Feminist Reading of Hardy’s the Return of the Native

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Feminist Reading of Hardy’s The Return of the Native

Most of Hardy’s novels or better to say all of them are considered to be modern. In fact, one can notice so many features of modern novels in his fiction. By referring to Robert Schweik’s article (1994) pertaining to the idea that Hardy has influenced so many modern novelists such as D.H. Lawrence, one of the key critics of Hardy novels, chiefly in the notion of feminine and treatment of women which is one of the distinguishing features in his fiction. One can regard this type of treatment of women in Jude the Obscure, the sixth and the last of his major fictions, in a way that Sue, the heroine of the novel, is a liberated, unconventional and broadminded feminine who rebels against the conventions of the Victorian society. Although at the end Sue thrusts upon the social laws and ideologies, she is very much a modern type of woman or as Elaine Showalter stated the obvious in her division of the female literary tradition into three stages . Here the second stage is immensely relevant that is the stage of protest against the standards and the values and, a call for autonomy (Literature of their own, 13) Hardy established in his fiction. Moreover, by making a female character like Tess, in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Hardy tries to criticize the Victorian society, the very strict one with that particular Victorian code and respectability which is a traditional type of dealing with women in the community in which the only way to protest is to commit suicide. While many critics have disagreed with the matter that Hardy treats with his heroines in a kind and tender way, Rosemarie Morgan gives us evidence regarding this idea: “While he [Hardy] was writing the Return of the Native…he was reading the works of a woman he greatly admired, whom he regarded as one of the “Immortals” of the literature, and who has happened



Cited: Hardy, T. 1995. The Return of the Native, Wordsworth Editions Limited, Hertfordshire. ---------- . 1995. Jude the Obscure, Wordsworth Editions Limited, Hertfordshire Harvey, G. 2003. The complete critical guide to Thomas Hardy, Routledge,, London Millgate, M. 1971. Thomas Hardy: His Career as a Novelist, The Bodley Head, London and Sydney. ----------, 1992. Cancelled words: rediscovering Thomas Hardy, Routledge Showalter, E. 1977. A literature of Their Own, University Press, Princeton. Schweik, R, 1994. “Modernity in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure” in Bloom’s Modern Critical Views: Thomas Hardy

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