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The Art of Irony in Thomas Hardy’s “Satires of Circumstance”

Author YeHongMei
Tutor DongHongChuan
School Sichuan International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Thomas Hardy “Satires of Circumstance” verbal irony dramatic irony situational irony cosmic irony aesthetic value
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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In English literary history, Hardy is regarded as both a novelist and a poet. He publishes fourteen novels, four volumes of short stories and eight volumes of poetry. As known to all, his novels attract critics’attention a lot. Nowadays, his poetry is examined more and more as well. Compared with the widely-studied“Poems of 1912-1913”, the study on the“Satires of Circumstance”, which is included in the same volume Satires of Circumstance, is comparatively slim. Showing Hardy’s perception towards life, this sequence of poems is vivid and close to life. What is more, the wide employment of irony and dramatic narrative in these poems makes Hardy’s criticism on human weaknesses more severely. This thesis intends to study the four kinds of irony in“Satires of Circumstance”, and explains the aesthetic value of the irony: comic effect and self-reflection, emphasizing the importance of the irony in Hardy’s writings.There are three parts in this thesis.The Introduction Part introduces the life background of Thomas Hardy and its influence on the writer, summarizes the study on“Satires of Circumstance”, and elaborates the outline of the thesis and its significance.The First Chapter elaborates the use of irony in Hardy’s works from two aspects: irony between seems and is; irony between is and ought to be.The Second Chapter closely analyzes the use of four kinds of irony in“Satires of Circumstance”: verbal irony, dramatic irony, situational irony and cosmic irony. The verbal irony is shown through overstatement and understatement. Because of Hardy’s wide use of the dramatic narration, the dramatic irony is shown through the point of view, and the situational irony is shown through the plot. Cosmic irony, as the mock of fate, will be closely analyzed.The Third Chapter focuses on the aesthetic value of the irony in this sequence of poems: the comic effect of the irony and people’s self-reflection on their weaknesses.The Conclusion Part draws a conclusion that Hardy not only aims to criticize human’s weaknesses, but also urges people to reflect on themselves.The body chapters combine to elaborate the art of irony in the“Satires of Circumstance”. This paper also illustrates that Hardy employs many narrative techniques in his poems, which distinguishes him from other contemporaries.

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