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Harmony in Nature, Society and Man

Author LiJingJing
Tutor ZhaoJianXia
School Zhengzhou University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords The Return of the Native ecocriticism nature self society harmony
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
Downloads 170
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As one of the greatest realistic writers, Thomas Hardy plays a significant role in the history of British literature. In his novels, nature and man are not only the source of his creation, but also the themes of his novels, especially his "novels of character and environment", which reflect his concern about both men and nature. The Return of the Native is one of his masterpieces of this kind in which the conflicts between man and nature are constant. By rereading the novel from the perspective of ecocriticism, the author of this thesis aims to explore Hardy’s ecological ideas so as to arouse more people’s consciousness of environmental protection as the global environmental degradation has become worse and worse nowadays.This thesis attempts to study The Return of the Native from three aspects, namely, natural ecology, social ecology and spiritual ecology to explore Hardy’s deep ecological ideas.This thesis is divided into four chapters, together with introduction and conclusion.The introduction gives a brief account of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, followed by literature reviews and questions discussed in this thesis.Chapter One briefly introduces ecocriticism and ecocritical concepts applied in this thesis, then explores the sources of Hardy’s ecological ideas by analyzing his life experiences and reading experiences.Chapter Two explores Hardy’s view of natural ecology embodied in this novel. The magnificent description of the natural world reflects his unique understanding of nature. He realizes the intrinsic value of nature:nature exists for its own sake. Man and nature are equal in the ecosphere. With the invasion of the industrial civilization, nature is unavoidably destroyed. Hardy criticizes anthropocentrism. At the same time, man’s alienation from nature leads to the disharmonious man-nature relationship. Hardy argues that man should see nature’s intrinsic value and his own interconnected relationship with nature, and that man should respect nature and be close to it. Hardy advocates building a harmonious man-nature relationship, which demonstrates his pursuit of harmonious natural ecology. The description of natural ecology reveals Hardy’s idea of ecological holism.Chapter Three is devoted to Hardy’s concern for social ecology. Industrial civilization changes people’s values. Pursuing the satisfaction of material desire, man becomes selfish and greedy, which distorts the normal human relationship. Hardy advocates human altruism which emphasizes love, sympathy and mutual help among humans. Human beings as a whole are an organism and should support each other and live interdependently upon one another, which reveals Hardy’s thought of ecological holism and embodies Hardy’s expectation of the harmonious social ecology.Chapter Four further explores that deterioration of natural ecology and social ecology are bound to lead to a disharmonious spiritual ecology. The distorted society causes self-disintegration which is embodied in the loss of self and renouncement of true self. Thus, people can hardly have a true self-realization, and finally their inner world is unbalanced. According to Deep Ecology, man’s self-realization lies in the harmonious coexistence with nature. Only by returning to nature and coexisting with nature, can humans build a harmonious spiritual ecology.The conclusion reveals Hardy’s ecological ideas in harmonious coexistence of man and nature, man and man and man and self. This thesis attempts to arouse humans’ ecological consciousness through exploring Hardy’s ecological ideas so as to make contribution to building a harmonious society.

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