Thomas Hardy's Pessimism in Novels

Also Read

      'Hardy's world is a Glorious One' True! 'He loves his people' All the more true! Go with a searchlight into Hardy's world to find out a pack of villains and you will return disappointed. Of course, you will come across many a one who become the instruments of evil fate and become the cause of the ruin of his protagonists. But you will see, odious villains, detestable and condemnable rascals few there are. Even a few villain-like persons, that you happen to come across, are not unredeemed villains. Simply he can't draw odious people. Odiousness implies meanness; and mean people neither feel deeply nor are aware of any issues larger than those involved in the gratification of their selfish desires. If Hardy tried at all, to draw such persons, it is a dreadful failure, Alec d'Urberville is just the conventional vile seducer of melodrama and not a very successful portrait. Hardy can't get inside such a person and see how life looked to him. Not that his successful creations are all virtuous, Henchard and Eustacia, to name no others, commit sins in a grand manner. But it is the grand manner, the expression of an over mastering passion, not the calculated consequence of selfish lust. Moreover, they know they are wrong, they are tom with conscience. "We don't dislike-them" (Cecil). On the other hand, he, excels at drawing good characters, noble characters and great characters but he does not copy some lifeless model of ideal goodness. Mankind, to him, always assumes the heroic proportions of a figure seen against the vast sky of Destiny. So, indeed, his world i.e., the people living in his world are glorious creatures. He loves them.

      But he hated life intensely. He does not think it worth living. He perceives it in the grip of cruel, blind and oppressive Unknown Will

“As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods-
They kill us for their sport."

      Chance in its purely malevolent aspect enters our life and spoils it, brings trials and tribulations, sorrows and sufferings, pain and agony in its train. What is the use of being a plaything in the hands of "the President of the Immortals?

      So Hardy is a Pessimist, but there is a dark, grimly dark and gloomy as well as a bright sunny side to his philosophy. He is not a misanthrope like Hobbes who thinks man essentially a beast, mean, abject, detestable and an odious creature. He is a pessimist like the classical writers who considered man merely a puppet in the hands of mighty Fate—unjust, cruel, blind and jealous of happiness of mankind.

"The Label of 'A Pessimist' is affixed to his name for ever and for ever. But he resented it during his life time"

      Sometimes Hardy would retort that to object to a writer being a pessimist was to ask him to close his eyes to human ills. He said that he was simply recording sincerely, faithfully and truly the impressions of life that he had received. Further, in his opinion: "As in looking at a carpet, by following one color a certain pattern is suggested by following another another" and he said that in his novels he had simply traced out such a single pattern by looking at the carpet of life. So why this abuse of 'Pessimist' should be hurled on him over and over again. A critic says:

"But he is a pessimist and it is as sure as there is a head on your shoulders, my dear reader! His so-called impressions are so numerous: and so consistent that it is difficult to suppose that a considered. philosophy was not at the bottom of them. Impressions are always vague but he is so sure, so definite that we should call his so called impressions His Convictions".

      Of course, he has traced a certain pattern in the carpet, but certainly, this pattern is not always, but rarely and not in such thick dark color, found in life.

Previous Post Next Post