What were the major influences on Thomas Hardy's life and work?

Essay by somastrokesA-, March 2003

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What becomes apparent from researching Thomas Hardy's life is the multitude of experiences and influences that may have had some bearing on how he wrote and the content of these works. Obviously, his early life in Dorset and the bearing upon which this had on his early works is apparent through vivid descriptions and the recounting of certain episodes - so much so that it is impossible to ignore the inspiration that he derived from his birthplace. For example, the portrayal of the heath in 'The Return Of The Native' is the work of a man clearly saturated by his environment.

Hardy's flirtation with the clergy during his early years, and his subsequent disillusionment, may also have been significant to his writings in the capacity of spiritual development and advancement. It seems that his temporary abandonment of the countryside in favour of the city and it's hectic lifestyle, along with his rejection of religion, represents a man moving away in search of new inspirations and passions to indulge - which he most certainly did if accounts of his private life are to be believed.

With the introduction of Emma Guifford into his life and the qualities that she possessed - strength, vivacity and vitality, Hardy was perhaps more settled having found a muse and someone with whom he could share ideas, reflect and ruminate with. Dare I say that perhaps his love for this woman masked a Freudian desire to rediscover his mother's strength of character and resourcefulness? After all, both women had married well beneath their social class yet found it in them to make use of their well-educated backgrounds.

Seeing as how Hardy trained as an architect, on reading his work one can detect a discernible acknowledgement of structure and form in which he creates...