SOUND AND COLOR IN THE NOVELS OF THOMAS HARDY
For the requirements of the Honors B.A. Degree in English Literature- College of Arts & Sciences- University of Baghdad, May 1956.
Hardy is concerned with the picturesque aspect of life rather than with the study of character or social problems. He sees life in pictures and nearly always relates his story by introducing a sequence of scenes, each with its particular importance in relation to the development of the plot.
The scenes described are always impassioned; we survey them and feel their vitality. Sound, colour and smell, charged with emotion, all participate in constructing and vivifying these pictures. The scene in The Return of the Native, in which Wild eve and Christian play dice on the heath at night, is a perfect example of this:
It was a stagnant, warm and misty night; full of all the heavy perfumes of new vegetation not yet dried by hot sun, and among these particularly the scent of the fern. The lantern dangling from Christian’s hand, brushed the feathery fronds, disturbing moths and other winged insects which flew out and alighted upon its heavy panes(1).
…The incongruity of the men’s deeds and their environment was great. Amid the soft juicy vegetation of the hollow in which they sat, the motionless and the uninhabited solitude, intruded the chinks of guineas, the rattle of dice, the exclamations of the reckless players(2).
And when the lantern was extinguished by the death’s head moth and they are left in complete darkness:
As their eyes grew accustomed to darkness, they
Perceived greenish points of light among the grass(3).
It is the light of the glowworms.
Sound and colour have a leading importance in the novels of Hardy. They are the manifestation of life in everything: a human being proves his existence by the trace of his hand on a table and the pit-pat of his footsteps; a tree, by the sound of sap rushing in the twigs and by its green or silvery colour.
Every noise is the expression of a certain human feeling; whether these sounds emanate from human beings or inanimate things, they always suggest life and feeling. In his diary, he writes:
Every echo, pit-pat and rumble that makes up the general noise has behind it a motive, a prepossession, a hope, a fear, a liked thought forward, perhaps more- a joy, a revenge(4).
This impassioned outlook on life denotes the enthusiasm of Hardy. A man who responds to the minutest sound and faintest colour and sees beauty in the ugliest things when life is associated with them must be a great lover of life and a sincere advocate of its enjoyment.
Festivals, dancing parties, mimic shows and several kinds of public gatherings play a great role in his novels; lively human beings, adorned with the brightest coloured clothes are displayed gossiping and dancing while cheerful music and singing fill the air. In those scenes, Hardy presents the brighter phase of life, which shines for a while and then fades to give way for the dark and lasting sadness of the world. The club-walking scene in Tess of the D’Urbervilles expresses Hardy’s vision of innocence and happiness: the young fresh girls dancing in their white frocks on the green turf.
Not only is Hardy attracted by the noisy gatherings of people where life is revealed at its gayest, but he is also a great enthusiast for the faintest quiverings which an uninterested person would never recognize. These sounds play on his imagination:
Presently, there arose from within, a ticking like the love-making of a grasshopper(5).
Sometimes, his senses are transposed; the eye and the ear exchange their functions, or rather are supposed to do so due to the strong sensuousness of the writer:
It was possible to view by ear the features of the neighborhood, acoustic pictures were returned from the darkened scenery-they could hear where the tracts of heaths began and ended, where the furze was stalky, where it has recently been cut(6).
We see from these examples that Hardy’s intimacy with nature is very strong; he sees that it is endowed with human faculties. This feeling led people to say that he firmly believed in the quasi-human life of nature; but time and again, he points out that unless you live in the country and under the sway of savage nature, you will never believe that it is alive.
He conceived man as week and controlled by a blind power, fearfully cruel; therefore, all his characters are weak, passionate and simple, the more elemental their passions, the more apt they are to respond to the quiverings of nature and to be convinced of its vitality. Hence, sympathy is established between human beings and nature and they are less miserable. The characters in the novels are classified into groups: Marty, Giles, Thomasin, Oak and Tess are country people who live all their lives in the open air and they feel the vitality of nature; Eustacia and Mrs. Charmond are town-bred people, they do not respond to the charms and powers of nature; Clym and Jude are born in the country, and when they separate themselves from their native places, nostalgia takes hold of them and they never prosper in the strange world into which they have emigrated:
Winterbourne had a marvelous power of making trees grow. There was a sort of sympathy between himself and the fir, oak and beach so that the roots took hold of the soil in few days(7).
Marty listens while Giles Winterbourne plants the trees and says: “How they sigh directly we put them in”:
She erected one of the young pines into its hole and held up her finger, the soft musical breathing instantly set in, which was not to cease night or day till the grown tree should be felled(8).
Hardy wrote in his diary:
I sometimes look upon all things in nature as pensive mutes, an object or a mark raised or made by man on a scene is worth ten times any such formed by unconscious nature(9) .
These are proofs that refute the idea that Hardy believed in the quasi-human life of nature. There is one exception: Hardy presents Egdon Heath as a living force; Egdon heath is so powerful, so grim and grand that the life of man collapses altogether beside it. Here he relies no more on the sympathetic strain between human beings and nature; Egdon Heath “appeared slowly to wake and listen when other things sank brooding to sleep”, only at night “did it tell its true tale”(10), yet, to those who are born on Egdon Heath, to live there is dear and valuable.
The tragic strain in Thomas Hardy seems to have been intensified by the time he wrote THE RETURN of the NATIVE, so that man, a mere tool in the hands of indifferent fate, appears to him too weak to battle with that incomprehensible force. Egdon Heath became the symbol of fate.
Wind is another agent; it expresses the miseries of human beings :
It was the three sounds of wind, treble, tenor and bass notes were to be found then, that note bore a great resemblance to the ruins of human song(11).
Hardy’s conception of the wind is pessimistic; he always introduces it as harsh and cruel, as if it comes, driven by fate, to intensify the sorrows on earth:
The voice of the wind on the heath was shrill, as if it whistled for joy at finding a night so congenial as this(12).
It is always heard gnawing at the corners of the world, setting every thing in confusion and misery. It rasps and scrapes whatever it passes, and when no adjective can describe its terrifying sound, its effect on things is presented:
It was one of those nights when cracks in the walls of the old churches widen(13).
When the wind blows through the Heath bells, Hardy says:” The spirit moved them”(14). If we take this statement as it stands, we find that Hardy is inconsistent in his dealing with nature; but we can step a little further behind it and reconcile it with his previous statements concerning this matter, by attributing it to his personal moods: the wind seems to be a spirit, a cruel spirit, working against the weaker spirits of the universe.
Music has an important function in the novels of Hardy. It penetrates most of his characters; it makes them soft and dreamy and powerless; Farfrae sings his emotional songs at The Three Mariners; he is softened and all those around him are attracted to him and moved by his songs(15).
Tess listens to the tunes of Clare’s harp and since “the world is but a psychological phenomenon”, she falls into an ecstasy:
Tess was conscious of neither time or space; she undulated upon the thin notes and their harmonies passed like breezes through her, bringing tears into her eyes .The floating pollen seemed to be his notes made visible and the dampness of the garden the weeping of the garden’s sensibility .Though near nightfall, the rank smelling weed flowers glowed as if they would not close for intentness and the waves of colour mixed with the waves of sound(16).
At certain moments, the world becomes a unity of harmony and happiness; Hardy felt such moments and he endowed his characters with that bliss.
Music is also a stimulus for those characters to vent their restricted passions .They practice dancing for the same purpose: Eustacia, floating round Wild eve’s arm, succeeds in shaking off her depression and in driving her emotions to rankness(17). Dancing is also a form of sensuous intoxication: Elizabeth Jone indulges in her dance with Farfrae and forgets every thing around her(18).
The Hardy’s were well known as violinists; love of music was innate in them, Hardy’s sensitiveness to melody, though he was not a skilled musician, remained with him throughout life(19).This sensitiveness is manifested in his novels. In THE WOODLANDERS, he relates the history of the choir of his parish, its struggle with the new playing symbolized by Grace; the battle is between the old and the new .Hardy cannot but sympathize with the old choir in spite of his belief that the new playing is far more accomplished, and thus an important characteristic of Hardy is revealed: his attachment to the past.
It is noticeable that all the tunes and songs which Hardy introduces are simple and rustic: the old songs of his forefathers. Being emotionally a man of the past, he finds in these tunes many associations of innocence and happiness.
Although Hardy lived a considerable time off and on in London and must have become acquainted with the works of the great musicians of the nineteenth century, yet, he doesn’t mention any of them, even in his diary, except Wagner, and with dissatisfaction .It seems that Hardy could not respond to the complicated aspects of life .His attachment to the old was very strong .Nevertheless, he is a revolutionary against the stale conventions of society. But being a revolutionary does not imply that he believed in progress. His attack a against the conventions of society, especially marriage laws, was due to his belief that those conventions were not the laws of nature, but the product of man, therefore, they were not necessarily good or just : Tess becomes an outcast from society because she has broken one of these laws:
But this encompassment of her own Characterization, based on threads of conventions, peopled by phantoms and voices antipathetic to her, was a sorry and mistaken creation of Tess, fancy, a cloud of hobgoblins by which she was terrified without reason (20).
This proves that Hardy,s utmost end was to return to nature so as to retain the elemental feelings of human beings.
As Hardy is responsive to all kinds of sounds, he is still more responsive to the grandeur of silence. Silence o him, is appositive entity rather than a mere negation of sound. It evokes in him and in his characters the feeling of disembodied joy(21). He never explains the secret of that disembodied joy, being a sensuous writer to whom the material world meant every thing.
Silence is the note of permanency: Egdon Heath, grand in its vehemence, hardly utters a sound. It is the symbol of the indestructible. Yet, silence always reminds him of sound. Many are the incidents in which both are presented together so as to intensify the effect of one of them:” In the silence of the night, the flock of oak breaks out, Oak shouts: “ovey”, not a single bleat… the valleys and the farthest hills resounded”(22).
The majority of the sounds introduced express pain, sadness or fury: moaning, grumbling, wailing, boiling, and rattling and many similar ones are repeated again and again. They express the mood of Hardy, s later life.
As nature is always personified by attributing it to human sounds, so human sounds are likened some times to those of nature:
Owk sighed a deep honest sigh like the sigh of a pine plantation(23).
By such uses of similes and metaphors, hardy exposes the strong relationship between human beings and nature and thus he succeeds in creating a harmonious and unified world.
Human voices are no less attractive to Hardy: Clare is first attracted to Tess by hearing her speak and he comments:” what a fluty voice one of the milkmaids has”(24), but it is noticeable that nearly all the voices he comments on are feminine. Husky voices did not appeal to him. He is a great lover of femininity. This links up with his choice of characters. His heroines are all beautiful, delicate and highly charged with femininity.
Sometimes, he uses sounds as symbols of mischief that is to come. Troy, the fickle lover, tries to astonish Bathsheba by his sword tricks, the sword hisses around her while she is dazzled by the overwhelming artificial light(25), and Tess has gone to the D’Urbervilles, she is employed to whistle to the canaries and Alec teaches her how to whistle. Yet, the humming of the bees is a reminder of the coming of spring and the song of the cuckoo is the harbinger of summer. Such symbolic uses render the sounds a marked importance. They become a main character in the novel.
Every novel of Hardy has its peculiar acoustic atmosphere. The trumpet of John rings through The Trumpet Major until it is silenced by the death of the noble major. The choral songs of the old choir fill the world of Under the Green Wood Tree, day and night. The shrill sound of the wind whistling on Egdon Heath is not attenuated by the marriage of Venn and Thomasin. Ovey and the exquisite tunes of Oak’s flute hover through Far From the Madding Crowd. The plaintiff sighs of Hintock Woods are heard ever after the death of Giles in The Woodlanders.
Love of colors was innate in Hardy. We are told that when a child, he was an idle boy, especially in grammar, so he devised a plan for learning the genders by coloring the different names with different colors. We are also told that he was a frequenter of art exhibitions.
Hardy explains the inner characteristics and moods of the universe by presenting their outward appearances over which colour predominates. As for human beings, he stresses the point that clothes reflect the personality of the wearer. Changes of temperament are also traced in the outer colouring of the person. It is when Lucetta falls in love with Farfrae that she decides to be the cherry-coloured person for the whole of the coming spring. The description of Giles Winterbourne shows how a person’s nature and his appearance may be in great harmony:
He looked and smelled like autumn’s very
Brother, his face being sun-burnt and wheat
Colour, his eyes blue as cornflowers, his
Sleeves and leggings dyed with fruit stains,
his hands clammy with the sweet juice of apple, his hands sprinkled with pips and everywhere about him that atmosphere of cider(26).
Hardy, s happiest visions are drawn in cheerful colours. Youth, hope, blooming love and passion in all its aspects are always presented in green, yellow and red. These colours appear again and again denoting spring and summer, but they are always introduced so as to fade away and to be overwhelmed by the solemn and somber colours which are the clothing of the ascetic aspect of life. The opening scene in Far From the Madding Crowd is exceedingly cheerful, light and colour cooperate in introducing youth and charm:
In the morning, an ornamental spring wagon, painted in yellow and gaily marked, came down a chalky road. The wagon was laden with household goods and window plants and on the apex sat a woman, young and attractive. It was a fine morning, the sun lighted up to scarlet glow the crimson jacket she wore and painted a soft luster upon her bright face and dark hair. Every thing was invested with a peculiar vernal charm(27).
But time passes and Bathsheba’s crimson jacket is changed for a black garment covering her from head to foot. At that time,” she drew herself and her future in colours which no reality could exceed for darkness”(28).That happiness, which is but an” occasional episode in the general drama of pain”(29), is the theme of the majority of Hardy,s novels. Dark and sad colours stand for the general drama of pain. Accordingly, life becomes for him, a thing to be endured and he develops his theory on colours as a reflection of life:
Indeed, it is a question if the exclusive reign of this orthodox beauty is not approaching its last quarter. The new Vale of Tempe may be a great waste of Thule; human souls may find themselves in closer and closer harmony with external things wearing somberness distasteful to our race when it was young. The time seems near, if it had not actually arrived, when the chastened sublimity of a moor, a sea or a mountain will be all of nature that is absolutely in keeping with the moods of the more thinking of human beings(30).
This solemn mood dominates The Return of the Native. Here, Hardy states his final opinion concerning colour and the fate of the world. But the paradox of life attracts him still more, and in order to intensify the tragic element, he introduces on several occasions, the tragic situation with a bright background or clothing: at the grave of her three children, Sue stands with her bright clothes on, her clothes suggest to the eye, a deeper grief than the conventional garb of bereavement could express(31) . It is by such contrasts that Hardy strikes the highest tone of tragedy and reveals the poignancy to which no darkness can give its due.
Hardy reveals his conviction about life by such contrasting presentations: The Reddle man in The Return of the Native, running across the brown heath night and day, is meant to shock rather than to express a bright aspect of life, the inner self of the Reddle man is tortured and he deliberately inflicts pain on himself by adopting that strange trade. He is a satire on life; he is the victim and the giant at the same time. The Reddle man also marks the changeability of things in relation to the passage of time. He is the last representative of a vanishing trade on the eternal grim face of the heath.
Contrast doesn’t always have a tragic bearing. It is almost a habit of Hardy to see life in daring colours, red against black, and black against white. Usually, the presentation of these contrasting colours is for sheer aesthetics:
Before him stretched the long laborious road, dry, empty and white. It was quite open to the heath on each side and bisected the vast dark surface like the parting line on a head of black hair(32).
The dramatic incidents in the novels of Hardy can be classified into two groups: those that take place by daylight and those that occur by night in the dark or by fire light. The importance of time is marked by the nature of the situation and the mood of the characters, which is not likely to occur or be felt at any other time than the one mentioned. What happens before day- break when grey shades are spread over the universe has always the feeling of vagueness and doubt. Marty and Giles walk together at that time, the scent of their tragic lives hovers in the air:
Hardly any thing could be more isolated or more
Self-contained than the lives of these two, walking here in the lonely hour before day, when grey shades, material and mental, are so very grey (33).
And similarly, the different stages of day are marked. As to darkness, it is generally associated with despair and sadness. But in fact, night to hardy is ” a strange personality which within walls brings ominous introspective.. While under the open sky, banishes such subjective anxieties(34)”. Here he implies that it is our subjective conventional beliefs which create devils from nothing. On some occasions, darkness to him is a soothing element in the lives of slighted human beings. When tess saunters after twilight in the dark woods, she seems least solitary, she is at peace with the elements she moves in.
Hardy,s human beings do not sleep by night, nor do they relax. They are always out of doors doing things which will change the current of their lives.
This classification of scenes according to the action is significant not only in its dramatic, but in its psychological effect as well. The night scenes intensify the feeling of the reader and enliven the imagination by creating a sense of mystery supported by emotional ties. They also intensify the effect of the passionate nature of the characters on the reader. By night, passion overrides brains and human beings are seen at their weakest.
Next to black, Brown is the chief colour in the dark category, it is the clothing of Egdon Heath in whose “venerable one coat lay a certain vain of satire on human vanity in clothes”(35). It is the opposite of red in the bright category. As for red, it is the key of the novels of Hardy. Being primarily the symbol of passion, it stands for the young human beings who have not yet grasped the bitter facts of life and have not yet reached the stage in which they can appreciate and attune themselves to the brown, which is the symbol of permanency.
Red is the symbol of passion in all its aspects: Tess laughs,” the sun shines into her mouth as into a tulip”(36). Winterbourne’s face is ” lit with a red smile”(37). when Grace speaks to him affectionately. Here hope is implied. And when Bathsheba confronts Troy in the dark and sees his red jacket and shining buttons by the light of the lantern, illusion and rash love are stamped on her future life(38).
Sometimes , the imagination of Hardy drives him to see colours in insubstantial things:
Assuming that the souls of men and women Were visible essences, you could fancy the colour of Eustacia,s soul to be flame- like(39).
Here we have a colour that sums up a whole personality, and this proves the great importance and significance of colour to Hardy.
The most striking feature in the novels of Hardy, is the predominance of the descriptive scenes which appeal to the senses. In those scenes, Hardy the pot emerges from Hardy the novelist and distinguishes himself from being a mere novelist, by his emotional treatment of incidents and scenery.
Hardy turns his back on the industrial world in which the senses are supposed to be blunted and the emotion mitigated, and seeks consolation in the open country among the primitive people who, if not happy, must have retained the bliss of being sensitive and passionate. Accordingly, his novels are the best propaganda for emotions and elemental feelings.
One might condemn hardy for being too emotional in his outlook on life at a time when science and industry were rationalizing every thing and leading to a more practical way of living. But hardy creates a world of senses so luring and enchanting that one cannot resist being swayed by it. The experience we attain in reading him is lasting. We retain keener senses which help us to develop appreciation of the beauty of the universe. The thunder and lightning scene in Far from the Madding Crowd is a wonderful representation of the savage beauty of nature(40).
The strength of Hardy lies in his ability to present his intellectual ideas through sensuous means that appeal to the emotions. Destiny, that unknown power that rules the universe, is personified by the cruel aspects of nature, thunder, lightning and wind. Chance is also destiny incarnate; it stands for the situations which are out of control of human beings as well as of nature.
By avoiding the abstract and the supernatural elements in life, hardy is nearer to the rationalistic tendency of the age in which he lived, than he is supposed to be. If ever he differs from the rationalists, it is in his emotional view of life which renders his characters weak, and therefore unable to resist the mechanical roll of the universe.
Concrete descriptions give Hardy the advantage of quickly shaping out his characters and scenes; they become endowed with life the moment they appear on the stage. The characters introduce themselves by their physical appearances and the stage. The characters introduce themselves by their physical appearance and the qualility of their dress; we feel that we are familiar with them. By adopting such a means of presentation, the writer wins the reader’s confidence. One cannot argue with what one sees or hear. The reader becomes under the illusion that every thing is almost real:
Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears. His eyes were reduced to chinks and diverging wrinkles appeared round them extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun(41).
Detailed descriptions, with the aid of sound and colour and emotional associations, are not presented for the sake of aesthetic appreciation only, but they also have their emotional effect on the intellectual element as well. Hardy appears through these senses as an intellectual poet.
There is a noticeable change in the attitude of hardy towards nature throughout his novels. Natural scenery dominates in some and diminishes in others. Under the Green Wood Tree is an early novel in which the natural scenery is delicate and beautiful, but not rich in colouring is also weak. It starts with:” To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its features”. But this statement is not proved after words. The characters do not respond very much to the beauty of nature, they never comment on it; we all the time watch with the author what he points out for us, but we do not share the feelings of the characters, a defect which hardy overcomes in his later novels.
Far from the Madding Crowd is the most colorful of the novels; long passages of detailed natural descriptions dominate, and we pass through a great aesthetic experience in reading it. Although the story is tragic, yet, the general atmosphere of the book is lively and bright. The characters are never separated from there surroundings; we watch the changing of the moods of nature along with them. The colors introduced are strong and intense, whether they are bright or dark; we shift from the bright to the dark, from darkness to light and feel the variety with great exultation. Here is a typical scene from the book in which light and a wide range of colors are displayed in astonishing harmony
The sheep–washing pool was perfectly circular basin in brickwork in the meadows, full of clearest water. The birds on the wing, its glossy surface reflecting the light; sky must have been visible for miles around as a glistening Cyclops eye in a a green face. The grass about the margin at this season was a sight to remember long; its activity in sucking the damp moisture was almost a process observable by the eye. To the north of the mead were the trees, the leaves of which were new, soft and moist, not yet having stiffened and darkened under summer sun and drought; their colour being yellow beside green, green beside yellow. From the recesses of the knot of foliage, the loud notes of three cuckoos were resounding through the still air(42).
The Woodlands contrasts with Far from the Madding Crowd in having a relaxed atmosphere full of humid air and pale colors. Grey and pale green are its shades; the beauty of the Hintock Woods is conveyed by the reverberating sounds which ring the note of sadness through out the novel. The characters are wrought into nature, especially Giles and Marty. Here we have the opinion of Hardy stressed very markedly: his call for the return to nature. He justifies his opinion by introducing two kinds of characters contrasting with each other and letting Grace Swing between them; the result is given implicitly by the choice of Grace and the tragic end of Giles.
The sad note of The Woodlanders embodies Hardy,s mature comment on life which is reiterated afterwards in Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure.
After the luxuriance of Far of the Madding Crowd, Hardy comes out with the somber The Return of the Native. The new atmosphere is ascetic; nature wears a very drab look; we almost come to believe that by the process of time, Hardy has given up gaiety and youthful beauty for sad and thoughtful grandeur. But his later works prove that the love of bright colours remained always in him; the change that happened was only in his attitude towards them. Bright colours came to remind him of the irony of life, the paradox of its aspects as is shown in The Trumpet Major.
The Trumpet Major is a novel of bright colours, most of the incidents of which take place under the shining sun. The atmosphere contrasts with the tragic fate of the protagonist. It is noticeable that Hardy here handles bright colours with bitter irony. From now on, the aesthetic element in Hardy is tinged with tragic colouring; he has lost the pure gaiety of Under the Green Wood Tree and the great exultation which triumphed over the tragic element in Far from the Madding Crowd.
The Return of the Native proves that Hardy,s indulgence in detailed colourful and acoustic descriptions depends upon the subject matter of his novel. The greater the problem of human fate is, the less important sheer beauty becomes to him. The book is void of exquisite descriptions; the brown heath is a severe background, it is in tune with Clym,s mood, but it contrasts with Eustathia,s and accordingly, the tragic intensity is heightened.
The Mayor of Casterbridge reveals this point very clearly; it is the only novel of Hardy,s which deals with one important character, and it turns out to be the poorest in sound and colour. So is it with Jude the Obscure, but is still carried further. A great deal of the incidents takes place in town and therefore, natural descriptions are scarce; they do not fit with the intensity of the subject. The problem of character and fate becomes so important that sheer delight has no place in such a tragic atmosphere.
By the process of time, Hardy becomes more interested in social and intellectual problems; a humanistic attitude triumphs over love of nature. Tess of the D’Urbervilles is rich in descriptive scenes on which sound and colour have a strong hold. In this novel, hardy solves the problem of nature and gives a convincing answer to his previous inconsistent attitudes by reconciling nature with human beings. He states that” we colour according to our moods”(43) and that nature is but a psychological phenomenon”(44). Whenever Tess is hopeful and in high spirits, nature is depicted at its gayest; Talbothey,s dairy stands for Tess,s happiest period of life; Flincomb-ash farm is a dreary place to which Tess retires in her most miserable condition. Here we see that nature becomes a symbol for the changing moods of human beings; colourful spring coincides with happy times, winter with miseries, and the sun shines when Tess laughs, nature rages with the death of Eustathia.
We notice that the symbols of Hardy are primitive and trite; but what elevates Hardy from being a common place writer is his original way of tackling these simple occurrences. He charges them with everlasting passion and links the external phenomena with the internal human feelings by making the characters respond to the external effect. If the characters are unconscious of the process of nature, the effect of such correlation would be trivial: Eustacia is miserable not only because of the frustration of her hopes, she refuses to yield to Wildeve, her pride rages to such a degree that nature becomes infected by her fury and when she drowns her self, it is by the help of nature which intensifies her feelings and works on her nerves mercilessly(45).
The similes and metaphors which abound in the novels of Hardy, reveal a peculiar imagination that always tends towards strange and striking associations; these associations intensify and strengthen the effect required:
His sudden appearance was to darkness what the sound of trumpet is to silence (46).
…..the wet bucket appeared about two yards below them like a dead friend come to life again (47)
Side by side with these original similes, we some times meet with hackneyed ones
From these embers, no appreciable beams radiated except when more than usually mart gusts brushed their faces and raised a fitful glow which came and went like the blush of a girl(48).
But such similes are few and might be unnoticed beside the brilliancy of the” velvety air of a July night(49)” and the “bleared white face of a sunless winter(50)”.
We may conclude from the imagery of Hardy that he is a great humanist; his imagination is soaked with humanistic moods and attitudes and situations. Accordingly, he sees every thing in its relation to them. He is a lover of nature, but nature does not appeal to him as a being in it self; it is important dear to him as long as it explains and consoles human beings; and thus Hardy faces the problem of humanity courageously and tries and tries a mode of living which is supposed to lessen the miseries of human beings and reconcile them with the universe.
Hardy is a popular writer. Perhaps the cause of this popularity is his ability to blend his humanistic and intellectual attitudes with his aesthetic appreciation> His stories might be forgotten, his intellectual material might become out of date, but his natural scenery with its luscious language secure his popularity for ever.
Having seen hardy the poet through his prose, we may have a glimpse of him through his poetry. He is a lyrical poet first and last; his lyrics reveal a strong passion and do always convey a comment on life or a personal impression; they are more explicitly philosophical than his prose(51). Simplicity in expression is the chief characteristic of his poetry; sound, colour and imagery have a very small place in it, an aspect which contrasts sharply with his prose.
Portrayal of situations predominates, the intensified emotions by which a situation is charged compensates for the descriptive element in these poems. But some times, hardy becomes too prosaic, especially in his dialogue-poetry, to achieve any poetic intensity(52) .
Still, colour as a suggestive element, finds way to his poetry:
I looked upon her gown
Once rose, now earthen brown
The change was like the knell
A pond “edged with grayish leaves”(54), gives him the feeling of despair and reminds him of a lost love. Still, more impressive is:
“I mark the months in liveries dank and dry”(55).