Thomas Hardy and Religion
Famous author and poet, Thomas Hardy, was born June 2nd in the year of 1840 into a small town called Higher Bockhampton in Stinsford Parish. He lived in a lower class family, aware and content with their position. Hardy’s father was a master mason while his mother stayed at home and encouraged Hardy’s education. His mother taught him to read, and continued educating him through his years until the age of 16. At this point, a friend of Hardy’s father, John Hicks, took Hardy in as his pupil. Next door to Hicks’ office was a school run by a well-known poet that ended up cultivating Hardy’s literary potential. The poet, William Barnes, and Thomas Hardy formed a friendship that led to Hardy pursuing the literary arts (Rollyson).
Thomas’ father’s work often involved masonry for the Catholic Church. This and his family being Catholic caused Thomas to be raised as a Catholic; though, his parents’ religious prospect was less than Thomas’. Like his father, and his grandfather, Hardy fell in love with the music of the church. As a child, Hardy’s religious values were brought forth by his religious teachings from the Church, but his parents thought differently. His parents thought not much could come from Christianity; they saw that Christianity was simply a belief to be followed and that it would yield little actual value. As Hardy aged and became more mature, he saw things in the world that affected his religious beliefs. In his twenties, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was released unto the world, affecting many religious faiths. Hardy saw this new advance in science and theory along with the flaws it unveiled within faith as a whole, and religion became distasteful in his eyes (Pite, 108). A late quote from Hardy was as follows: “I have no philosophy”. This quote could be a simply put, yet very accurate expression of Hardy’s full philosophical belief, and that is that there is no philosophy. Hardy in most of his years saw humanity as a result of laws of nature; that humanity came from evolution and the principle of heredity. In other words, humanity was random luck that happened to gift humans with the consciousness of one’s misery in life, allowing them to make their own decisions against or for the laws of their environments however they may choose, and the results will be hardly, yet slightly, relevant in the universe. Thomas Hardy’s new outlook on religion did not solely come from his parents and Darwin’s new theory. The introduction of new science and technology around the world caught Hardy’s eyes. Critics can infer that three individual theories directly correlate with Hardy’s religious beliefs: “Darwin’s theory of ‘Ever-watchful Nature’, Herbert Spencer’s ‘Absolute’ theory, and Arthur Schopenhauer’s Immanent Will theory” (Morgan, 183-184). Though this morbid “idea” was Hardy’s philosophy (or lack of philosophy), his outlook on life was not changed along with his views. Because of his childhood and how he was raised, people could see Hardy continuing to live in a similar manner of Catholics, but was not held to their rules or expectations as Catholics (Morgan). Arthur Schopenhaur’s Immanent Will theory and Hardy’s view on religion are almost parallel with one another, and could be seen as very similar in many of their aspects. One could see Hardy’s belief to be a median drawn between Schopenhaur’s theory and Darwinism (Morgan, 185). Some studies lead to believe, though it is still in question, that Schopenhaur’s theory was in some way responsible for influencing Hardy’s conclusion in his beliefs. This is because Hardy’s belief is, in part, a distorted look at Shopenhaurism directly. Schopenhaurism is a philosophy in which all as viewed in part of a huge universe. As humans, people have come to know consciousness through what could be natural selection, or some form of evolution. Our “will”, as referred to in the philosophy, is relatable to our “representation” in the vast universe....
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