheart, 1957; Lawrence, 1936; Johnson, 1923). D. H. Lawrence (1936) comments that tragedy is a central concept in many of Hardy’s novels and places Hardy as a great writer of tragedy at the same level as Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy. The tragic approach to understanding Hardy’s work is very old. The first one to discuss it on tragic grounds seems to be Lionel Johnson. His book The Art of Thomas Hardy, first published in 1894, drew attention to the tragic elements in Hardy’s works. The assumption was that Hardy’s works reflect a sad tragic tone, an insistence on man’s unhappiness in …show more content…
And, on Aristotelian grounds, Hardy is always blamed for the role of coincidence in his tragedies. The plots of his tragedies lack the logic of cause and effect that are convincing for his readers. Coincidence has a great part for instance in Tess of D’Urbervilles, The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Jude the Obscure (Paterson, 1991; Brooks, 1971; Johnson, 1923). This may be the reason that Johnson (1923) argues that Hardy was not a pure Aristotelian. However, he admits that Hardy was a unique tragedy writer as he could integrate classical tragedy and modern realistic thought successfully.
On the other hand, it is argued that Hardy has his own sense of tragedy which makes him unique and different from classical and Renaissance tragedians: He is not committed to Aristotle’s rules of tragedy or to those of any clearly defined school (Kramer, 1975; Lawrence, 1936). The protagonists of Hardy, Lawrence explains, are real people. Unlike the Greek classical protagonist, they are opposed by their own society not rules of Nature. His tragedy thus becomes the struggle of man/woman against the merciless conditions of modern society, a society which restricts and denies the rights of the poor and common to lead a dignified life: Hardy’s people find themselves up against the established system of morality, they cannot detach themselves, and are brought down (Lawrence, 1936). In this, Lawrence suggests that the tragedy of Hardy is best discussed in