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Прогресс, 1981. – 208 c.
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Гиленсон Б.А., История литературы США. – М.: Издательский центр
«Академия», 2003. – 704 c.
Засурский Я. Н., М.М. Коренева, Е.А. Стеценко, История литературы
США. Литература начала XX века. – М.: ИМЛИ РАН, 2009. – 789 c.
Самарин Р.М. Зарубежная литература: Учеб. пособие для филол.
спец. Вузов. – М.: Высш. шк., 1987. – 368 c.
Спиллер Р. Литературная история Соединённых штатов Америки. –
М.: Прогресс, 1981. – 645 c.
Стоун И. Моряк в седле: Художественная биография Джека Лондона. –
М.: Книга, 1984.
London Jack The Sea Wolf. – 1904. – 257 p.
Чечетко М.В., Баяхатова С.С. Человек и сверхчеловек в романе Джека Лондона «Морской волк» (Волк Ларсен или Хэмфри Ван Вейден?) Статья посвящена философской основе известного романа Джека Лондона «Морской
Волк», а также актуальной и в наши дни проблеме альтруизма и индивидуализма.
Художественное воплощение авторской идеи находит успешное раскрытие в статье и
проблема героя получает тщательное и убедительное освещение. Ключевые слова:герой, человек, сверхчеловек, индивидуализм, ницшеанство, сила,
противоречие, философия, чувство, образ.
Chechetko M.V., Bayakhatova S.S. The man and the superman in the novel “The Sea Wolf” by Jack London (Wolf Larsen or Humphrey Van Weyden?) The article deals with philosophical basis of famous novel by Jack London "The Sea Wolf",
as well a relevant problem in our days – altruism and individualism.Artistic realization of the idea
considerssuccessful disclosure in the article and the problem of the hero receives a convincing
Keywords: hero, man, superman, individualism, Nietzscheanism, power, contradiction,
philosophy, sense, character.
UDC: 82-32 (410.1)
Shamgonova R.G. –master of pedagogical sciences, teacher, M.Utemisov
(Uralsk city, Kazakhstan)
WOMEN CHARACTERS IN THOMAS HARDY’S SHORT STORIES Annotation. The article focuses on the portrayal of women characters in short narratives by
Thomas Hardy on the background of Victorian society. There are described stereotypes about
Victorian women, their duties and qualities which are in contradiction with women characters by
Hardy in most of his short stories. The work provides Hardy’s general approach towards women and
the emphasis is placed on the description and analysis of particular stories with common features such
as women courage and determination, the destruction and torture of men, and the role of social status. Keywords: Hardy, Victorian women, morality, short stories, female character, noble dames; Thomas Hardy belongs to the “third generation” of Victorian writers in critical
realism because as Penny Boumelha said, the big change for Hardy was Darwin’s
theory of evolution in contrast to older writers at these times such as Dickens and
Thackery. Evolution effectively replaces God as the origin and goal of moral
behaviour, and merges together the moral and the 'natural' [4, p. 24]. In other words,
Hardy’s book “set in a predominantly rural Wessex, shows the forces of nature outside
and inside individuals, combining to shape human destiny.” [3, p. 169].
The way Hardy became a writer was a slow awakening in his feelings for
literature. As was mentioned in the introduction part he was originally an architect, but
architecture on its own did not fulfill his needs and interests so he started to study
literature. When he was twenty years old, he went to London where he met with Sir
Arthur Blomfield for whom he worked and helped in the restoration of churches.
Actually, Blomfield was also a painter and designer who deepened Hardy’s love for art
more than for architecture [9, pp.15-16]. When he came back to his native county he
combined his love for literature and architecture and began to write. His first attempt to
write was an essay on Coloured Brick and Terra-CottaArchitecture. Another little
paper was How I built myself a House which was not technical but a humorous sketch.
Then he continued with the novels DesperateRemedies, Under the Greenwood Tree and A pair of Blue Eyes. However, his choice between architecture and the design was
made after the year 1874 when he wrote Farfrom the Madding Crowd which finally
settled his career as a writer [9, pp.18-20]. Hardy was so highly criticized for his most
sensitive and tragic work Tess of thed’Urbervilles that he later dramatized himself, but
his book Jude the Obscure got much more resistance and criticism. Critics renamed
this book Jude the Obscene and Hardy was accused of senility, morbidity, masochism
and sexual perversion. Although there were also positive responses, he gave up writing
novels and begun to write poetry [11, pp. 528-530]. There is no particular period when
he was devoted to writing his short stories, because he wrote them within the time
before he started to write poetry.
His early works are full of diversity of form and approach and that is why he
described himself as “a young author feeling his way to a method.” [4, p. 29].
According to Harold Child, the main features of Hardy’s writing can be
described as writing about rural folk in a part of England called Wessex, or to be more
specific, writing about the battles of individual human wills against the might that rules
the world [5, p. 11]. Hardy had some notes or fragments of stories from Wessex that he
used to hear as a boy and then could play with his great imagination [9, p.76]. He
followed R. Browning and Wordsworth in his endeavour to write in a language close to
the speech of people, not his own words. He experimented all the time with stresses,
rhythms and verse forms, disliking and avoiding any facile flow [6, pp. 433-434].
There is hardly a comfortable sleepy or boring corner in his works, he is always
awake and strenuous [9, p. 38].
His stories, rightly or wrongly, blend darkness and light together; that he mingles
various propositions of either element, to produce various combinations. [8, p. 41].
Zdeněk Střнbrnэ claimed that Hardy himself tended towards a tragic interpretation
of life, mainly because he was a person sensitive towards human suffering and the injustice
done to the people of his native county. Nevertheless he was able to consolidate all life
experiences, both literal and intellectual influences, into an original and artistic vision of the
human fate portrayed on a background of the infinite universe [11, p. 526]. That he was
sensitive towards human suffering does not mean that he avoided suffering in his works.
Annie Macdonell said that: the common incident had not often satisfied him; he loved to
drag his personages into bizarre situations, where they grow desperate or lightheaded,
where circumstances stood to them in strong contrast, mark their isolation, prove their
weakness or their strength. [9, p. 70].
In other words calling him pessimistic is too easy and only half of the truth [9, p.
210]. “He is often in revolt: otherwise he would be no tragedian.” [9, p. 214]. He began
his literary career with thoughts that were in advance of the majority of his
contemporaries that is visible in his works as a change in people’s minds and lives
during Victorian times [9, p. 8].
The differences between male and female writers points of view on women
characters were mention earlier. Hardy was an extraordinary writer who was able to
portray women from both points of view. In his novels the women were fragile and
beautiful, as was common, for example in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. According to
Shanta Dutta the pain and pathos of woman’s position is portrayed there, because in a
patriarchal society it is always a woman who is forced to “pay” [7, p. 88].
On the beauty of Tess’s character there is no need to dwell. Her fineness and
clarity of spirit, her faith and devotion, her strength and tenacity in love, her essential
sweetness, compel the reader to share the author’s anguish of pity for her sorrows, his
passionate indignation at the stupid waste of her lovely qualities. [5, p. 67].
Similarly in the novel The Woodlanders is the character of Marty who is
Hardy’s noblest example of simple-natured womanhood. Her sweet mind and spirit
were not hurt by sorrow, bitter hard work and humiliation that followed her all her life
[2, p. 121]. But in many of his short stories, Hardy shows that he can also portray
fragile men and that the women are not the poor foals as was described as a typical
feature of men’s literature.
At length this singular punishment became such a torture to the poor foreigner
that he resolved to lessen it at all hazards compatible with punctilious care for the name
of the lady, his former wife, to whom his attachment seemed to increase in proportion
to her punitive treatment of him [1, p. 185].
He portrayed women as if he knew exactly what is inside them. It can be said
that he learnt from them due to his literary, romantic or purely social involvements
with various women. Although he needed those involvements for his writing, they are
ascribed to his later unhappy marriage with Emma Lavina Gifford. She was jealous of
his meeting with younger and more beautiful women [7, p.150]. Emma Tennant said
provocatively that he neglected his wife that he was indifferent and cold to her and that
is why he made of her that well-known phenomenon, “the madwoman in the attic” [7,
pp.127-128]. After Emma’s death he remarried Florence Hennier and although he
became disillusioned with her at both a romantic and literary level the relationship was
not sour [7, p. 140]. Both of his wives had literary ambitious and he took them under
his wing [7, p. 127].
What was revealed later was his love affair, before his first marriage, with his
cousin Tryphena Sparks. This relationship is written about as an important factor of his
literary women and their complicated relations with men [11, p. 525]. T.S. Eliot wrote
of Hardy that he seemed to be relieving some of his own emotions at the expense of the
reader [4, p. 33]. The choice of the husband and the centredness of woman characters
are Hardy’s significant structure of his works that brings the question of female nature
and the otherness of the male writer [4, p. 25].
According to The Macmillan English Dictionary courage means: “the ability to
do something that you know is right or good, even though it is dangerous, frightening,
or very difficult.” [10, p. 319]. Strength is defined as “the ability to achieve something,
even in difficult situation.” [10, p. 1418]. And the word determination is described
there as “the refusal to let anything prevent you from doing what you have decided to
do.” [10, p. 377]. These definitions can be put together for one special definition of
human quality that Hardy ascribes to his women characters in particular stories. The
first example containing those features is called “The Marchioness of Stonehenge” in A Group of Noble Dames. Generaly, those noble dames were described by Annie
Macdonell as Ladies of freer manner, but their freedoms are scrupulously written in
such a way that will offend as little as possible [9, p. 227].
The story begins when Lady Caroline with all her personal charms becomes
tired of wealthy young gentlemen. She passionately centres her affection on a plain but
gentle man of no position. When being alone they whisper tender words to each other
but nobody can see them and they decide on a secret wedding. In Victorian times it was
common to marry according to ones parents’ wishes and thus advance the family
status. Women depended on their husbands because they were not allowed to study
except for patch works, taking care of their looks, and raising children. Moreover, if a
woman had a lover she was blamed for adultery which meant shame and humiliation
and every man would scorn her [3, p. 1596]. In this story it is seen how the woman
tries to conceal her relationship and marriage with the lower-class man for the same
reason: the humiliation of her and her family. They meet in her room late at night when
everybody is asleep for more than a month, but suddenly Lady Caroline’s love begins
to wane and she becomes more anxious about her own position in society than about
her love. She treats him very badly one night, and he dies of a heart attack. Her treating
him badly means that Lady Caroline is blamed for his death. At first, she passionately
cries for losing him, but after a while she starts to realize her own position as a
daughter of an Earl. She dresses herself and him and drags him through the woods and
leaves him in front of his house. She thinks that she will not be suspected, because
nobody knows they have been involved in a relationship. He is known to have cardiac
problems and if a man had not seen somebody in the wood dragging a dead body
nobody would have suspected anybody. The Lady Caroline is afraid of being accused,
so she designs a plan concerning her husband’s recent affection towards Milly, a girl
from the neighborhood, who is still in love with him. Lady makes the best of this
situation and offers Milly her wedding ring, telling her the whole story and saying:
“you lost him in life; but you may have him in death as if you had had him in life.” [1,
p. 117]. Milly agrees because she still loves him. Therefore she confesses and
everybody believes her because her explanation is so consistent with the details. Milly
takes delight in caring for the grave and grieves there. Lady Caroline is satisfied until
she discovers that she is going to have his baby. She wants to tell the truth: You must
say that your statement was a wicked lie, an invention, a scandal, a deadly sin—that I
told you to make it to screen me! That it was I whom he married at Bath. In short, we
must tell the truth, or I am ruined—body, mind, and reputation—for ever! [1, p. 121].
Lady Caroline even cries that she loves him, but Milly does not want to give her back
her dead husband. The Lady tells her mother everything and leaves the village with her
and Milly. Some months later, Milly comes back with a baby. Here is seen the obvious
tragic result of the Lady’s determination to give up her own baby rather than to taint
her social status. One of the qualities which make Hardy one of the greatest writers and
what is perceptible in this story is his power of describing an inevitable woman
caprice: For this womanly caprice, with all its tragical result, becomes at last the very
type of impersonal, primal impulse of existence, driving forward all its varying forms
of embodiment, profoundly working even within their own natures to force them
onward in the great fatal movement of the world, all irrespective of their conscious
desires. [2, p. 85].
Years later, the Lady’s child becomes a successful soldier and she is proud of
him and wants to be proclaimed his mother. Her son refuses her with the words: “You
were ashamed of my poor father, who was a sincere and honest man; therefore, I am
ashamed of you.” [1, p. 127]. Although she remarries the Marquis of Stonehenge, she
no longer has a child. And she dies in anguish and sorrow for her deeds and because of
her son who despised her. Even though she dies in sorrow at the end she was strong
enough for a long time. She is not the fragile and sick woman prescribed to Victorian
woman and also as Gilbert and Gubar claimed. For this type of noble dame who is not
used to any hard work, it must have been very exhausting to draw the dead body from
her room and through the woods. Even the Lady never knew herself how she reached
her lover’s door [1, p. 114]. It is probably her strong fear of social dishonor that helps
her. From this arrangement new difficulties arise that she has to solve. The difficulties
are not only about physical strength but also about spiritual strength, for example to
give her baby to Milly. She believes she is acting rightly, and when she realizes her
mistakes it is too late
to retrieve it. In this narrative, there is also the discernible influence of social
position that is something that people struggle for. Hardy himself said that women
and men are not the same in nature and in society.
Hardy pleaded: that the position of man and woman in nature, and the position
of belief in the minds of man and woman – things which everybody is thinking but
nobody is saying – might be taken up and treated frankly [8, p. 257]. Not only in this
story does Hardy depict this difference between what people want to do and what they
do in consequence of the pressure of Victorian values and social stereotype. Another
narrative from Hardy’s collection, portraying woman courage and determination also
foreshadows the following chapter, analyzing the destruction and torture of a man. The
story called “The First Countess of Wessex” in A Group of NobleDames is about the
character of Betty who is not yet thirteen when her mother arranges a good marriage
with Reynard, a man 18 years older, who is noticed for his excellent qualities and for
being a wise man. The marriage takes place in London behind her father’s back
because he is strongly against the marriage. For her father, it is a torment that causes
him illness. They postpone the meeting of the couple until she is 16 years old, but her
father is still against it because she is too young.
One day her mother, knowing that Betty wants to escape, locks her up in her
room to wait for Reynard, but Betty looks very pale and ill and she is taken out by her
mother for a drive for some fresh air. They pass around a house where she sees a
woman at her age suffering from smallpox. Betty has an idea to kiss the woman to get
smallpox so her husband will not be allowed to come. It is an immediate act without
thought, full of determination and courage just to avoid meeting with her husband. On
the same day during the night she runs away with her true love. Her father is happy to
hear that she has escaped with a young boy she loves instead of the one her mother
chose her. Betty’s father dies in peace at least, but what nobody expects is that Betty’s
lover will abandon her, because she is going to be ugly due to smallpox. While 18
older Reynard is a really honorable man, and not only does he wait to see her for
more than five years but also he loves her even with smallpox. He kisses her sore face
and waits until she is nineteen years, according to her father’s wish. And after that,
they are known as a very happy couple. The courage of the woman and how she seeks
to avoid meeting her husband that she catches smallpox reminds a little of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Juliet wants to avoid marriage and takes some kind of
liquid that will narcotize her for a day so that her family will declare her dead and she
could wait for Romeo in a tomb.
The result was different from her initial idea and also different from Hardy’s
endings, but it is the same idea in that Betty wants to avoid a man that she does not
love. Annie Macdonell said that Shakespeare had influence upon Hardy’s much loved
and exasperating heroines. She said that Shakespare gave them the courage and the
example to extract their wit in rebelliousness [9, p. 8]. Patricia Stubbs saw Hardy’s
women characters from a different perspective and remarked: there are among Hardy's
women femmes fatales - 'emotional vampire [s],' she calls them – whose potential for
self-destruction and for destroying others arises from their excessively literal
application of the idea that women's proper sphere is that of the emotions and, pre-
eminently, of romantic love. [4, p. 38].
The potential for destruction, rising in romantic love, is seen in Betty’s self
destruction but there is also destruction of her father by his wife. He dies of the
suffering that his wife, Betty’s mother, inflicts upon him. He has to obey his wife his
whole life and he is not able to revolt against her even when it comes to his own
daughter and he becomes ill instead. The other man, Betty’s suitor, is also a victim of
the same woman. He obeys Betty’s mother to marry her daughter and not to meet her
until Betty is sixteen, which is prolonged up to the age of nineteen. Both men are
submissive to one woman, which is in contradiction with the Victorian stereotype.
“The Lady Icenway” is a narrative from A Group of Noble Dames where Maria
marries Anderling who is Dutch and comes to England on business from the north
coast of South America. When they are sailing to his home, where they are supposed to
live together, he admits to her that he has been married before. His first wife turned out
to be scandalous and very bad, so he left her and did not see her again, praying that she
might be already dead. The newlywed woman is too stout to be broken down by this
piece of news, and first comes to a decision that she will return home alone and say
that her husband died of malignant ague. It is not Maria but Anderling who is more
wretched and shattered in spirit, because he loves her deeply. He obeys her and what is
more, he gives her his bonds and jewels. She returns home where she lives in a
comfortable mansion and is going to have a baby. After some time, Maria remarries to
Lord Icenway, but she can not escape her fate because Anderling, her first husband,
sends her a letter full of tender words and devotion to her. It is written there that the
scandalous wife is dead and they can remarry again because he has changed his name.
When they meet after a long time, he does not fascinate her as he used to. Maybe that
is because he has become a man of strict religious habits and self-denied. When he
realizes that they will not be together again, he wishes to see his son for a moment at
least. She still has power over him and dismisses him very vigorously. Nevertheless,
Anderling returns once again and begs her for permission to see him. She eventually
agrees under the conditions that the son will not see him and he does not reveal
himself. The problem is when he sees his boy it is atorture for him not to see him
again. He lets himself be employed by Lord Icenway as a gardener. He does his job for
more than two years with pleasure and torture at the same time. He becomes ill and the
sadness of his heart that he is a stranger to his own son intensifies the illness and one
day he dies. Lady Icenway feels sorry for him and at his deathbed tells him “You must
get well − you must! I have been hard with you−I know it. I will not be so again.” [1, p.
167]. But there is no help for him, it is too late. She feels guilty and orders a stained-
glass window with the words “Erected to his memory by his grieving widow.” [1, p.
168]. Nobody, of course knows that his wife was Lady Icenway.
In this story the woman is stronger than the man and she goes forward only for
her own good. “Anderling ends up being a victim of Lady Icenway’s selfish
manipulativeness.” [7, p.102]. He does everything that she tells him to do because he is
very calm and submissive to her, although her behaviour leads him to his own
destruction. At first he feels guilty for betraying her then he is refused by her, the next
time he is desirous to see his own son and in the end he is sad and unhappy not to hug
his son. What is the most astonishing feature of Lady Icenway is that she does the same
thing as her first husband, Anderling. After his confession she proclaims him dead as
he did with his first, cruel wife.
Another example of men’s destruction is the story “The Honourable Laura” in A Group of Noble Dames. Laura and her lover Signor Smithozzi escape from her fatherand
hide in a hotel standing near the wild north coast of Lower Wessex. Her father, accompanied by his nephew, traces them to the hotel and directs her to come back with them, but she refuses to go home.“By the Lord Harry, Laura, I won’t stand this!” he said
angrily. “Come, geton your things before I come and compel you. There is a kind of
compulsionto which this talk is child’s play. Come, madam-instantly, I say!” [1, p. 249].
When the quarrels go on James, the cousin, can not stand it and says the truth
that he married Laura three months ago. He adds that they were meeting in secret and
waiting for the convenient moment to break the news until Signor Smithozzi appeared
and poisoned her mind against him. Her father says that if they are husband and wife
that they should reconcile and he leaves his daughter in James’ hands and goes home.
Both men blame each other and start arguing when they come to the conclusion
that only one of them can have her, the one who will survive. They arrange a meeting
outside the look of people, on a rock 80 feet above the icy sea. The Signor obeying a
quick impulse pushes Laura’s husband over the cliff and goes to the hotel. He says that
James went home and the Signor leaves with Laura. On the way she overhears a
conversation about two men going towards the waterfall and that only one of them had
come back. She puts two and two together and takes advantage of the situation to
escape him when he climbs a hill to look for the way. She runs to the people who were
discussing the accident and asks for details. She learns that the man is alive and has
slender hope for recovery.
Laura goes to James and watches him and nurses him but he does not even reply
to her remarks, he only utters some words of thankfulness for smoothing pillows,
shifting bandages but does not forgive her. After several weeks when he is able to
walk, they walk on the coast, she supports him, but he is not sure whether he can love
her again, and when he is healthy enough he leaves her. She settles down to a
mechanical existence alone without people when after 12 years her husband comes
back and they end up in each other’s arms.
In this story the character of the Lady is not evil or unscrupulous but she is only
ignorant to the consequences. She does not play with men intentionally. When all of them
meet in the hotel and the truth is revealed she only cries and does not know what to do. The
wretched men take the situation into their hands and handle it in their own way. One of them
could have been dead due to her and even when James survives with serious injuries it takes
him twelve years to overcome the situation and forgive her. Men and women in Hardy’s
fiction are not masters of their fates, they are at the mercy of the indifferent forces that
manipulate their behaviour and their relations with others, but they can achieve dignity
through endurance and heroism through simple strength of character [1, p. 1692].
Another story “Barbara of the House of Grebe” from A Group of Noble Dames is a mixture of two features: the torture of a man, and the role of social status. The
storybegins at the courting ball when Barbara, who used to not speak ill of any one,
leaveswith her lover Edmond without being seen. She sends a letter to her worried
parents,telling them that she is going to London and by the time they read the letter
she will bemarried. She leaves because she knows what is going to happen during the
ball. She is supposed to marry to Lord Uplandtowers, and at first her parents do not
speak to herbecause of the disgrace which is brought upon them by the marriage.
His blood was, as far as they knew, of no distinction whatever, whilst hers,
through her mother, was compounded of the best juices of ancient baronial distillation,
containing tinctures of Maundeville, and Mohun, and Syward, and Peverell, and
Culliford, and Talbot, and Plantagenet, and York, and Lancaster, and God knows what
besides, which it was a thousand pities to throw away [1, p. 70].
A few days later, the couple is vexed, so Barbara writes to her parents begging
for forgiveness. Mr. Grebe becomes aware that he loves his daughter more than his
name and does not object his daughter returning home with her husband. Barbara’s
mother does not wonder how Barbara could choose this man because he is very
handsome. They are financially dependant on her parents so there is no objection when
Edmond is sent to the Continent for a year with a tutor to get the education needed for
the status of being Barbara’s husband. In that age it was agreed that a gentleman was
someone who had a public or private school education (Miller). Edmond obeys his
wife and her parents and goes away to receive an education. He writes to her from
every place he visits. Barbara is happy to see his progress in reflection, but on the other
hand she starts to miss her affection for him after not seeing him for a long time. She
asks him for his portrait, but he is going to send her his statue but not immediately. She
even prays to God to love him again, but it is very difficult for her and she becomes ill.
But the worst news comes with a letter where it is stated that Mr. Willowes, her
husband, was in a theatre when it burned down, and he risked his own life to save some
people from there. He is fearfully burnt, and she recovers her affection and wants to go
to him, but she is not allowed to go to see his wounds. After several weeks he is able to
write himself and tenderly writes to her how it is a miracle to have one eye at least, and
he prepares her for his visage. She assures him that nothing will change her affection
but he does not trust her, he knows how he looks. She had lived six or seven weeks
with an imperfectly educated yet handsome husband whom now she had not seen for
seventeen months, and who was so changed physically by an accident that she was
assured she would hardly know him [1, p. 80]. When her husband arrives home he is
wearing a mask and he is trembling because of the impression he is producing. He asks
her if she is prepared to see him without the mask. She says yes but a spasm of horror
passes through her, she is unable to look at him and sinks down to the floor. Barbara
runs to her room to recover but she is so terrified when she hears that her husband is
coming to her that she runs away. The following day she finds a letter with a heading
“My ever-beloved Wife.” [1, p. 87]. He writes that he understands her and that he will
return in a year if she changes her mind. “I confess I thought yours divine; but, after so
long an absence, there could not be left sufficient warmth to overcome the too natural
first aversion.” [1, p. 87]. The year passes and he does not come and there is no sign of
him, so they start to consider him dead. Lord Uplandtowers comes back and he
becomes Barbara’s friend, and although she does not love him, she marries him. As
one might expect, she is not happy with him. One day she receives an announcement of
Edmond’s death. He died of suffering coupled with a depression of spirit, and it all
becomes too much for Barbara. At the end she becomes a victim of her new husband
who feels that she still loves Edmond because she admires and fondles his statue in
which he is in all his beauty as he used to be. Lord Uplandtowers hates the statue so he
deforms it and frightens her with it. In this story Edmond has to obey Barbara’s parents
and goes away for the education that ruins him in a way. The parents, unintentionally,
get what they wanted. They ruin the relationship between Barbara and Edmond and she
finally gets married to the Lord. Barbara does not blame her parents. She let him go to
study because she herself wanted an educated husband, but in the end she can not look
at him. He saved human’s lives at the expense of his own. Maybe it is only his beauty
she loves and admires and when he loses it she can not be with him anymore. Edmond
would do everything to please his wife and Barbara is finally terrified of him, which
causes him so much suffering up to his death. Annie Macdonell wrote that Hardy’s
narrative talent does not lie in the integral structure of his stories, which are a little
based on some fragments he used to hear as a boy, but in his rich invention of incident
[9, p. 72] which is quite visible in this story.
During the Victorian era the social classes were reforming and the growth of the
middle class was very large. Society was full of struggles to distinguish themselves
from the lower classes. In many cases the parents were looking for a husband for their
daughters, regarding their children not to be mature and reasonable enough to choose
their partner themselves. The differences between upper class and lower class women
were that lower class women were not educated. They did not even know that they
should stay passive in a relationship and not to show affection until a man declares his
honorable intentions to her father. Upper class men knew that and very often took
advantage of their ignorance and had relationships with girls without marriage that was
really a shame for the woman for her whole life. Sometimes the rich man could fall in
love with a woman from the upper class and vice versa as was evident in “Barbara of
the House of Grebe” but in that story the struggle for social status starts after the
marriage, because parents did not know their intentions.
The story “Squire Petrick’s Lady” in A Group of Noble Dames is about a woman who
wants to better the social position of her son. After a short time acquaintance, Petrick Timothy
marries a very pretty Annetta whose position is no better than his. When she delivers a baby
her health becomes bad, and when she feels that she will die she confesses to Petrick that the
boy is not his. The child is cut off from all inheritance, but he promises her that he will take
care of him. Petrick wants to remarry but seeing a girl he can not avoid mistrust of
womankind and he decides to live alone. He does not pay too much attention to her son but
three years later he sees the baby in the garden playing with a box and he can not help liking
him. What is more, he realizes that his name is Rupert, and that he could have been named
after his father, because the name was given to him by his mother. He associated this name
with the Marquis of Christminster for whom Annetta had warm feelings before the marriage.
In an instant, he understands and forgives her deeds that she wanted to improve the blood and
breeding of their family. He reasons that it is wrong to cut off his child from his inheritance,
when in fact Rupert is nobler than him. During the night he searches for the last will of his
father and he alters the date of the first will where Rupert is stated as the inheritor. Everything
has changed when Petrick meets a family doctor Budmouth whom he has not seen for a few
years. The doctor tells him that Annetta’s mother and grandmother suffered from the
hallucination of believing in certain dreams as realities and asks him whether he noticed it in
Anetta as well. He tells him the story about the confession before her death and the doctor
tells him that such a delusion is something that he would expect from her in such a crisis.
Petrick’s inquiries continue until he discovers that the Marquis was abroad when she got
pregnant. After all he is disappointed that Rupert has no more than plebeian blood in his veins
and his manner towards his son grows colder. ‘Why didn’t you have a voice like the
Marquis’s I saw yesterday?’ he continued, as the lad came in. ‘Why haven’t you his looks,
and a way of commanding, as if you’d done if for centuries − hey?’ ‘Why? How can you
expect it, father, when I’m not related to him?’ ‘Ugh! Then you ought to be!’ growled his
father [1, p. 185].
In this story a woman dies at the beginning but she mixes up the fates of both of
the men, her son and husband. It is not clear if she had a hallucination, or if she wants
to improve her son’s social status, instead of tainting it by her low position, but the
result is not good. Petrick married her without speculating about her position but
knowing a taste of better he starts to dislike his own son because he does not have
noble blood as he thought. Subsequent stories, containing features of social role, are a
little bit different from the female point of view than all the previous narratives. There
are no evil women, they are not strong enough and lack the courage. These women are
calm, humble and uneducated. It can be said that it is because they are servants as
opposed to the noble dames mentioned before.
These stories of mismatched loves bear the typical Hardyan signature in their
plotting as they voice Hardy’s indictment of a flawed universe, inimical to human
happiness, where ‘the call seldom produce the comer, the man to love rarely coincides
with the hour for loving.’ [7, p. 101]
Although Thomas Hardy (1840- 1928) is mostly known as a novelist and for
portraying his picturesque native county of Wessex, in this paper he is analyzed as a
short-story writer and for his rich portrayal of women characters in particular stories. In
spite of the fact that all his characters shared the same background, in Wessex as was
mentioned, he revealed varieties of human nature [8, p. 93]. Even though, some of his
short stories could have been elaborated into novels, his intention was to skim the
surface of diverse life that more fits into the form of shorter tales [9, p.75].
To sum up his female characters, Hardy neither idealized nor flattered women
[9, p. 103] and he did not create them intentionally moral or immoral but he wanted to
point out that human will had limited vitality and resistance that means that everybody
struggles in his own way [9, p. 59]. It seems that in his short stories Hardy portrays the
differences in behaviour caused by the distinction between classes. Women of lower position
are more unfettered, that means livelier and more cheerful. When they happen to be immoral
it is by their lack of the education needed to behave properly, but, noble dames who are
educated and know what is moral and immoral that is why in the stories “The Honourable
Laura” and “The Marchioness of Stonehenge” the couples got married to have sex, although
they married in secret, because of the men’s lower position. Generally, Hardy’s noble dames
are ruthless in comparison with the village girls who are kind and warm. The nature of upper
class women is associated with their restrictions. They are proper all the time and when they
release themselves it is much more extensive, and with tragical results. They are even in many
cases evil and mischievous which can be prescribed to their long lasting severity. Lower class
women do some jobs around the house at least, they can release their energy more often while
noble dames without any physical work stifle their feelings until they reach a peak and the
results are much worse. That is what Hardy says because some of his stories are based on
fragments of true stories and he is seemed to reveal true women to society with all their
charms and faults.