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The Making of Magic Beauty

Author ZhangHaiYan
Tutor ShiZhiKang
School Shanghai International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Thomas Hardy Wessex novels tragic beauty
Type Master's thesis
Year 2005
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Thomas Hardy was one of the leading novelists in English literature at the end of nineteenth century. Most of his novels have his native place Dorset as their setting, and is known for his famous "Wessex novels". In these novels Hardy describes with great pain the deterioration of the rural life in southern England and expressed his pessimistic view on human life at large.Based on some of his Wessex novels, including The Mayor of Casterbridge, the Return of the Native, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, this paper aims at making a close study of the major elements in Hardy’s Wessex novels and approaches it from 3 aspects: the mythological atmosphere, naturalistic elements and features of Hardy’s regionalism. The mythological atmosphere in Hardy’s novels mainly lies in 3 sources: His tragic Grecian heroes, Biblical allusions and images and Hardy’s use of literary techniques such as Coincidence and symbolism. For naturalistic elements, this paper demonstrates how biological heredity and external social forces work together to destroy Hardy’s characters and the influence of Darwin’s evolution theory on Hardy’s writings. Meanwhile, this paper also finds out the major features of Hardy’s regionalism are: Hardy’s unique historical vision of uniting the past and present in a local environment, the conflicts between the characters and his social environment and the influence of physical and climatic conditions upon the characters. With an intensive analysis in the above-mentioned perspectives, the paper finally comes to find out where the tragic beauty in Hardy’s novels lies.

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