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Committee on Thesis

The undersigned, acting as a Committee

of the Graduate School, have read the accompanying

thesis submitted by Dora Ve.l~ntin~ Smith

for the degree of aster of Arts.

They approve it as a thesis meeting he require-

ments of the Graduate School of the University of

Minnesota, and recommend that it be accepted in

partial fulfillment of the requi ements for the

degree of Jaster of Arts.

• : : 4 • ... : •• f:·. ~': •. : I tt• cc ' IC •c Cc ! t f f c- t .t t t r I I

•ti_, , ., c t ,, • f t I

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Committee on Examination

This is to certify that we the

undersigned, as a committee of the Graduate

School, have given Dora VnJAntjne Smith

final oral examination for the degree of

Master of Arts We recommend that the

degree of Master of Art be conferred

upon the candidate.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

·······~·q····-········ 191(

-···~·-········~--~·-'.······-·-···· ··· ·


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A Study of the Use of Accident in the Novels

of Thomas Hardy with an effort to determine

its relative importance in the plot from the

first novel to the last.

A thesis

submitted to the

aculty of the Graduate School

of the

University of nnesota.


Dora V. Smith . In partial fulfillment

of the requirements

for the degree of

ster of Arts


1 9 1 9

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N o t e.

All page references to the novels of Hardy are to the pages

of Harpers' edition. In the notes the novels are referred to by

the first letter of each word in the title for the sake of brevi-


Critical works referred to are mentioned by author only .

They are as follo1s:

F. A. Hedgco*ck - Thomas Hardy . Penseur et Artiste. Ha ·chette

et Cie, Paris 1910.

H. C. Duffin Thomas Hardy - A Study of the essex Novels -

Longmans,· Green, . Y. 1916.

Laecelles Abercrombie - Thomas Hardy - A Critical Study - Lon­

don 1912.

Lionel Johnson - The Art of Thomas Hardy - Dodd, ead , & Co.


Annie Macdorell- Thomas Hardy - London, 1894.

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The Use of Accident in the Novels


Thomas Hardy.

Table of Contents.

I. Generally accepted opinions on the subject .

II. Definition of terms .

1. Accident

2. Coincidence

III. Kinds of Accident.

A. Accident as a plot force .

1. Convergence of the twain .

2. Large general accident.

3. Clear-cut accident changing the course of

the plot.

4. Small accident at the opening of the novel.

5. Minor accidents (general).

6. Wrong License.

7. issing of a train .

8. Overhearing a conversation.

9. :Bo cl i. L.!J accident.

10. Disease

11. Death

12. Sudden appearance or disappearance.

13. Storms.

B. Accident as an Artistic Device.

l. Storms

2. Minor accidents for effect.

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4. Minor ironies

5. Premonito~ scenes

6. Coincidence for symbolic effect

7. Coincidence based on super~t1t ions.

a. Dreams and Visions

b. Ill-omens.

8. Coincidental use of songs and stories.

c. The welding of the artiatio and the plot accidents.

IV. Freguency of occurrence of accident as indicative of its

relative importance in the novels.

V. The Relative Importance of Accident traced thru the Novels.

1. Desperate Remedies 1871

2. Under the Greenwood Tree 1872

3. Pair of Blue Eyes 1873

4. Far from the Madding Crowd 1874

5. The Hand of Ethelberta 1876

6. The Return of the Native 1878

7. The Trumpet Major 1880

8. The Laodioean 1881

9. (Two on a Tower 1882 (

10. (The Well-Beloved 1892

11. Mayor of Casterbridge 1886

12. The Woodlanders 1887

13 . Tess of the D'Urbervilles 1891

14. Jude the Obscure 1895

Vi. Summary and Conclusi.on.

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I. Generally accepted opinions on the subject.

There is but one point on which the casual critics of Hardy

never fail to agree, and that is the overwhelming predominance of

the operation of Chance or Destiny in the processes of the plot and

of the delineation of character in the novels which he has produced.

One is appalled by the ease and glibness with which he is accorded

without question the position of chief wire-puller for the puppets

of his stage. So self-evident does his mechanism appear that few

writers deem it necessary to quote for their readers the simplest

evidence in the case. Let us notice, for instance, the all-inclus-

ive character of the following passage from DeCasseras.

1"Hardy's characters, especially his women, are the mere play-

things of an inscrutable Fate; fine instruments on which Destiny,

in her infinite sweeps, pipes a major or a minor and then flings to

the cosmic rubbish heap. Neither Hardy nor Sophocles has formu-

lated a theory of causation. Life is a series of accidental rela-

tions; effects proceed from causes not because this cause must pro­

duce that effect, but because the gods have willed that this or tha sup-oli ed is the

shall come to pass." Chief of the examples

Mayor of C asterbridgeJ "whom," he declares, "the furies i· k of 2

p.lace and power, roll in the dust, and lash into shreds. 11

On the other hand there are those who, tho friendly critics

of the author, recognize the fault and attempt to justify him in it

1Bookman, vol. 16, pp. 131-132. -----2w. E. Hodgson in his article, "A Prig in the Elysian Fields, 11

(Natl. Rev. vol. 19, p. 193) t"ra c.es the effect of destiny even ~ne future life of the characters. Clare is made to remark, "Altho we have divested ourselves of our dramatic finitude, and are no longer under the determinism conditioned by our creator's artistic needs, we retain our essential characters, and that's a


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Even Duffin, whose book on Hardy presents many admirable oualities - ,

is guilty of the following generalization:

1"Coincidence is so frequent in Hardy that there is some danger

of its being regarded as a mannerism, or even as a pusillanimous de­

vice for bringing about the crisis or denouement. The method is,

however, quite deliberately employed, and is well-rooted in Hardy's

philosophy. The vast web of existence that encompasses the world is

hopelessly inextricable to the eyes of the bewildered beings who

struggle along its threads. But it is the privilege of a few great

readers of the Book of Life to be raised to a position whence the

view is more comprehensive, whence the junctions and crossings and

interweavings of the web become clear and explicable. The view once

obtained, the ~rtist must of necessity record it in his work and i~

the result is marvelous in our eyes, it is because we are earth-folk

- have never sat in the skies of life. Shakespeare chooses to de-

pict converging lines; Hardy prefers lines that cut, the one as

giving an effect of inevitability, the other as making for the irony

that is the breath of his being. His coincidences are not forced -

they are al"ays explicable, and sometimes explained; nor are they so

amazing as to be tncredible, except in cases like the fall of the

tower, when the action has reached a point of tragic intensity at

nhich all things are possible, such wizard-lire hanpenings being al­

so in consonance with that unearthly use of the marvelous which I

have described as peculiarly Hardian."

such generalizations fail to give the tr th of the situation

for several reasons. In the first place, they do not recognize the

possibility of change in the writer's methods from his first novel

to his last or from the novels of an evident seriousness of purpose

1 H. C. Duffin. Tho~as J:!ardy - A Stud~ of the .Vessex Novels p. 46. ---·----- -- ---

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to those written avowedly for purposes of amu.sem*nt and entertain­

ment. Again they fail to take into account the type of accident in­

volved, its degree of probability, and the relative importance of it

place in the novel compared with that of character and other plot

forces. And lastly, they do not take into consideration the nature

of the author's intrusion of the accident - whether, for instance,

it is carefully work,ed out for realistic effect, or simply hurled

into the story for the deliberate purpose of thwarting the action.

All of these considerations, it will be evident at thP close of this

study, greatly modify any statements in regard to the use of acci­

dent in the novels of Thomas Hardy.

II. Definition of Terms.

1. Accident.

In order to clarify the discussion it will be well to

define at the outset the meaning of the term accident as used thru­

out this paper . 1scientifically spea1ring, we recognize that there

is no such thing as accident in the universe; but very frequently

there occur happenings for which we, as humanly intelligent beings,

oan find no cauae in the natural course of events which have pre­

ceded them· 2n hen we cannot trace the causative connections which

have brought about an event, we say it is due to Chance." ~or in­

stance, to use Mr. Palmer's example, the Spanish Armada, sailing up

the coast of England, was destroyed by a storm. Therefore we read

in history that the liberties of England were saved by Chance. In

other words we find no cause in the natural order of military or

political preparations for the destruction of the Spanish fleet,

but must look for it thru the intrus i on of an outer force exterior

1This discussion of accident follows thruout; the explanation of G. H. Palmer in his book Freedom of the ¥ill np. 130-140.

2 p. 132.

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to the forces of battle, and unexplainable by the~.

In the development of a novel, therefore, any incident or ef­

fect may be considered the result of an accident if its cause can­

not be traced to the forces set at work in the action of the plot

nor to the inherent character of its personages. It must be recog­

nized that the degree of probability of such accidents is greatly

modi fied by the methods of the writer in introducing them. They

may be arbitrarily introduced by him without explanation, or he may

seek carefully to conceal his method by prolonged elaboration of the

natural causes of such forces from without .

2. Coincidence.

One of the types of accident most commonly used in the 1

movels of Hardy is coincidence. This may be defined as the un-

foreseen concurrence of two sets of motions at a given point . A man

hurls a stone at a mark. A bird flies toward a tree. The two inter-

sect and the bird is killed. ho is to blame? The accident is

clearly in the unforeseen concurrence of the two motions, neither

bearing any relation to the other until chance caused theircollisio~

It is with the juxtaposition and collision of such tran%-erse forces

that Hardy's Chance is most often concerned, and by which, to be

sure, the ordinary course of human existence is most commonly in-

ter fered with. The most striking expression of this view of existence is to

be found in Hardy's own words in the poem, 11 Convergence of the

T'Wainn, in his volume, "Satires of Circ*mstance 11 • published in 1915 .

Its importance in this connection warrants our quoting it in full:

1see Palmer - note l; p. B.

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1 "Convergence of the Twain"


"Lines on the Loss of the Titanic."


"In a solitude of the sea

Deep from human vanity,

And the Pride of Life that planned her

stilly couches she.


"Steel chambers, late the pyres

Of her salamandrine fires,

Cold currents thrid, and turn to

rhythmic tidal lyres.


"Over the mirrors meant

To glass the opulent

The sea-worm crawls - grotesque,

slimed, dumb, indifferent.


"Jewels in joy designed

To ravish the sensuous mind

Lie lightless, all their sparkles

bleared and blac and blind.


"Dim moon-eyed fishes near

Gaze at the gilded gear

And query; ' hat does this vain-

gloriousness down here?

Seep. 9, ~_?.tires of Circ*mstance." 1

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" ell: while was fashioning

This creature of cleaving wing,

The Immanent ill that stirs

And urges everything


"Prepared a sinister mate

or her - so gaily great. -

A Shape of Ice, for the time far

And dissociate.


"And as the smart ship grew

In stature, grace, and hue,

In shadowy silent distance

grew the Iceberg too.


"Alien they seemed to be:

No morta~ eye could see

The ultimate weldin of their

later history.


"Or sign that they were bent

By paths coincident

On bein anon twin halves

Of one august event,


"Till the Spinner of the Years

Said tlow ~' And each one hears,

And consummation comes, and

jars two hemispheres."

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III. Kinds of Accident in Ha.rdyrs Novels.

A. Accident as a Plot Force.

1. Convergence of two forces.

Bearing in mind the awful power of the sinister

convergence of forces in the last three stanzas, we are ready to con

sider the first of the many kinds of accident introduced into the

novels of Hardy, namely, those co cidences in which two or more

sinister forces, operating thru extended portions of the novel, are

deliberately planned to move gradually but surely toward fatal in­

tersection. The author, standing off at a distance, seems deliber­

ately to marshal his forces for their final catastrophic collision.

This force appears only in the early novels. In Desperate Remedies

we find Manston driving swiftly toward the Carriford Road Station

with mingled thoughts of Knapwater Old House and its changed condi­

tions due to the return of his 1 'now eclipsed wi e." At length

his eye' are arrested by the yellow flame of fire rising soreewhere

between ca.rriford Road Station and the village. Then enters Hardy,

his heart set on the 11 convergence of the t ain. 1 2"The self-same

glare had just arrested the eyes of another man. He was at that

minute gliding along several miles to the east of the ste ard's

position, but nearing the same point as that to which anston tend­

ed. The younger Edward Springrove was returning from ~ondon to nis

father's house by the identical train whic. the st ~a.rd 1as exnect­

ing to bring his wife." Here the t o men whose fates, together

with that of c· therea Graye_, are most closely bound un in the results

of the yellov flame of fire are moving slowly but surely to a.rd each

other ~ith inevitably convergin destinies.

R.' p. 208 .

R.' pp. 209-10.

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Even more striking is the situation of 1Knight and Smith, each

darkly jealous of the other's love for Elfride, riding down together

on the train to Endlestowe, while behind them comes the carriage of

somber, grand aspect, bearing the dead body of one whose life has

been so inextricably interwoven with their own. Unwittingly they

ride to their sinister awakening when they are to find engraved upon

her tomb the telling inscript~on - "Elfride - ilife of Spenser Hugo

Luxellian." 2

Less awe-inspiring because more ridiculous in the evident me-

chanical quality of the interventions to it is the desperate drive 3 of Mr . Chickerel vtd1i Julian, and Sol with ountclere' s brother, as

they race to Kn.ollsea to stop the marriage of Ethelberta at which

they arrive only five minutes late. 4

A like contrivance, tho one slightly different in its causes,

is found in the preparations for the party at Boldwood's on Christ­

mas night. 5 Bathsheba, Boldwood, Troy, and Oak, all make ready for

the same party, each oblivious of the pre arations of the others so

ominous in their later confluence. Altho no accidental force is at

wor' here, each is acted upon by an impelling power which he could

in no way foresee in his own preparations and hich determinesthe

entire future of all concerned. Hard obviously orks to increase

6 this effect by naming the chapters, "Converging Courses" and "Con-

curritur-Horae omento . " "Converging Courses" is further divided

1 P. B. E. , p . 436. 2 entioned by Lionel Johnson, Art of Thomas Hardy. p . 61 .

See also Duffin, pp . 45 and ll<f. - - --3 T~!.-of E, , p . 422.

4 entioned by Lionel Johnson. p . 60.

5 _F . ~ C • , p • 404 .

6 I bid Ch . LIII .

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into Roman numeral divisions which m~ be listed according to their


dressing for the event." 3

IV. "Troy was sitting in a small tavern at Casterbridge." hour."

Surely there was no power inherent in the characters the?IEelves to

stop their converging destinies at this hour.

2. Large general coincidence used as basis of novel.

The second type of accident comprises the big general co­

incidence forming the basis for the whole story. In Desperate Reme-

dies, for instance, the whole story is based upon the coincidence of

the situation of Cytherea the Second, who, thru no knowledge or in­

tent of her own, discovers herself hired to Cytherea the First in

the vicinity of Springrove's home and within a stone's throw of iss

Hinton, to whom he is engaged. The coming of anston to A?lapwater

Old House still further augments the difficulty of her position.

InAPair of Blue Eyes one finds a somewhat similar situation. Smith,

the architect lover of Elfrida, turns out to be the son of a cot­

tager on Lord LuxeJlian's estate. His honored tutor, Knight, who is

also the nephew of the second .Mrs. Swanoourt, becomes the reviewer

of Elfrida's rooance, and rival to Smith in the affections of the

heroine. This arrangement, however, may be justified on the grounds

of plot construction, as a sirr.ple matter of dramatic economy, being,

nlike the relations between the two Cythereas, and Springrove and 4

anston, entirely plausible on that ground. A similar case can be

~ade out for the plot of the ell-Beloved, where Jocelyn, having

\, M. C., p. 423. 2 Ibid., p. 424.

3rbid., p. 427. 4- --Duffin, p. 45, considers this entirely coincidence.


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left Avice I to pursue Marcia, is later rejected by Avice III in

pursuit of Marcia's son, Lev.rre. This, however, more closely re­

sembles coincidence, being rather obviously an arrangement. for poet­

ic justice on the part of the author of a well-balanced plot.

3. Clear-cut accident changing the course of the story.

Next we may consider Hardy's use of a manifest accident 1

to change the course of the story. In Two on a Tower, for example

the lash of her brother's whip scars the face of Lady Constantine

whila she stands with her husband on the station platform. This

necessitates their retiral to the tower for three days until the

mark has disappeared. It is their conjugal relations at this time

which turn the whole course of the story, leading irectly to her 2

inevitable marriage with the Bishop. Again it is the fire which,

tho carefully worked out in detail froa natural causes of the three

preceding days, effects the disappearance of Mrs. anston, and com­

plicates the future of Cytherea and Springrove. One of the finest 3

instances of this in all Hardy is that of Venn's unwitting surren-

der of the whole sum of money won from ildeve into the hands of

Thamasin, thus causing still greater distress in the misunderstand­

ing between Mrs. Yeobright, Clym, and Eustacia.

Sometimes it is a very slight accident hich so turns the 4

course of events. The delay of Joseph Poorgrass at the inn and

his forgetting of the burial certificate necessitated the postpon­

ing of the funeral of ~anny so that the body had to be carried to

the home of B~thsheba for the night. It may be argued that the

1 149. Hedgeco*ck, 142. T. on T., p. see p.

2D. R •• p. 201. 3 R. of N., p. 290. See Abercrombie, p. 104.

4F. M. c., p. 332.

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character of Poprgrass was behind the accident; yet the character of

so minor a personage may play a part akin to accident as regards the

major personages of the novel.

Two other chance occurrences which impress one in this connec-1

tion are the failure of arrival of the letters of Clym to Eustacia

and of 2Tess to Clare. In the case of the former one feels that

possibly the forces already at work in the plot were too strong to

be af f ected so late in the story; but that of Tess could unquestion-3

ably have changed the whole course of events.

4. The small accident at the beginning of the story.

The small accident at the opening of the story may be

distinguished from the others in that it helps to create the web of

tissue in the story rather than intruding upon it as the others do. 4 .

Two well-known examples are the destruction of Oak's flock by the

young dog, an accident which necessitated his hiring out to someone 5

(to Bathsheba as the fire decreed} and the killing of Prince in

the highway accident ~hich involved Tess' visit to the Stoke-D' Ur­' 6

bervilles. This must, of course, be considered the suark which

set the conflagration burning, as distinguished from the smoulder-7

ing causes beneath.

1 R. of N. , p. 438. See also Hedgeco*ck, p. 134.

2Tess, p. 240. See also Duffin, p. 49.

3A much greater degree of probability is evident in the last of these accidents, but the discussion of that topic will be o­mitted until later.

4F. • C., p. 42.

5Tess, p, 32. 6Abercrombie, p.38,tends to give almost too much importance

to incidents of this kind. entioned also by Duffin, ~. 49. 71Jayor of Casterbridge,p.44, Farfrae arrives to hear the may

or say he can't make bad wheat wholesome. nHad his advent not coincided with the discussion on corn and bread this history ha never been enacted. " ' boat I~ eJ.l ]3_eloved p. 30. Jocelyn and arcia meet under the

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5. Thiner Accidents (general).

Minor accidents occur fr.equently within the story, such as i 2

Fanny's mistaking All S~uls' for All Saints' church, Elfride and

her father departing on the same night to be married, the preoccupa­

tion of each rendering easy the undetected escape of the other, and 3 the storm's overflowing above Fanny's grave, the Gargoyles which

hadn't overflowed for years. 4

1 F. M. C., p. 131. 2--

P. B. E., p. 141. See Hedgeco*ck, p. 109.

3 F. . C. , p. 371. "For several years." says Hardy, "the stream11ad not spouted so far from the tower as it was doing on this night, and such a contingency had been overlooked."

4 Other instances are:

H. of E., p. 168. Ethelberta meets Ladywell at the door and receives a gift from him, as Kit believes. In reality it was merely her note-book and she had been waiting at the front door for Kit himself.

~. • C., p. 24. Gabriel leaves the slides to the hut closed. Bathsheba happens to pass by (she will be gone the next week) and saves him fro m suffocation.

Ibid., p. 116. Boldwood ponders over Bathsheba's valen-tine when the postman brings ~anny's letter b i stake.

Laodicean, p. 144. Dare finds Havill's note containin the draft of his letter abusing ~iss Power.

Ibid., p. 176. Somerset after being.warned by th~ police that someone has been in his study, gives Dare's picture to DeStancey to deliver to the police.

Other m~nor accidents are listed as follows:

Des~~rate Remedies !°ail.: il B1 u e .r.;yes Hand of Ethelberta Laodicean Tb.e ayor of Casterbridge The oodlanders The ell-Beloved The Trumpet Major Far from the adding Crowd TWO ori a Tower Tess i5I the D'Urbervilles Tlle Return of the atrve-_____

* All extremely probable.

7 6

14 6 3 6 5 5 * 6 * 9 4 * 2 *

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6. Wrong Marriage License.

Certain types of minor accident occur with enough frequen-

cy to merit being placed in categories by themselves. One of these

is the securing of the marriage license for the wrong town, which

has its effect upon the 2

1 future of Smith and Elfride as well as g

Thomasin and Wildeve . Jocelyn also has a delay over the marriage

license because he and Marcia are non-residents. Meanwhile her

father refuses his consent and she returns to her Jersey lover.

7. _Missing of train or boat. 4 I

rt is the missing of a train which detains Owen at the

Gatehouse to hear the story of the First Cytherea,and which necessi-

5 tates Sue's remaining for the night with Jude at the shepherd's

cottage to be plunged into disgrace at the Training School from

which she is saved only a~ the expense of marrying Phillotson.

6 Again it is the missing of the boat carrying s ithin to the eape

7 which seals the fate of Lady Constantine. Furthermore.nothing

is more important in Desperate Remedies than anston's failure to

meet his ife thru a mistake in reading the time-table. 8

1P. B. E., p. 129. 2 R. of N. p. 49.

3 well-Beloved, p. 70.

4 D. R., p. 37. 5 -_ Jude, p. 163.

'n. 19-6 R._, p.

BT. on T. , p. 290. 8n. R. p. 32. Owen's missing the boat on the excursion

throWS-Cytherea on Springrove when the boat carries them off together. D. R. p. 308. The 4:45 express is turned back by the frost-on the rails. Springrove catches it and arrives before the t elegra.m.

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.. 14.

8. Overhearing of conversations.

The device of the overhearing of conversations so common

in Shakespearean drama finds a place in the novels of Hardy. 1Mrs.

Manston hears from the hedge the conversation between owen and Cy­

therea concerning their father's relations with Miss Aldclyffe. 2 Jude, again, overhears the friends of Arabella as they discuss her

3 scheme to marry him. Ethelberta•s father, as butler,is placed per-

m•ntently in a position for overhearing. 4

9. Bod i lff Accident.

Bod.. I "!} ace i dent plays a part in 5 The Woad landers, emiecial ~ ly in the case of Fitzpiers whose accident calls to his bedside the

6 three women with whom he is so closely connected. Likewise Mrs.

Charmond's accident calls Fitzpiers to her, thereby rene ing their

1 D. R., p. 176.

2~. p. 74. 3

H. of E., .. 4 Other such instances play little part in the plots in which

they occur. H. of E. , . p. 205. In the Art Gallery Ethelberta over­

hears the remark that Neigh means to marry her.

Ibid., p. 266. Picotee overhears eigh tell the story of Ethelberta 1 s visit to his estate.

R. of N., p. 130. Eustacia hears her name coupled with Clym's at his first appearance.

Laodicean, p. 138. Dare and Havill overhear uomerset's proposal to Paula in the tent.

M. of c., p. 121. A child (same principle) tells Henchar people prefer frae to him.

Tess, p. 253. Tess overhears the story of arian's drink ing and Hetty's attempt to drown herself and resolves to confess. However, she would proba ly have done so anyway.

6 w. p' 257. 6-:-:

' • ' p .183.

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l former acquaintance in GermaJJY. Anne in The Trumpet ajor is also

hurt in the cart accident while in flight from Napoleon's men. This

leads to her molestation by Festus at the hut.

10. Disease.

Closely akin to bod. i J. .!:J accident is disease, which operates

in Desperate Remedies where 2owen's illness compels therea to ac­

cept Manston. The rapidity with which he recovers after the mar­

riage leads one to suspect that it was the author's device rather 3 than a growing physical weakness. Clym's sudden blindness becomes

an evil force in his career. 4It is Clare's illness in Brazil hi ch

5 converts him. Leverre's illness tho of short duration,

necessitates his remaining all night with Avice III and precipitates

th . . 6 eir marriage.

1 T ~ .• p. 245.

2 D • R • , p • 2 88 •

3 R.of N., p. 323.

4Tess, p. 391. 5 ell-Beloved, p. 302.

6That Hardy considers disease such as this an accident is cl ear in the case of Lady ConstantinE! s des ire to get rid of her maid on the day of the wedding, when the child falls 111 and the maid is called home. "Chance " says Hardy, nunexpect edly helped her in this difficulty. T. o:Ji T. , p. 134.

Other instances are: P.B.E.,p.14. Gout keeps Pa~son swan.court in bed BO that

Elfrida and Smith meet alone at supper. Laodicea.n, p.404. Charlotte's illness on the continent

keeps Paula and DeStancy together. Jude, p. 208. Aunt Drusilla's illness offers an excuse

for-tlie later meetings of Jude and Sue after her marriage. The illnesses of South and John Durbeyfield in The ood­

landers and Tess are omitted from the category because~ amply explained by the author as of long duration and the result of growing physical defects.

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11. Death.

The sudden intrusion of death into the web of the story is

shown in the case of 1the death of SWithin's uncle in Two on a Tower ~

the news of the legacy and its conditions arrives two hours be-

ore his marriage with the fobbidden woman. 2Arabella's husband dies

the moment when her return would most affect the guilty con-3 of sue. Havill'e wife,also dies at the moment when confession,

eans moat to the hero's happiness. 4The sudden death of the Bishop

ikewise prepares for Swithin's return. All these occur as mere me­

devices, the deceased, with the exception of the Bishop, ap­

for the first time to influence the plot by his death.5 7. .

The misunderstandings about the death of 6Troy and SirBloun


rxe poorly worked out, taxing the credulity of the reader to an ex­

l~ent Which Hardy would later have avoided caref'ully.

1 T. on T., p. 139 2 Jude, p. 370 . 3 Laodicean, p. 227. 4 T. on T., p. 320.

5 Other instances occur: Laodician, p. 227. Sir illiam's death causes Paula

to accept DeStancey. Two on a Tower,p. 88. Sir Blount's death releases

Lady Constantine. The ell-Beloved, p. 228. The husband of Avice II is

killed in the Quarry, p. 120. Avice I's death causes Jocelyn's return to meet Avioe II.

The deaths of !lrs. Henchard, ( :of c. ) South ( . ) and John Durbeyfie d (T.) are omittecr--?Or- reasons expiained in n. 6 , p. 15 • -

The three deaths in the first chapter of The Hand o! Ethelberta while they change the f'uture of the Hero1nei enter oefore the eb of the story is forme ang for.thav reason cannot be said to intrude in the sense 1n which the others do.

R. of N., p. 374. The death of Mrs.Yeobright is made extremely plausible thru her exhausted condition and the previous description of the wood.

; F. M. C., p. 384. T. on T

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· 12. Sudden or accidental appearance or disappearance of character

Similar to the category of deaths is that of the sudden or

ccidentaJ. appearance or disappearance of characters in the story as

he plot demands. The characters of 1Arabella and Father Time are

ases in point, as are 2Newsome in The ·ayor, 3Abner Eower in the La-4

dicean,and in Desperate Remedies, the porter who,after seeing Ilrs .

absconded and was drowned at sea,his secret goin down ith


13. Storms.

In two novels the plot is affected very lar ely by the ac­

idental intervention of storms. In 5The oodlanders Giles' death is

caused by ex osure to storm in the giv1ng up of his cottage to Grace. 6 In Two on a Tower, an instance even more to the point bee se actin

earlier in the story, the wedding schemes of Swithin and ady Con­

stantine are· interrupted by the storm which ta es t e dome from the

tower and the roof from nithin's cottage, dela in the eddin t o

eeks. This causes the meeting ith Lewis and his team, the chief

sinister force in the story. 7

;Jude, • See also Hedgeco*ck, p. 269 . ... . of c., p. 352 3LaocITcea.n, p. 288 4n. R. , p. 328.

5' • :;; • 306. 6T: on T., p. 123. See also Hedgeco*ck, p . 140. 7cythe;~a in Desperate Remedies (p.156) is detained b the

storm at nston's name: us making the acquaintance o the steward. See Hedgeco*ck p. 69.

u.G . T., p. 211 . A storm se~d ancy for shelter to the horn pf the so-called 1itch of Endorfield here she learns to sche~e a~ainst her father.

H. of E., p. 422. Storms hinder the rou s rushin to the marriaee scene, and keep Ethelbe~ta' weddin clothes from ar-riving by boat •

• • of c., p. 128. A storm ruins Henchard's celebration and ~arfrae gets the crowds; thus the ~yor's jealousy is augmented.

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18 .

B. Accident as an Artistic Device.

It is well to notice at this point that all of the accid­

ents thus far classified have been actual intrusions upon the forces

at work in the plot so that the denouement or lesser catastrophes

have been directly influenced by them. It is for this reason that

Hardy is accused by many of manipulating his scenes to suit the need

of his story and of creating characters powerless before a malevolen

Fate. But we :must remember constantly that accident is not always

introduced as a matter of plot force which is dictated by a given

philosophical bias. It may be used equally we 11 as a purely ar- 1

tistic device for er.eating an atmosphere or as an element workin

toward greater symmetry in the architectural scheme o the novel.

Such a use of it indicates the author's recognition of its purely

aesthetic value . rt is in his 111Profi table ea.ding of iction" that

Hardy discusses the study of literature for the aesthetic e ,nyment

of artistic construction, which, he declares, should be as evident

in writing as in painting or sculpture.

For that reason e m divide the accidents of Hardy's

novels into t o general roups: those affecting the plot and the

destinies of its characters, and those used or pur oses of artistic

presentation of material . It is per ectly possible that certain of

those already di scussed may be artistic devices also; but the ollo

ing categor ies have no definite influence in the orces of the plot .

1 . Storms .

The intrusion of storms, for example, may no be rther

considered as an artistic measure . In Desperate Remedies the ad­

ding of cyt herea and anston is greeted by the worst storm of the

l s ee The Forum, ~ar . 1888, vol . 5, p . 66.

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1 winter. "Is it the intention of ate," she thought, "that some-

thing. connected with these noises shall influence my fut ire as in 2 1

the last case of the kind?" Again, "I never c oulci have believed

it possible , 11 she thought, surveyin"' the bo ed-down branches, 'that

trees would bend so far out of their true positions without break­

ins." Truly e. sinister comment on her own future! The storm. ho1-

ever, does not delay the wedding; it simply spreads over it an at­

mosphere of sinister foreboding. This attitude, it ill be noted,

is not the old one of the pathetic allacy, in vhich ature is in

sympathy with man, but rather one in hicl ature assumes a a.rning,

antagonistic position.

Elfride, on her wa to Plymouth to meet mith, hesitates an

looks around her. 311 A large cloud that had been hangin in the nort

like a black fleece, came and placed itself be ween her and t e n.

It helped on what was already inevitable, and she an in o a uni­

formity of sadness . "

On the night of the Bishop's ro osal to d Constantine

4 n he very weather seemed to favor r. Helmsdale i his s it.

blusterous wind had blo n up from the est, ho li

chin:neys and suggestin to t e fem'nine mind sto

in the

at sea,



ing ocean, and the hopeless inaccessibilit ~ o ell astrono ers, a

1 D. ~ ...... . t p . 280. see also Hedgecoc , p. 69.

2she refers to the noises on the ni ht of · • Aldclyffe 1 s death (D •• • p . 110) 3-

P. B. ~ • • p. 127.

4 T . on T., p. 306.

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1 I?len on the other side of the same . ''

2rn Far from the Madding Crowd Hardy gives evidence of a still

more concentrated artistic eff ort in the use of the storm on t he

night of ~roy ' s revelry . Oak and Bathsheba together on the ricks,

with the lightning flashing about them, stand out in strong relief

showing not only the real bond between the two but the contrast be­

tween the characters here and the worthless debauchers on the barn

floor. Here the stor??l is not overpowering . In it two characters

are set in majestic relief before the sinister forces about them.

It is their triumph, not ature'a . The storm has brought into play

the best in them both.

1 F . M. c. p . 436. The night of Bold ood's party was the darkest ~ight in years. illia_ ~mallbury all but missed the plank over the river, and he ~never did such a thing in his life before . "

P . B. E. p . 131. A heavy rain falls as Elfride and Smith go by train from Plymouth to Paddington.

R. of N., p . 441. A terrible storm rages on the ni ht of the flight of Eustacia and Tildeve .

ell-Beloved , p . 279 . A storm ~eeps Pierston over ni ht on the evening he becomes en aged to Avice III.

Ibid . , p . 283 . Their weddin ..... .

The"J have a dull, a:y, fo y evenin for

Jude, p . 385 . Jude and Sue return to Christminster on a ra1ny day.

2 F . • C. , p . 29 •

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2. Minor accident for artistic effect.

Hardy is very fond of introducing minor accidents or co-l

ncidences for purely artistic effect. For example, Elfrida tries

between Smith and Knight when both the ear rings from

ight and the =200 from Smith are brought in to her to make more co

rete her decision in the matter. 2 3Knight again asks a branch of

mith's myrtle by which to remember her in his absence. 4smith, too,

made love to her on the grave of her first lover. 5 In Jude,also, Sue lies in bed watching the glowing light first

n the statues of Ventls and Apollo and then on the Cruoifix,represent

ng her life struggle. 6 Jude's7meeting with Arabell thru the toss- I ng of the pig's flesh and the later one with Sue in the midst of her

ngraving of Gothic designs ar fu:lic tive f their respective influ-8 life. The picture of Tess, an innocent victim on the

9 tonehenge altar, is also strikin~ in its sug est v ness.

3. Beu'Ble Happeni;g,gs.$~ i~ q;i ~l>lo happ•1fes so artificially introduced i toAP ir of

lue Eyes repr~~ot?:e~ry of accidents used for architect 11 ral effect. Elfrida, for instance, is rescued by Knight on the t

et, and she later rescues im on the cliff.

1 P. B. E. , p. 235.

2 entioned by Duffin 3 P.B.E., p. 353. See

as a premonit~ry scene. p . 50. also Duffin,p.45 .

See also Duffin,p.45. 4rbid, p. 87. ~Jude, p. 10.

entioned by Duffin, p.60, as a pre onition ace e. 7 Jude, p. 5 . 8 entioned by Duffin,p.60, as a pr€ onition scene. 9Tess, p . 452. See Hedgeco*ck, p. 227.

T.on ~ .,p.323.Swithin helps a child across the fence ho Iit1ir. -proves to be his own •

• p . 206. Giles caresses a flower at Grace's breast just as ~e had seen itzpiers do to s.Charmond,

10 It is evident that the double happenings might be introduced under plot eoually as well.

11 -~ .B. E., pp. 195-243.


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1 ~ The great cliff scenes lfride and Smith, and later

fride and Knight carry out this idea in ridiculous detail. Smith,

being no horseman, walks by the side of her horse. Knight, Who is

experienced in horsemsnship, for some whimsical reason, prefers to 2

walk be side her also. "A duplicate of her original arrangement

with Stephen," says Hardy. nsome fatality must be hanging over her

head." !he ear ring episode then follows, orking accident to the

3 nth degree, for "Only for a few minutes during the day did the sun

light thealcove to its innermost rifts and slits, but these were the

minutes now, and its level rey-s did. Elfrida the good or evil turn of ,

revealing the lost ornament." FTom then on .Knight was lost to her;

Smith was revenged. That Hardy was absolutely conscious of this de­

vice is evident from the conversation of Elfride and Kni nt after he

rescued her on the turret. 4 "'Promise me,' sey-s Knight, 'never to walk on that parapet

again.' 11

1"It will be pulled don soop;so I do.' In a fe min tes she

continued iL a lo er tone, and seriously, 'You are familiar of cours

as everybody is, 1ith those stran e sensations e sometimes have,

that our life for the moment exists in duplicate.''

" That we have lived through that mo :mt before?'"

n•or shall again. ell, I felt on the tower that something

similar to that scene is a.gai to be common to us both.'"

"'God forbid!' aid Knight. 'That s ch hin has not been be-

fore, 'le kno . Tha it shall not be ag in, you vo • her ef ore think

ic makes u perfectl no more of such a foolish fancy.'" All of

lp. 3 . E., pp. 366-368. 2 rbid, p. 366. 3Ibid, p . 367. see Hedgeco*ck, p.110 ; also Duffin, p. 45.

4Ibid, p . 195.

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23 .

sure that to Hardy ' s mind this is not a foolish fancy and that e

shall see a rep et it ion of the event .

A clear oase into which no possible philosophy could enter is

the fact that after the terrible events thru which they have passed , 1 Cytherea and Springrove go roWing together on a lake near the hous

a lake which seemingly was put there for the purpose, never having

been mentioned before, in order to remind themselves of the similar 2

rowing scenes of their d~s of love-making to ether .

Closely akin to this category is that of reversals of osi­

tions for effect, best exemplified in The Laodicean. DeStancy, ho

had been chased, becomes the chaser, as does Paula in the end

story. 3somerset had arrived at the ball to find her dancin ith

Stancy. 4she arrives at the ball to find omerset dancing ith an-

other .

1 D. R. , pp. 474 and 447.

2 Ibid, p . 54 . Springrove sn gests a barrier to their love as the first Cytherea had done to Gra.ye. P. B. E., p . 197 . Elfride plays c~es ith Smith ivin hi the game. She plays with Knight and can't ·n rom him. In this double happenin e see the entire counte t o her relations with the two men. Ibid, p . 454 . The lovers revisit the vault to nd Lord uxellian there buryin the last d uxellian as they had atched him bury the first. oodlanders, p . 311. Grace, findin ·1es ill, ta

to the cottage ith her . s . Charmond cei bruised itzpiers at Hintoc House. H sizes the duplication of circ*mstances fore this date a scene, al .ost simil r in its mechanic 1 parts, had been enacted at Hinto House. It w s be een pair of persons most intimately connected in their lives with these . outwardly like as it had been, it as yet in­finite in spiritual di erence thou h a o a.n's devotion had een coI.:lIIlon to both. 11 It is this ver s piritual di -ference which makes this inc·dent much more ithin the real of probability than that of es erate _emedies .

3Laodicean . p . 253 . 4rbid, p . 478 .

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24 .

4. Minor Ironies.

A fourth category of accidents for artistic effect may be con­

idered as inor Ironies . 1Smith, for instance, extols Knight to El­

ride. In the end Smith and Knight at the station discuss the black

arrie.ge as 2"light as vanity; full of nothing.' 3somerset, in he

aodicean discovers that the costumes which he has designed for his

ather are for the play in which De tancy ma es love to Paula. )/. Another irony such as those in which the earl pla rights de-

ighted is that '"'1hich 5Picotee and .... thelbe ta ex ol their lovers, bot

to be the same man. Again 6 eigh and ad 1ell con ide in on

thel-their anger at the rival who dares to make advances to 7

erta, neither realizin that his con idant is his opponent.

1 P. B. • , p . 57

2Ibid, p. 438. See 3Laodicean, p . 258.

Hedgeco*ck, p . 438.

4 • Beach. 5 H. of E. , p . 42. 6rbid . ,p. 231. ffi , p . 70, classi ·e this s rel

7P . B. E. , p . 221 . A Knight and El ride atch the stars in lan-, __ e sees one hich must shine on his fr d in Indi ,

onder if his love ·11 be ue .



Ibid., p. 154. mith as R'i:iight questions him as to e. er , " es . "

ight's advice bout goin to Indi hether hi love ill e t e

id . p . 201 . fter Kit ' s separation fro thelbert he and ·tn.'see the pictu e of thelberta and Lad ell, ith it ti re ell~ hou art too dear for my pos e in •

T ss , ~ · 253 .• e ' luggage is late, so she and Clare h in ~same ater a fe. hours before heir sepa.r tion. See Duf in p . 50 . Jude, p . 481 . Jude dies on e~embrance D hen the octors conferring honorary degrees on "the Du e of H ton ire a lot more illustrious oung gents of that sort .

P .• E. , p . 449 . he lovers, after learning o -a-"-s-=-.;...,..:...;;__!.u.xellio.n, return to • e~c ome Home Inn' . p .

lfride's eath ee Duf in,

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25 .

5 lp . . remon OT!f ..:icenes .

Premonitory ~cene~ of the natu e o coincidence are also com­

on in the novels of Hardy and make very largely for artis ic ef ect .

a Pair of Blue Eyes,for instance, the children of Lord ,uxellian

arly in the novel learn to call Elfride " i ttle • mma '. 3 The p rso

jn Two on a Tower mistakes the edding for a neral and a aits S it 4

in and Lady Constantine in the Cemetery . Again. Jude and rabella

ice go into the inn to drink beneath the icture o Samson an De-

1 Category used by Duffin .

2 ~B. E., p . 42

3T. on T., p . 148. 4 Jude, p . 48 . 5 any other instances occur:

P. B •. , p . 127. lfri a on her ay to Plymouth re had a :a.mma at ho e, I o ldn 1 t go. e o she time . See Hedgecocr, p. 99 . F . ... . c. , p . 28 . On the occa ion o Oa 1

sheba ' cott ge his dog bar· n her seemed,"sa s ardy, 'that the omen s

de . p . 335. Jude and e i it the re i tr riage certi icate and meet th r , the ailor' his 1ife ith a blac eye th soldie i is bride . he ight turns th m rom their i tention ing a real part jn the plot.

• , • 13 . arty o s · another lover ith 'tho if torie heart of many a noble gentlema

e ue.

h ir he s

aodicea.n, p . 187. Captain De t nc and Dare pl e c urch and De t no lo a D r .

. , p . 44 . Grace and Giles dri e hoe rec de s . Charmond . ar , he e

verg·ng des inies he ro d tog

s, b

c rd

If I that




ess , p . 357 . es s ears o the eras not to te pt lo more, but learns lat r " Ti at ing of evil-o~en.'

ell-Beloved,p . 80. omers ob er e to Jocel n: I ean the p o ces iil--oe re ersed . ome oman , hose ell- elo ed flits a­bout as yours doe no , ill ca ch our e e,and ou ' ll tic to her ike a limpet, hile she follo er Phantom and lea es you to ache as you ill .'" Jude,p . 78. Jude learns that his father and mother ere se r­atect on the spot here he and Arabella 1ere etrot ed .

oodlander , p .146 . n ·dsummer i ht's Eve the irls n th o o ee e~r f ure bus ands . race runs into . ~ ~ ~

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Natural effects frequently. act as premonitions) to the mind of 1 Hardy. As Ethelberta enters Rauen with Lord ~ounteclere, there is

2 an ominous crash of thunder. As Christopher aits at her door in

London, he notices the peculiar effect of the atmosphere. "On look­

ing the other way, he beheld a bloody sun hanging amm the chim­

neys at the upper end as a danger lamp to warn him off. 3At a pre­

vious visit to the Crescent he noticed "that no lamp shone rom the

fanlight over the entrance - a specialty which, if he cared for 4

omens," says Hardy, "was hardly encouraging.' Ethelberta herself

standing one day upon a high ridge, watched a battle bet een the s

and the storm as indicative of her own fortunes. This time the sun

shone. 5

That Hardy was iIDI!lensely interested in premonit ions is i di­

cated by his discussion of Owen's situation hen he learns from

Springrove that something has happened, 6"which very much conoe ns

somebody who lives in the parish." Graie never s s ects i is his

. t 6 sis er . "It seems sin ular enough ' says a , 1 even to minds ho

have no dim beliefs in adumbration and presenti ent, that at h t

moment not the shado of a thought crossed 0 en's mi d that he so e

body whom the matter concerned migh be himself, o any belon in to

him. The event about to transpire as s porte tou to h o n

lH. of . ' p • 304.

2Ibid., p. 134.

3Ibid., p. 94.

4Ibid., . 274 .

5T. on T., p. 116. On the evenin hen tower asked Lady Constantine to mar and the ind 'thout shook the buildi yet int ense:r: mo an from the firs."

6 D. ~. , p . 300.

ithin in the hi . ' he started

, sendin u

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whose welfare was more dear to him than his o n , as any short of

de t h itself could possibly be ; and ever afterwards , ~hen he con­

sidered the effect of the knowledge the next half- hour conveyed

to his brain, even his practical good sense could not re ·ain from

wonder that he should have walked toward the 'village, after hearing

those ~rds of the farmer , in so leisurely and unconcerned a a .

' How U1utterably mean must my intelligence have ap eared to the eye

of a foreseeing God, ' he requently said in after time. ' Col mbus

on the eve of his discovery of a orld as not so contemptibl un­

aware .' nl

Lest we should fail to gras t e rernonitory value o certain

scenes, ardy frequently comes on the scene in this ~ y to point it

out to us. Before telling us of the death of Cythere ' fa.th r, be 2

prepares us by the pass ge: "Vhy the particular of youn

presence at a very mediocre pe forma ce e e prevented 0 d 0

into oblivion hicb their intrinsic insi.gnficance ould nat ra.l.l

have involved - y they ere remembered and individ liz b her-

self and others th o gh after ears - as simply tha s n

ly stood, as it ere, upon the e treme poste ior e e o a tract in

hich the real meaning o Taking T ought h ne er be n 0 It

as the la.st ou of ex erience he ever enjoyed ith in entir

ly free from a kno ledge of tba l ab inth into ·ch she tep ed

immediately after, ar~s - to continue a perplexed course al.on its

mazes for the greater portion o t ent -nine su equent mont

1 ee also Hedgecoc , p . 59.

2 D. ., p . 9 .

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6. Coincidence for symbolic effect.

~qually artistic rom the standpoint o unity o tone

are the symbolic effects of certain coincidences in ardy's novels. 1 Mrs. Jethway moves thru the scenes of A Pair of Blue ~yes symbol-

izing evil destiny, and ill-omened 1 her sudden appearances at time 2 unsuch in the Return of ost inopportune for the heroine. us an

the rative melts her ax image of ustacia over the fire ·ust at the

oment when the pressing ills of her life lead her to plun e head-

1long into the river. 3The goldfi oh of Henchard is oun~ dead in

its neglected cage just a~er t e dead bo y of Henchard himsel has

een found by Eliza eth Jane and her bus and, in the peas nt cott e

in the lone country district to hich he bad an ered in s air.

tl.· 11 4 later Grace end itzpiers, after loo-i o t e lost purse

hi ch inter borne had given her , are tartl.ed y the fall ·n 0 t o

st uggline sparrc s into the fire, ben the oice o rt re s 5

into their soliloquy: ' r !:1ha t' s the e of h t is called lov ' .

1 P. .3.


.... ~ . '

p.134; p.214; p.287; p .323· p.340. See Bed ecoc , p . 340.

-. of N.' p. 444. 3 . ' p. 399 •

4 -·' p . 142.

5 s (p . 410), just a he di il e he project of heir be·

the children un ittingly in t suffer grie and pain. '" ( ee n. (

1th out

~ven more impressi e is the conclusion o ar ding cro d (p. 460) here Oa~ and Bath heba, the grave of Troy and a.nny, overhear the ords o choir: 11 'I loved the aris d y and pite o ears,

Pride ruled my ill: remember not past ears -leadinf on to the line so significant to Oak,

1 ich I have lo ed lon_ since and lost hile.'"

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7. Coincidence based on superstition.

a - Dreams and Visions.

Hardy further introduces into his novels a large num­

ber of coincidences based upon superstitions . Dreams and visions

foretell future events. 1Miss Aldclyffe at the moment of her fath

death dreams she is visited by Time 2

ielding his awful scythe. Cy-

therea at the time of Miss Aldclyffe's death is visited by her ghost 3

Stephen dreams of Lord Luxellian, waiting in vain at the altar for

his dead wife. 4Eustacia also beholds the vizored kni ht in her dream

and is startled by the cracking of the helmet as the apparition dis­

appears. She does not know who the figure is, but intuition tells

rightly that it is Clym. 5c1ym also dreams of taking Eustacia to se

his mother, but they are not admitted. At that very moment his

mother is being turned away from his door.

b - Ill-omens.

TWo or three ill-omens based on common superstitions m

e mentioned also. 6 cytherea unwittingly sets her weddi day for

riday. Seized with a vague fear, she changes it, only to find it

as Thursday before and has now been changed to .rida . Later she

nd her husband are shown to Room 13, on arrivin at the hotel on

heir honeymoon. Even as late as Tess, Hardy uses the co on s er­

tition of the co*ck crowing three times as they 1 ave T lbot

1 110. D. R.' p. 2 Ibid. p. 464.

3P. B. E.' p. 441.

4R. of N., p. 142.

5 rbid., p. 360. 6D. R. p. 276 '7IbiCI, p. 311. 8Tess, p. 245. See Duffin n. 48.

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8. Coincidental use of songs and stories.

The last category of coincidences for artistic effect may

be called the coincidental use of songs and stories. 1sue and Jude,

for instance, after the death of their children, hear the voices of

the choir singing, "Truly God is loving unto Israel." 2nurin the

inn fire which means Springrove's ruin, the church bells rin out

the music of the One Hundred Thirteenth Psalm, extolling Jehovah's

care for the poor. Later 3Bathaheba singe for B~ldwood, "Alan ater

or "For his bride a soldier sought her," casting a subtle irony over

his future. 4

The fact of greatest interest about the stories Hardy intro-

duces is the coincidence in the time at which he tells the • In

Tess, 5 just after Clare's avowal of love for her at the unsucceasfUl

butter churning, the milkers come in to tell the story of Jae t e be ins

seducer, who was chastized by the girl' a mother, A chur e

round and. round in the butter churn in hich he aa conce 1 d. 6

Later as Clare i~ urging her to fix the date for the edd ees

hears of the fact that Jack Dollop, after refllsin to marr he

girl, ran off with a rich widow, ho did not inform hi unt i l ate

lJude, p. 401.

2J).R. ' "P • 208 . 3~c., p. 80. see Duffin, • 49. 4The ayor ( .of c., p. 280) drinks at the 1 n revelers sing the One Hundred inth Psalm,

"None shall be found that to his wants

hile the

Their mercy will extend, etc.,' F.B.E.,p.63.Elfride quotes to Smith LaBelle D Uerci." *

e B

hen .of c., p. 328. Henchard aits to kill a fr~e arrives singing, 'Here's a hand, trusty f 1e e.

5 Tess, p. 150 6-


* Duffin, p. 86, classifies these as examples of the "in-

•h• .. _______ s_p_i_r_e_d_ f_i_t_n_e_s_s_ and _ _ s_t_r_e_n_g_t _h_"_ o_f_H_a_r_d_y_' _s_q•u•o•t •a•t •i •o•n•s•. _____ l ~' -p. 203. see Duffin, p. 48.

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the wedding that her income stopned when she married him. Es eoial-1

ly significant to Tess a.re the words of Mrs. Crick," ell, the

silly body should have told him sooner that the ghost of her first

man would trouble him.'" 2

It is later, on their return from the church, that their lum-

bering coach reminds Clare of the story of the D'Urberville Coach

which, according to legend~ap eared to the D'Urberville family at

moments of evil omen in their lives. onths afterward when Clare 3

has left her and she is pressed by harsh circ*mstances, Alec D'-

Urbervjl e, standing before the window of the cotta e from hich

the fmniiy is to be turned out on the morro tells her the truth


of the story. She had fancied his approach to be that of a carri

not a rider. "'Ah, you heard the D'Urberville Coach, perhaps! You

know the legend, I suppose? It is that this sound of non-oxistent

coach can only be heard by one of D'Urberville blood, and i is

held to be of ill-omen to the one who hears it. One of the f mily

is said to have abducted some beautiful woman, who tried to escape

from the coach in which he was carryin her off and in the et g-

gle he killed her - or she killed him - I forget whic .' It is

part of the consummate art of Hardy that this scene not only fore­

shadows the later D'Urberville tragedy but reminds us instant of

that sentence indelibly impressed upon our mind some four h n-

dred pages 4 b fore: "One may, indeed, admit the possibility of

retribution lurking in the catastrophe. (Her seduction) Doubtless

1Titi'I!, p. 203. see Duffin, p. 48. -

2Ibid, p. 243.

3Ibid, p. 406.

4rbid, p. 80.

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some of Tess D'ITrberville's mailed ancestors rollicking home from

a fray had dealt the same wrong even more ruthlessly upon peasant

girls of their time. Bu.t though to visit the sins of the fathers

upon the children may be a morality good enough for divinities, it

is scorned by average human nature; and it therefore does not mend

the matter.'"

One can see at a glance that it is exceedingly difficult to

separate Hardy's artistic purpose from his philosophic one. Yet

it is evident that the minor accidents baaed upon artistic effect

are a part of a great architectural plan which includes those based •

upon plot. Just as the large accidental forces set up the struc­

ture of the building, so the minor coincidences play their intrin­

sic part in the aesthetic scheme of the hole. If one could ima ine

estminster Abbey in the bareness of its Gothic foundation beams,

he would have some idea of what certain novels of Hardy would be

in skeleton without the exquisite tracery and delicacy of design

which welds the whole into one unified artistic effect. If the

Gothic lines form the structure of the build so too they fix

the pattern for its tracery. If great accidents form the struc­

ture of the novel e are not sur rised that they, too, furnish

the design for those minor parts which are to giv the total ef-

fect or atmosphere to the hole.

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33. ri========================

IV. Frequency of occurrence of accident as indicative of its

relative importance in the novels.

It now remains to discover the relative importance of acci­

dent when traced thru the novels of Hardy from beginning to end.

ith that end in view let us examine for a moment the tabulated

chart of accidents in the novels. 1 The totals for the novels, it

will be noted, reveal in general a marked decrease in the use of

accident between the earlier and later novels, Desperate Remedies,

I A Pair of Blue Eyes, and the Hand of Eth~lberta, far outnumbering

any others on the list. Dividing the novels roughly into those

which deal strikingly with common essex life, that is, the serious

work of the author, and those whiah are pre-eminently in a lighter

vein, we have:

No. of o.of Novels Accidents oTels Accidents

Under Greenwood Tree l Desperate Remedies 32

Par from adding Crowd 16 A Pair of Blue Eyes 31

Return of Native 10 The Hand of thelberta 28

11a¥or of Casterbridge 8 Trumpet a.jor 6

The oodlanders 18 The La.odicean · 18

Tees 16 Two on a To er 18

Jude 14 The ell-Beloved 13

Total 83 146

The result is a noticeably smaller number of accidents in the

first group.

But the case is not yet satisfactory. The totals, as they

stand, indicate a blEll.kvt count of accidents ,representing the lac of dis-

1 See next page.

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T bl Sh a e owing Frequency o f Occurrence of Acciden t i H d I n ar y s 1 ove s. - - - ·- - ·- -"'--

Novel - - u. P. F. H. R. T. . . \{ . D. G. B. o""' of on of T. J. . . B . R. T. E. c. E. /! L. T • c. . . lcind of Accident 11 A7l 11 f"72 A73 'A74 1876 H178 []AAQ ]£81 h882 -~ IA87 t1Bg1 JAo9 PQf\

Conver ence 1 1 1 2 of Twain ge:oer~~ 01nc1 ence 1 1 1

Larg-e Accident 1 1 2 1 1

inor at first of story 1 1 1 1 I

in or within l Plot 7 7 8 15 2 5 8 9 3 6 4 5 I rong License 1 1 1

I rissin Train 4 l 1 I


Overhearing 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 Conversation Bod.LL - 1 1 2 CCide

Disease 1 1 1 1 l l

Death l 2 1 If sue. en

1 1 1 2 I Appearance

torm 1 1 l 1 1 1 I Total in Plot 19 l 11 12 21 7 6 13 l~ 7 9

i 8 10 5

Storm 2 3 l l 1 2 l

inor accident 3 1 1 for effect

I ·inor Ironies 4 3 1 l 11 ~ ,~:.-: .:'e r=._U " AT ..

3 I Uo--~-~~:g~f5 2 5 l ·~ - ~

..t:Temoni t ory cenes 3 l 1 4 1 1 3 1 1 31

13ymbolic 1 1 1 1 1 1

,uoerstition 4 2 ? 1 l

!Songs & Stories 2 1 1 2 4 1

rotal for effect 13 0 20 4 7 4 0 5 3 l 9 8 3 8

rot al of all 32 1 31 16 28 11 6 18 18 8 18 16 13 13 '-- , __

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crimination responsible for such statements as those by DeCasseras

and Duffin. 1 The whole question of accident is a relative one and

depends upon innumerable discriminations not recognized in totali­

ties. For instance, the first two categories, which indicate the

fundamenta.l basis for the construction of the story, include only

the earliest novels, whereas it has been shown that the instance in

Far from the addi~_Qrowd is based fully as much upon character as

upon accident. 2 Furthermore, in such a category as the sixth,

inor Accidents within the Plot, no account is taken of the degree

of probability of the accidents included. For instance, the minor

accident in The oodlanders, in which Giles' load of wood interferes

with Mrs. Charmond's journey thru the woods, is a much more plaus­

ible accident under the circ*mstances than the collision between

Julian's cart and that of Mountclere on the road to Knollsea, which

happens as the driver turns for an instant to s ear at his passenger

neither driver having apparently detected the presence of the other

vehicle as it approached him in the open road. Again, the large ac­

cident in ~es!, namely the slipping of the letter under the carpet,

is much more likely than the fire and train episodes of Desperate

Remedies. The nine points of A Pair of Blue Ez._es included under

inor Ironies and Double Happenings are like ise much ore artifi­

cial. than the four of Tess, including the stories of Jack the Se­

ducer and the D'Urberville Coach so closely woven into the oof of

the story.

It is for this reaso that when we consider the mere number of

accidents involved in the novels, we have resented only half the

evidence in the case.

1 See I above. 2see III - A-1.

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V. Relative Importance of Accident traced thru the novels.

In tracing thru the novels the relative importance of acci­

dent from the first to the last, we will keep in mind, therefore, th

following points:

1. The importance of accident in the plot, including the time

of its operation in the story.

2. The corresponding part played by character and other plot


3. The degree of probability of the accident.

4. The author's intrusion of the accident - whether it is

carefully worked out for realistic effect or simply hurled into the

story for the deliberate purpose of th arting the action.

5. Th~ author's definite remarks on the sub ect o chance and

accident interpolated into the narratives.

Duf-fin, jn his 1 ovels, excludes Des erat

Remedies which he declares to be 'of interest in the same painful

sense as are Shelley's Juvenilia, as demonstrati , h t is, ho ex­

traordina 1 y oor in the qualities hich characterize his mature

or , the productions of an embryo enius may be." It is for this

very reason that it is articularly valuable in the study of Hardy's

use of accident. Tha Hardy, himself, recognized its ea ess is

evident from his preface of 1889. "The follo ing story as ritten

ninete n years ago at a time hen the author as feeling his ay to

a method. The principles observed in it are, no doub , too exclus­

ively those in which mystery, entanglement, surprise, and moral obli

quity are depended on for exciting interest. 11

l p . 3.

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37 .

1 1 n n, d 11 hi to

h 1th 0 a 1 nt 001 -

c 0 11 1 ore 0 t in h

po ibl XO p ion o ho 0 n-

t tic o th loo

bu re h r on 0 0

t e iq coinaia n -

th in o 0 ciro

i d to 1 0

lo 0 o J ho


coi ol 0 0

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Owen's illness finally forces Cytherea into a marriage with

Manston, the result of which is foreshadowed by innumerable siniste

omens on the wedding journey. The porter reveals the fact that Mrs .

Manston is alive and then absconds and is drowned, all evidence go­

ing down with him. The 4:45 train is delayed by frosty rails, and

Springrove catches it, arriving before the telegram. The search fo

evidence against anston continues, hindered by such coincidences as

Owen's unexpected meeting with anston, hen inquiring the lady's

address at the Casterbridge Chronicle Office, and aided by others,

such as Springrove's missing by chance the poem later found in the

work box, rendering anston's tamperin with the mail of no account.

After several other melodramatic scenes incl din a horrible

murder and an assault, the whole ends ha pily for the lovers - an

occurrence decidedly un-Hardi s~eaccording to his later practices.

Accident is clearly all-po erful h~re. Cytherea has no

strength of character whatever. She goes down before accident and is

raised by it rather than risin it it. Even the efforts of her

lover and brother on her behalf play little part in the stor , for,

as in the fairy tales of old, wh they reach the trap door, it

either closes, forcing them to turn their course, or opens b ma io 1

to let them pass thru. One feels that Hedgecoc is entirely sti

fied in his remark: "En suiv t dans lea pa es de Des erate eme­

dies l'enchevetrement bizarre des vies· en nota t, d quellefacon ~--· curieuse des existences liees entre elles, se se arent pour se re­

joindre lus tard, comme sous 1 direction d 1 un destin tout puissan

on est enclin a dire que le jeune auteur n' pas encore acquis le

pouvoir de donner a sa fiction la vraisemb nee et e lea acteurs

du drame sont trop evidemment des pantins dent il manie lea ficelles.

1 Hedgeco*ck, p . 57 .

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ithout doubt the author realized his liability to criticism

from the standpoint of the eli ht de ee of plausibility in the ac­

cidents of this novel. Cythe ea refers more tha once to the strange

1 'coincidence" thru which they had learned the story of the first 2

Cytherea, and to her remarks Hardy adds his, such as •and then the

young girl marvelled again and again, as she had marvelled before,

at the stra e confluence of circ*mstances hich had brou ht her in-

to contact with the one woman in the orld hose history so

romantically intert ined with her on."

In her discussion of it ith Owen we catch a li se o r

o n views. 3

"Do yo believe in such odd coincidences." said C thee .

11Ho do you mean, believe i the . he occur som ti

"Yes, ~ 11 occur o ten eno h - th t i , t di co ot

ents ill fall stran el to ether b chance, nd eo le sc

the fact beyond s in , 'Oddly enou h it h n 0 0

the same' and so on. But hen three such e ent coi c d

rJY apparent reason for the ooinoi ence, 1 se 1

st be invisible means t or . 0 e , t e hin to-

e re t n t in lar t 0 c 0 co-ether in that

incidence which e di

4"And rom these remi es, s s H dy. h roce d d to

li e an elderl divine on the n o ovid nc e hich

arent in uch conjunct e 1 0 hich 1 8 0 f ht

hile Har y rep diatea the desi of Pro id nee, he be i o-

1n. R., p. 42. 2

Ibid. p 91.

3 116. See Hed ecoc 38. 4Ibid .• , p. '


Ibid., p. 117.

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roughly in the confluence of circ*mstances. 1

One is reminded, in laying down this boo} of the fact that 2 ~

Hardy's first novel, never given to the world, was severely criti-

cized by Meredith as too outspoken upon some of the more serious

problems it attacked.. Laying this aside, he apparently set to work

to write a novel which would "take" with the reading public, and

Desperate Remedies was the result.

Under the Greenwood Tree.

Desperate Remedies was followed in 1872 by Under the Greenwood

Tree, that exquisite little3 "rural painting of the Dutch School,"

which wae intended for no other purpose than*11to be a fairly tr e

picture, at first hand, of the personages, ways, and customs, hioh

ere common, •..• in villages fifty yegrs a o." It is realistic in

manner but romantic in effect. The only accidents introduced into

it are those natural to ordinary social life a ch a the une ected

entrance of aybold upon the t~te a t~t of anc Day and Dick D ey

and ancy's stopping during the storm at he home of the re ted

itch of Endorfield, from whom she learns of a scheme b hicb to

in her father to sanction her love for Dick. It is extremely si -

nificant that in his first serious ork, comin only one ear e

Desperate Remedies, Hard7 repudiates entirel the ntrance o cci­

dent into the lives of his quiet essex olk. t re re omi tea

here as in the later novels. but she is not stern x er 1 force.

1 This view is supported b such sen ences of the author s that hich opens Chap.X,Part 2. A strange concurrence o phe­nomena no confronts us" - sentences b hich h casts an air of mystery upon the ordinary h penin of his stor:v.

2 The Poor Man and the Ladz - See ~d d Gosse - Internatl. ev. Sept . 1901.

3 See title pa e.

4 Preface of 1896.

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As Hedgeco*ck points out, the universe invites the sympathy of those

who recognize in plants and animals, brothers of an inferior type

perhaps, but still children of the same mother. 1 She is the friend

and sympathizer of all animate things.

A Pair of Blue Eyes.

The very next year, 1873, produced A Pair of Blue Eyes, desig­

nated in the preface of 1895 as "an imaginary history of three heart ,

hose emotions were not without correspondence with the movemen to

restore the gray carcasses of a medievalism whose spirit had fled.

The place is pre-eminently the region of dream and mystery. The

hostly birds, the pall-like sea, the frot~ wind, the eternal soli­

loqu.r of the waters, the bloom of dark purple cast that seems to ex­

hale from the shore ard precipices, in themselves lend to the scene

an atmosphere like the twilight of a vision." It is Hard 's first

tragedy and as such is of peculiar interest to the students of hie 2 '

philosophy. Hedgeco*ck describes it as "premiere expression com-

plete des idees fondamentalea de l'auteur: de ss conoe tion de 1 hom-

me non-libre et de la vie dirig~e par un hasard, erieur SU OU-

voir des mor els." This jud ent he bases upon the free use o o-

o ident in its pages, which to 3nuffin's mind also, consti tes a de­

liberately employed device growin out of H dy 1 s philosop

4 Johnson, with an apparent fear of hurtin t e feel s f the u-

thor, so prevalent thruout his boo , declares th t in A P ir o

Blue Ey-es. there are coincidences, con rasts, oddities of circ

stanc , almost holly natural and ust ifiable, yet i th a touch of


lsee 2 "

p. 87 - Hedgecoc • p.119 - Hedgeco*ck.

3nuffin, p. 46. 4 Johnson, p. 61.

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Surely there is little either natural or justifiable in the

melodramatic coincidences of Hardy's first tragedy; yet the critics

seek carefully thru its pages for evidences of a well-formulated

scheme of chance. Not one has looked to the preface which seems in

itself to explain the whole scheme, entirely aside from the ques­

tion of philosophy. An imaginary history, the writer promises us,

tinged with medievalism, and set in a region of dreams and mysteries

does it not of itself preclude the natural and the realistic? rt is

to be dramatic, if the Table of Persons and the scene may be con­

sidered to have significance. The recipe is before him and Hardy

sets about mixing the ingredients. arvelous coincidences and

bizarre situations are of the very essence of medievalism and Hardy

mixes them in with a will.

Smith, the son of a cottager, on the estate of Lord Lu.xellian,

by a strange coi oidence, finds himself appointed to remodel the

church there, and a guest in the parsonage where Elfrida, d rin

the illness of her father, acts as hostess. He later proposes to

her unwittingly on the grave of her first lover, after hich she

runs away to marry him on the very night on hich her father leaves

in secret to be married - a most unli ely coincidence. By an ac­

cident, the mistake in the license, she returns home itho t marry­

ing, and a cloud is cast over her future, which is emphasized b

the sinister ap earance at most inopportune ti es of the mysterious

1 rs. Jethway, truly a con~i n of. me~times. Then begins the series of · hich g·ve to the

plot its predominant stamp of artificiality. Ins ite of Hardy's

rather 2weak attempt to justify them on a sychological basis, it

luentioned by Hedgeco*ck, p. 110; also Duffin, p. 44.

2P. B. ~ ., p. 195.

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is obvious that they constitute a device rather for the gratifica­

tion of the artistic sense of plot symmetry than for the promulga­

tion of a philosophical principle. After Knight's rescue of her at 1

the turret, Elfrida saves him in the extravagant cliff scene in /

which the duplication of the circ*mstances of her former visit with

Smith are worked out in extreme detail. But the gre test trial of

the credulity of the reader is the discovery of the ring in the 1

crac~ upon which the sun shines but one moment during the day. The

irony of ~heir position watching thru the telescope the arrival of

Smith, forms one of the most striking scenes in the novel, recalling

as it does, the whole series of minor coincidences centerin in

Smith's confidences to Knight, and the latter's interest in the

trustworthiness of Smith's lady,

The three meet for the first time in the tomb of the Luxel­

lia~~nister in its fatal bearin upon their lives, hen

Knight tells Smith of their engagement and asks of the success of

his own love affair. It is the character of lfride hich leads

to the false position in which she finds herself ith Knight; but

it is accident alone hich brin s it to its tragic close in the

falling of the old church tower thru the agency of ith, hich in

the presence of Knight and Elfrida crushes · a. Jeth ay in its

ruins. But it is too late. The letter has reached its destina ion

and the ords of Elfrida to Knight before its all, ha e a ne si -

nificance in the light of the accident: 2'Thou hast been · hope

and a strong tower for me against he enemy."

The enemy, e feel before the end, is little more than evil

circ*mstances against which they are po erless. But the real agenc

entioned by Hedgeco*ck, pp.108 and 110; also D ffin p. 44.

2 ~ P .B. ~ ., p.373. entioned by Hedgeco*ck p.113; Duffin, p. 45.

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of accident is brought home to us essentially in the closin pages

of the novel when the two lovers having met abroad, have returned

home to be carried by ate, one almost feels, on the same train as

the dead body of Elfrida on whose coffin they rend the sign -

"Elfrida, Wife of Spenser Hugo Luxellian." Yet they do not blame

her : l

"Can we call her ambitiou Y No. Circ*mstance has, as usual,

overpowered her purposes - fragile and delicate, liable to be over­

thrown in a moment by the coarse elements of accident. I kno

that's it, don't you?"

e feel that Smith's half-hearted acquiescence is that o Har­

dy, who, tho he has no system of philoso hy in mind as in hi later

works, apparently is impressed by the fatality of ccident i life,

but finds its victims fully as much in Smith and ight as in 1-

fride herself. ?

ho ever t e er

t1a11:!aS la sible, dr /\

i ht as tuto of Smith,

i th Des er ate In co!!lparison

; .1~~iJ1Xi~~:~~J-~;!i~s more ~~~, e a the position o

II ic of lfride's romance, nephe of a. e.ncourt, nd s

~ mith as lover of lfride. The characters lso have mor

cce so

force in the plot. Kni ht is m 0 tren h o p-3 that of Clare· and lfri e, thru h r lo of d ir tion proachin

and tendency to untruthfUlness is her elf rs ons·b1 0 0

the situations in hich she is entrap ed; ent·r ly unli e Cythere

ho is a mere passive a ent in the s ory. Yet the ch r c e are

ixed, remainin essentially unchanged 0 eg in o e d. It

1 P.B. E. p. 449. ·entioned by Bed ecoc , p. 99. 2

Considered by Duffin,p.49, as pure coincidence.

Noted by Hedgeco*ck, p. 106.

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clu.. tc.h is merely their position in the of circ*mstance which lays

the basis of the plot, and their playing into the hands of accident

which constitutes its processes.

One feels there is a ~eculiar felicity in the phrase 1hich 1

Hedgeco*ck applies to the novel: "une exposition dramatique de la

loi de causali t6 appliguee au · cars.ct re humain." Undoubtedly there

is at work in the -novel a force exterior to the characters them­

selves and over which they have no control. The very presence of

Mrs. Jethway bespeaks a hovering sinister destiny; yet the exposi-

ion is entirely dramatic. Hardy gives no explanations and passes

no remarks . He adds not a word when Knight attribut~s_ the fate o · --~~~ ~ . .

Elfrida to circ*mstance. Only twice in his emphasis" -rt~

sentences in the narrative does he indicate in ords his love of

coincidence. As Elfride and Knight left the boat at Pl outh, he

declares that 2"the littl~ town smiled as sunny a smile u on El­

fride as it had done between one and two years earlier, when she

had entered it at precisely the same hour as the bride-elect of

Stephen Smith. n 3

In one passage only does Hardy indicat cl arly the responsi-

bility of circ*mstance for the juxta osition o ch racters in he

novel as well as in life . 4'And so, thou h Smith s not t all

the man Knight would have deliberately chosen as a friend - or e en

for one of a group of a dozen friends he someho as his friend .

Circ*mstance, as usual, did it all. Ho o us can sa of o

most intimate Alter Ego, leavin alone friends of the oute circle .

1 p . 107 . 2 P. B. E. , p . 351. 3 See also above III, B, 3 - p . ~~

4P. B. E . , p . 155 .

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that he is the man e should have chosen, s embodyin th net e-

sult after adding up all the points in human nature th t e love,

and pr1no iples that e hold, and subtracting all that e hate?

an is really somebody e got to kno by mere physic 1 uxtapo

long maintained, and as taken into our confidence, and even he rt, ,,

as a makeshift. Here at least is a very fra reco ition o the

rule of circ*mstance in one type of life's choice .

ar from the • dding Cro d.

It seems probable 1th Far from the • ding Cro d th t

serious arks are to alternate i h his li hter one • s

Pair of Blue E~ as built on the lan o

in ar from the adding Cro d e

atmosphere of Under the Green ood Tree . i h his

native milieu Hardy seem to lo e omethin o th

dent in life. In this novel char c er count or

ceding one. th and o re c r ct r

tell in force in th lot. he d no nt 1 bro

inte 1 of Batbsh ba i h h r lo e o ir ion

pa sionateness o old ood th dr ic 1 in o

the cha.n eless ~ e o ion o 0

be o enin ccident bri 1 s h in oi

the cli f by hi youn r do

his art in the ir in Bat h

thin e noticeable in tbi

0 c hi 0

o Desper te Remedie and !!-.:.:::.=-..-=-:::.....;;;=..;..;___....~

forced and easily e plainable in

over, it is introduced itb e re d ail,

page discussion of the eculi rities o 0 0

ith the youn er one. e second oi t of in e

lo ioh

hi 0


i bo ood. o

recea.ed b t 0

a d his ro ble

t is the e ect

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of the accident upon Oak. 1"He had passed thruugh an ordeal of

wretchedness which had given him more than it had taken awe:s-. He

had sunk from his modest elevation as pastoral king into the very

slime- its of Siddim; but there was left to him a dignified calm

he had never known before and that indifference to fate which, though

it o~en makes a villain of a man, is the basis of his sublimity

when it does not. And thus the abasem*nt had been exaltation and

the loss gain." Here we have an attitude toward accident which

gives us an entirely new idea of the writer of Desperate Remedies

and A Pair of Blue Eye!· It is the character in which he is inter­

ested, and tho accident enters in the sense in which it does in ac­

tual life, we realize that its place in the machinery is very small. 2 rhe minor coincidences, eight of which are tabulated for

Far from the Madding Crowd, include instances such as Gabriel's

chance meeting with Fanny Robin on her ay to Troy, the later one in

which Bathsheba and Troy pass her on the road to the althouse and

the coincidence of the fall of ... anny' s yellow curl from :.i.:ro 's atch

as he asks Bathsheba for money. The are all plainly coincidences·

yet all gro naturally out of the daily lives of the persona es.

3The three other great accidents of the stor have been alread

considered as quite different from those of the 11 hter no els.

Bathsheba's openin of the casket has already been traced (III.A,3)

to the accident of Joseph Poorgrass ' del~ at the tavern. Durin

the scene which follows the entrance of Troy, Hard declares s ·

1 F. =.c., p. 44. 2 See above, p. ~*.

3 See above - 1. Preparations for Bold ood's party.111,A,l.

2. Taking of casket to Bathsheba. III, A, 3. 3. Opening accident. p. 46.

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Bathsheba's tears f a ll upon the body of Fanny: 1 "Assuredly their un­

wonted fires must have lived in ~anny's ashes when events were so

shaped as to chariot her hither in this natural, unobtrusive,~

effectual manner." ( ay these words not be indicative of the au­

thor's consciousness of the naturalness of this accident as opposed

to some earlier ones such as the death of Mrs. Jethway?) The one

feat alone - that of dying - by which a mean condition could be re­

solved into a grand one, Fanny had achieved. And to that had des­

~ subjoined this rencounter tonight, which had, in Bathsheba's

ild imagining, turned her companion's failure to success, her hu­

miliation to triumph, her lucklessness to ascendency; it had thrown

over herself a garish light of mockery, and set upon all thin s

about her, an ironical smile."

e must feel with Hardy that a force e ternal to the charac-

ters rather urged on their conver ing destinies; yet we cannot for­

get that it was Bathsheba ho sent the Valentine and she who court-

ed Troy for his admiration.

One or two places in the novel, here the creak of the drama-

tic machinery is audible, give the impression o unex lained acci-

dent, which in later novels Hardy would avoid by more det iled re-

par at ion or less melodramatic devices. ro 's collis·on ith B th-

sheba in the garden is almost too melodramatic to be real and oc­

curs just at the moment hen Bold1ood is ot rid of b his business

trip of six weeks. Again Tro 's dro nin episode an escape fail

to carry conviction because of the cursory treatment the receive.

The accident happened "far from the ma.ddin cro d here

cause much stir, and his later return 1th the circus must have bee

1 l! • .. c.' p. 348. ~---

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49 .

detected in spite of his disguise. Lastly Boldwood's dispensation,

(a convenient method of getting him off the stage) seems hardly

l ikely from what we know of the vigor of English courts of justice.

These matters, one might almost say of dramatic technique, are

handled with much more skill in the later novels.

On the whole, Far_!!~~ the Maddi_?~_9r~wd_is indicative of

Hardy ' s tendency in his more serious novels to put increasing em­

phesis upon character and environment with less upon the startling

intrusion of accidental forces fro~ without. Not that the charac­

ters are more free, nor the external force less terrible; but on

the whole it is less fortuitous, less melodramatic, and more ex-

plicable in the nature of things.

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The Hand of Ethelberta, 1876.

Our theory of alternation between works of a serious nature and

those of a somewhat frivolous design is well borne out by Hardy's re

marks in the preface to ~he Hand of Ethelberta written in 1895. ~nhis

somewhat fri"Volous narrative was produced as an interlude between

stories of a more sober design and it was given the sub-title of a

comedy to indicate - though not quite accurately - the aim of the

performance. A high degree of probability as not attempted in the I

arrangement of incidents, and there as expected of the reader a cer

tain lightness of mood, hich should inform him ith a good-natured

willingness to accept the production in the spirit in whic it as ~

offered. It is evident from these remar s that a hi h de ree of

probability in incidents is coming to be one of the tenets of ar-

dy' s creed as a serious novel riter. Because of this apolo e

feel justified in giving only cursory treatm nt to this novel hich

was mentioned largely in the discussion of kinds o ccident.

~t only the fundamental plan of the novel is b sed on

tificial and unlikely accidents but the supe structure itsel is

little more than a net ork of extrava ant coi.ci ences. e heig t

of the ridiculous is reached int o oints in thelberta's career

ith wountclere; one in her detention ith her donk

try castle visited by ountclere and his scienti t 1

other in her Rouen situation here she is bes it e

t the coun-

ri nds, and t e

b our overs

at once, each ignorant of the other's presence, ntil o

out at the upper hotel indo bile a aitin intervie ith

• the lady, not only detect the presence of each other, but overhear

thelberta promising her hand to ord ountclere on the porch below.

1 entioned by Johnson, p. 60.

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The improbability of the race at the end, both partjes seeking to

stop the marriage, and each ienorant of the other's connection with

the caseJ has been mentioned before. 1 Clearly Hardy is out of his

natural milieu~ .....nd his lack of familiarity with London society must

be counteracted in the making of a 'good story" b. the use of all

that is extrava ant in coincidence and chance.

The Return of the Fative. 1878.

One cannot approach The Return of the ative ithout feeling

that at last Hardy has formulated in his own mind something of the

place of accident in life. His vie has chan ed from that of the

young man who sees accident as a great force cutting into the srp

and woof of life ith gigantic s oops from most unexpected sources

and at most unforeseen times, to that of a student of li e ho sees

it gro in out o~ the inner necessities of the individual in con­

flict with the general forces of ature. rt is the extraordinary

importance of the quiet, ordinary coincidences of d ily i· e hich

no impress him as hav·ng a mysteriou v·tal significance in the

whole. It is for this reason that one ives a to a sort of r· ht

eo fury to say nothing of indignation hen he reads ·n accounts

of Hard some such statement as this of Duffin in regard to t 2 (in

stony despair of Hardy's novels. In a 0 d it is no longe '

The Return of the at_!_!~) a stud of sin le mortal rith·n on

the toasting for of fate but a ider pup et-ata e th the Devil

visible at ~ork on a reater com lication o trings. ot a singl

accident (outside of Thomasin an 'ildeve's license hich pla s

little part in the story) occurs in this novel before the t hunll'ed

1 See above, p. ~ ee also Johnson, p. 61.

2nuffin, p . 119.

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inetieth page after the forces of the novel are already at work and '

hat one, which is Venn's giving all of the money to Thomasin, is en­

irely within the range of human probability .

It is the great conflict of wills ~~he living characters

f the story as well as between Eustacia and her circ*mstances which '

this the most powerful novel Hardy h yet written. The rest­

ambition and jealous pride of Eustacia, the reckless passion and

ensuality of ildeve, the stubborn purpose of Clym, and the indomi­

able will of Mrs. Yeobright are forces, the awfulness of whose

lash, gives a stern reality to the plot which they comprise. Take 1

the lives of Ethelberta, of Elfride, and of Cytherea the force'

f accident/ and there is nothing left. But take the po er of chance

ut of the lives of Eustacia and her associates~ and there remains a

errific force of character which to her and her associates is almost

in itself.

On the other hand one does not read two pages in the story itft

feeling the somber, enduring, and sinister aspect of the heath. 2

"It had a lonely face, suggesting tragical possibilities ." "Every

ight its Titanic form seemed to a ait something; but it ha aited

bus unmoved, during so many centuries, through the crises of so u.~.llYfl

hings,that it could only be imagined to a ait one last crisis - the a.

It is the Promethean rebellion of sts.cia inal overthrow.n

gainst this terrible, impartial force hich ives to the heath its 4

atmosphere of a jealous and broodin antagonism. "She co ld sho

most reproachful look at times, but it as directed less a inst

uman beings than against c rtain creatures of her mind, he chief

of tho~being Destiny." Feeling her life pulse within her, she knew

erself worthy of different

1 R. of N. , p . 6. 2 Ibid, p. 4.

surroundings and rebelled a ainst cir-3rbid, p. 19. 4rbid. p . si.

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53 .

oumstances in general . She mana ed the atuous ~ildeve to suit her­

self, and before long had Clym ithin her power; but the force of

Mrs. Yeobright was too much for her.

rt is the very naturalness of the accidents hich reek her

life which give to it its special air of tragedy. Hardy does not o

ithout into the realm of mystery for them. Christian Cantle, on

his way to deliver the guineas to Thomasin and Clym, is turned aside

to his first raffle~ here he becomes enamored of the game of dice.

He is followed by ildeve, who, in the marvelously realistic

scene, wins all from him, only to be met by Venn's countermoves. On

inning the guineas, the faithful enn na u ally takes the to ~homa

sin little realizin the tragedy he is in u rating.

Fully as natural is the ay in hich s. Yeobri ht is shut

out by Eustacia, thinking Clym had gone to the door. Later her di -

cussion with the child of usan such sho s her de th at the han s

of a serpent entirely natural to her condition and sur oundin s.

ei~eco*ck distinguishes these en

'v6nements laquelle la volar e cidences

es mortal

s 1

une c e des

s'oppose en in, gi -

llin as his ar ent the fact that had the vents prece ed e ch oth r

by the lapse of a fe moments, the hole tor oft eiT liv s h d

been different. Yet there i not a sin le s retchin o oint 1

their coincidence. Cl as n the h bit of comin home by h t

path and at that time durin all hi d ys a a furze cutter. Li e­

wise ildeve's visits b daylight had b en carefull accounte for

by Venn ' s molestations by ni ht.

surely there is no manipulator of scenes here. Hard si ly

placed upon the heath the great outstandin characters of his dram J

and stern necessity does the rest. 11 is consistent and all plau -

1Hedgeco*ck, p. 131.

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ible according to the plan of Nature. Yet we must admit that there

is evident in the novel the inevitable system which Hedgecoc sug-1

gests. "Une volonte divine semble conduire t oute l'action a son de-

nofunent; sur sa sc ne, com.me chez Sophocle, no s suivons la lutte c 0 nf re ·1 a N e c e SS i fe

de la volonte humaine~ auquel personne ne pe r6sister; et toujours

la necessite implacable triom:phe des efforts de l'homme; toujours .. ~

l'homme sort du combat battu et chatie;n yet admirable, we could al-

most say, in the eyes of Hardy, for e feel that Eustacia was to Har

dy a greater character than Clym.1 .vho 2"did sometimes think he had

been ill-used by fortune so far as to say that to be born is a pal- 1

pable dilemma, and that instead of men aimin to advance in life ou.f

with glory they should calculate how to retreat out of it i shame /\

But that he and his had been sarcastically and itilessly ha led in

ha~ing such irons thrust into their souls he did not m intain long.

It is usually so,' sayB Hardy, 'except ith the sternest o men.

Human beings, in their generous endeavor to constr ct a hypothesis

that shall not degrade a irst Cause, have al a s hesit ted to con-

ceive a dominant po er of lower moral qualit th their o n· nd t I

even hile the sit do n and eep b the aters of B bylon inv

excuses for the oppression hie rom ts t eir t s."

Hardy has become the philosopher as ell as the rtist. ith-

out doubt there is to his mind "an oppression he does no personi-

fy it, hich prom ts tears on the part of bumanit It i not ex-

ternal chance as it s in Desperate Remedies but more nearl in-

ner necessity hich in its collision ith envi onin circu stances

proves the fatality tho not al ays the

1Hed eco*ck, p 176. 2

R. of l . p. 475.

ilit 0 uman endeavor.

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Henceforth in his serious work, Hardy will vindicate his theory not

by grotesque accident hurled in from ithout, but thru the interplay

of character with character and with the humble environment of every

day life.

The Trumpet a.J..2!.. 1880.

or a period of two years following The ,eturn of the ative ----- -- - - -- --Hardy produced no novels until The~rumpet ~or (1880). The La2~i-

cean (1881), n Two on a Tower (1882 ollo ed each other in rapid

succession. It is evident by this time that Hardy's field is the

life of the inhabitant of essex. is but a slight

narrative composed of the incidents of the da\VB durin the threaten­

ed invasion of England by Bonaparte. It contains no vie of essex

life in its essential qualitie ~ d is bu an historical tra.nscri t

of the period. or that reason it is ne li ible in the stud o ac-

cident in the essex novels.

e Laodicean. 1881.

1 The Laodicea.n, the author tells s, as "stren o l

by dictation to a pre e ermined cheerful endin • en follo s th 1

some hat satirical commendation that s some o the e novel o

Tes ex lifo address themselves more especiall to e ders into hose

souls the iron has entered, and hose ears v 1 as leas in

them than heretofore, so ~ ma pe haps hel to hil

a ay an idle afternoon of the comfort ble one hos line h e

fallen to them in pleas nt places; bove all o that large nd hap­

py section of the readin ublic hich bas no ·et rec e ri eness

of yea.rs; those to hom marriage is the p·1 im's ternal City and

not a milestone on the ay.'

1 See L. Pre 1896.

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t no d to loo in uch boo 0 t it 0

his art iild his philo ophy not u to in n it

se o co c d nc 1 n th 0 1

tog th r 1th ill

ntrigu (l ore in h to y n 0 h

n ic 0 cciden n s.

or r to reaJ.iz

i ilitu or ti tic on b t 0

Dare 1th his ol r oin e.t 111' 1 co

0 hi t too t, ud n c 0 0 0 -

lf ic y hich

b indic t

to be nt on by

On 1 0 no hi

1 ind h nh 0 1 0 0

ro anc or p

cl th

0 i ion

00 t 0 ic b 0

n 0 1,

on i n b 0 0

0 or 0 o in 1 1 1

do b c 0 0

th th ci c 0 r-

1 e. le ic ion. h ol. 1 Pro i 0

2 Pr f ce.

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57 .

. verted to meet the needs of the thesis. This is exactly what hap-

pens. In the first place Swithin's pride in the rinting of his as­

tronomical discoveries is dashed to the ground hen he learns that

similar findings were published six weeks earlier by an astronomer

on the other side of the globe .1 nThen the youth found," says Hardy,

"that the goddess Philosophy to hom he had vowed to dedicate his

whole life, would not in return support him throu h a single hour

of despair. In truth the impishness of circ*mstance as newer to

him than it would have been to a philosopher of three so ore and ten. I But aft er a serious illness he is brought to li e again b the 1

sudden appearance of the comet. Yet Nature is not to let him off so

easily. Just as Lady Constantine, thru study o the Ten Command-

ments induced by the music of Tabitha Lar rdec·des to th ow over her

love for Swithin, the Parson brings her news of the death of Sir

Blount in Africa. Her coast is clear. Their love pro resses until

their wedding plans in the tower are interrupted by the storm. 2 'While these tactics ere under discussion, the t o and thirty

winds of heaven continued as before, to beat abo t the to e , though

their onset appeared to be some hat lessenin in orce. Hi f no

calmed and satisfied, Swithin as is the wont of hum nity took

serener vie s of ature's crushi mechanics ithout, and s id, ' he

ind doesn't seem disposed to put the tr ic period to our hopes an

fears that I spoke o in momentar despair. And," say dy, as

if flatly to stultify .ithin's assumption, a circular hur le e

exceeding in violence any that had preceded it, seized hold u on

Ring's Hill speer at that moment ith the determination o a con-

scious agent . "

1 T . on T . , :p. 7 7.

~Ibid, p. 122. · See Hedgeco*ck, p. 140.

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1 On the way to the wedding two weeks later) S:vithin by chance

receives a letter from an unknown uncle, leaving him ~E O a year

provided that he does not marry until tventy-five. But chance has

operated too late. Then comes the lash of Lewis' whiP,, which sends

S ithin and Lady Constantine to the To er for three day~ " ith

that sense rather of predestination than of choice in their proceed

ings. 11 Some months later it is revealed that accident has misin­

formed them about Sir Blount's deathJ~hich had occurred butt o

weeks a~er their marriage. As Lady Constantine returns ·o ask

1 et er in re ard Swithin to repeat the marriage, she disco ere hi 3

to the legacy, left accidentally upon the t ble. ,~

~ the ext aordi-

nary favour of a unique accident she had no~ n op ortunit o re-

deeming Swithin's seriously compromised ture.

or that reason e find S ithin on his ay to the Ca _e v-

in behind him no trace of is heres.ho ts. Disco e ·n h cond

tion, the wife rushes after him to outhampton, but the boat h s 4

le t. Her marria e ith the Bishop follo s for ' ature as fore-

ing her hand at this a.me; and to at ·11 n t n t e co 1 her

eaker victims in extremes?" La.akin the stren th and

ative t force of the characters of The

follow the current of ature's stre ich h rl he on 110 de-

struction. Hard has the Bishop die in the end a ti on

to the lovers· but that ould be favorin th in ini esi b ' ....{j..LC,.C,U.~-"'

too much. ature ·11 not have it so. She ills Lad Const

pure joy at s ithin's return. The e is no

ed his thesis, but whether he has itten

another matter.

1see Hedgeco*ck, p. 143. 2T. on T. , p. 153. 3 rbid, p . 269. 4 Ibid • 306.

oubt t t rd

1 usible sto

h v


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The Well-Beloved. 1892.

It may be permissible to discuss briefly at this point Hardy's

ther novel, written ten years later (1892) on the thesis of the

ell-Beloved. He distingaishes it as a 1brief tale ~ritten on a fan­

ciful idea. It has been proved by 2 iss Chase's thesis on this

novel, that Hardy wrote it as a mere npot-boil er" or fanciful sketch

to catch the eye of the public in the ma azine for hich it as

iritten. Discovering later the possibil ties in the story, Hardy

revised it for publication in 1897. e need not be surprised, there- 1

fore, to find a coincidence made-to-order, as it were, to s it the

needs of the story. Jocelyn leaves Avice II to run off with arci

hom he meets thru accident in the sto ,and is prevented from mar-

rying ithin twenty-four hou a only thru mistake in the iicen e.

At the end of the story, after the necessary number of deaths ave

returned Jocelyn to the island to fall in love ith Avice II and Ill

he is prevented from securin his ell-Beloved in the erson o

Avice III, by the accidental appearance of Le erre, the son o

cia, thru hose illness, attended all night by vie , the position

of Jocelyn and ·arcia are reversed.

It no remains for us to consider the last o r no els of H

dy, written durin the years 1886-1895, all ser'ous o hich OU

to give us the last word on Hardy's se of accident in bi novels.

On pages 162 and 163 of his book Hedgecoc p the evi ence

found in the later novels. e declares tha a fer a o er

1see Preface, .-B. 2Thesis on Comparison of Texts of The ell-Beloved - iss ary

Chase - University of innesota. 1918~

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fatalism plays a less and less important part in the work of Hardy.

In the later novels the ruin of the personages is no longer the re­

sult of some extraordinary combination of contingencies, their plans

are no longer overturned by a transcendent necessity without appeal.

Henceforward, he says, the catastrophe is brought about by the play

of characters; chance is reduced to its smallest proportions and its

intervention is no longer necessary to the denouement. In proof of

this he cites The_ ~.ayor of Casterb!id Let us examine the novel

to see how f r the prophecy is true. Hardy names the novel 'A story

of a man of character." This sub-title plus Hardy's words about

character make us feel that a ne trend has come into his thinkin •

Early in the novel when Farfrae declares it mere luck that he sue-

ceeds in business while Henchard does not, Hardy steps into the 1

novel to warn us that "most probably luck had little to 0 ith it. .

'Character is ~ate', said Noval LS , and ar rae's character s just

the reverse of Henchard's, who might not inaptly be described as

Faust has been described - as a vehement gloomy being, ho had ouit-

ted the ays of vulgar man, without light to guide hi on better

ay •IT

But we cannot at once rule out accident in this story, as

Hedgeco*ck ~ould suggest, and base it entirely upon char cter. Har­

dy's position is some hat a reversal of that in The Return o the

ative. A powerful xature manifestin itself thru a po er 1 char­

acter directs it rather than opposes it, to its ruin. Let us e a­

mine the force of character as com ared ith that of an external

force in the story. For the eighteen years since the sale of his

wife, H~nchard has been po erful enough in ill to ab de by bis oath

and rise in the world to the position of mayor of the to n. As he

discusses at the banquet the impossibility of makin bad wheat 1

of c. • 136.

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wholesome, the stranger, Farfrae, standing outside the window, over-1

hears the remark and offers to show Renchard a remedy. "Had not his

advent coincided with the discussion on corn and bread, this history

had never been enacted." Clearly Hardy intends coincidence to have

its part, but it is a coincidence which happens daily in ordinary

life itself.

But it is Henchard'-s impetuosity, not chance, which urges Far­

frae to stay, and gives him every opportunity to war' up in business

as well as to woo Elizabeth Jane. rt is then that his im etuosity

changes to jealousy augmented by the accident of the rain s oiling

his Fair celebration and sending the crowds to arfraers. s. Hen-2

chard dies after a prolonged physical weakening and Henchard in his

impulsiveness tells Elizabeth Jane she is his daughter. The same

spirit urges him to open the letters which he is requested to leave

sealed until after her marriage. He had no one to blame but himself 3

yet Hardy enters to spread an air of mystery over the scene. " he

concatenation of events this evening had produced as the scheme of

some sinister intelligence bent on punishin him. Yet they had de­

veloped naturally. (It is this Hardy insists upon in his later

novels.) If he had not revealed his past history to ·zabeth. he

would not have searched the drawer for papers and so on. he mac e

was that he should no sooner have taught the irl to claim the shel­

ter of his paternity, than he discovered her to have no kinshi ith ,,


Then it is that Henchard's character runs a ay ith him. He

turns out Elizabeth Jane - ucetta receives her. He courts Lucetta

Elizabeth Jane's change of abode introduces arfrae to her. He hires

1 • of c. , . 44.

p . 15 , n. l'1

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• Jopp as manager, turning out Farfrae. Coincidence proves Jopp to

be a Jersey man who knows Henchard's past with Lucetta. He learns

of the storm in the harvest from a prophet and buys heavily. ature

goes against him and he has to hire himself out to arfrae. In his

lack of foresight he chooses Jopp to deliver the letters to Lucetta.

The skimmity-ride results. arfrae loses ucetta but gets Elizabe

Jane. To cap the climax Fate brings Newsom on the scene, recalled

to life, and He.l'X}hard doubly loses Elizabeth Jane.

He goes off to drown himself, but even there a mystic power

thwarts him. The stuffed image used in the skimmity r"de, floats 1

down before him. "Despite this natural solution of the mystery,

Henchard no less regarded. it as an intervention that the fi e

have been floating there. lizabeth Jane heard him say, ' o is

such a reprobate as I! And yet it seems that even I be in So ebody'

hands.'" rt is this 2"persistence of the unseen" hie soi resse

Elizabeth Jane at the end of the story. 3

Yet granted tha· the sale o the ife did take pla , th re

is not a single accident in the hole novel, outs"de t e bounds o

everyday life, unless it be the return of e son d that after ell

plays a minor part in the plot. It is th ln. nal orce o ature

expressing itself thru an uncontrollable ill, hich co i te

the fatal orce of the story and hich sends enchard to his ru n.

Yet one feels that there is some exagge t·on in the r r o

4 ' t Feae-eco*ck that "c'est de l'impuissance o on see personna

l'e~arJ de leur propre ca.ract re, que • Hardy fait res ort·r \ 0

present l ' ironie de l'existence.'

• of c., p. 362.

2I id, p. 4 06.

3Ibid, eface. 4

Hedgeco*ck, p. 21 •

he character of Rene ard as

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.. 63

the same for the eighteen years before ~arfrae's arrival but cir-'

c*mstances had not occu red to ruffle it. On the othe hand, it is

significant that the two novels in 1hich ardy is most often accused

of pulling the strings, 1The Return of the ative, and

Casterbri~~· show in the chart <~. 81 . ..he fe est number of ac-

cidents, to say nothing of the extreme naturalness of the instances


he oodlanders. 1887.

Up to this time the great force opposed to he characters ·n

the serious novels of a y been ature an external op osing

force at first, an internal i~pelling orce ater.

landers e begin to feel the entrance o e po er over hi ch th , SOCL&l

characters have no control - the force i 0 ent. In the A

2 first chapter '/e learn of :::r . Percombe .... v "fate ha i n hi no

time for any but practical things. arty orked o i y or

her sick 5 but a ca.st o t e die o de ti had

father. ' othing e-

cided that the girl should handle the tool; and the in era hi ch

clasped the heavy ash ha t mi ht have skill 11 ide h encil

or s ept the string, had they only been se to do in cod i

Grace elbury .as meant b ature to be h i e o int rborn b t

education entered in tor ise her stat·on n life and t r -


Har LTTI fresses us in the firs e ch t s not it th in-

trusion o a ~re upon the plot so much s he lot' int ion u -

on Nature - its j~terference ith her e- ong plans. om no on h

is to ente co11-ti.'T1Lt4l':!J :.. to the novels to out the ct or us.

1 under the Green cod 'llree and .::.T.:....h_e~----=--~ in suchacaseas~s-.-

or are ne li ible

2 · 4 3-=-• p . . p . 9.

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arty thru ooinoid no ov rh h t G c t 11

111 ature,' s Har do not carry on he n

to uch elin en d oin y r r nd r h 0

tho e ho th 1 B d rou 0 rl in t

against the blast, the mu t ill 1 d

torm' no le th n ttle I 1 he c cl n

and omen a minor c atur 1 h ch

d ere. ar and ile 0 h il 0

d be for Gile 1 e Gr c 'Hr

ar co ld b ol 0 -con

e e t 0 al in r in h lon c

a eri 1 en al. BO

t 1r lon co r

th in 0 0

in bo •

Grae r urn

ouse, n i 1 i

the pl of ccid n

the 00 1 ds,

t r • 3 hen,

d on th 1 l

h 0 circ li

e 0 h r c

lee co l c

il n i 00

the d 0 So h h lo i co 0 0 -

1 . 19.

2r ia, ... . 21.

Brbid, p . 18 .

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ered it a few hours earlier the lease might have been renewed. 1

rs. Charmond., angered by the previous accident, refuses to renew

the holding, thereby giving Fitzpiers to Grace, a sinister occur-.

nee in view of later happenings. Giles of necessity gave up Grace 2

and left Little Hintock. "Fate, it seemed, ould have it this

way, and there was little to do but acguiesce."3

It is Mrs. Charmond's accident when driving thru the oods 4

which takes Fitzpiers to her and reveals their past relations.

"See how powerless is the human will against predestination," sys

Fitzpiers. 'We were prevented meeting; we have met. 'It is so e time

later that itzpiers' own accident brin s to his bedside the three

wc~en most closely connected ith his life,- Suke Damson,

mond, and his wife, Grace llelbury.




., p. 105. "There was no doubt that he had lost his hou es oy an accident that might easily have been circumvented 1 he had known the true conditions of his holdings."

-·' p., 111.

3 Hardy's insistence upon the powerlessness of the ch racters is very striking thruout this novel.


p. 117. -:;iitzpiers to Giles - nsuch mise able creatures of circ*mstance are we all."

p. 137. The horse runs Grace ·nto the te .arty a~ainst her will. She says to Fitzpiers, her~'s dest ny in it, ou see. r was doomed to join in your p1onio althou h I did not intend to."

p. 173. In this room sat she ho had been the aiden Grace elbury till the finger of ate touched her and turned her

into a ife."

p. 177. "Giles should have remembered that not herself but the pressure of events had dissipated the dre s of their early youth. 11

~, p. 188.

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~. - =-------=-------=-=---- ----


The return of Fitzpiers af'ter Mrs . Charmond's suicide on the

continent precipitates Grace upon Giles, who in the midst of bis

illness gives up his cottage to her, thereby causing his own death.

Two things are remarkable in the use of an external force in

this novel. In the first place, Nature has reversed her position.

She is gentle, sympathetic, brooding protectingly over her o spring

in the persons of ~arty and Giles. But her power is gone thru the

antagonism of ma.n's las. He has become his o n worst enemy. Civili

zation has raised Grace above the man intended for her by ature,and

man ' s law of copyhold has reduced Giles still lo er. The forces of

man had done their worst for Giles, but he was not crushed. ever

was he so noble as when received into the soil o his native ood-

land, lingered over by its solitary spirit left to mourn lone.

The other noticeable tendency of the boo is to lend an air

of mystery to the most commonplace accidents o the oodland. This

is probably true to the psy9hology of the oodland d ellers: yet 1

Hedgeco*ck notices it as comMon to all +he ~ovels. He declares,

"C'est ce pouvoir de sugg6rer le my ere m(ta.ph sigue Si no S pou­

vons parler ainsi, derriere les actes les plus ordinaires. qui

donne aux oeuvres de . Hardy leur cache+ a.rticulier et dist·n e

leur auteur des autres romanciers de son I e oque.

Tess of the D' Urber illes. 1891.

In Tess and Jude the fatality of environment becomes ivided

into two distinct forces - one the personal environment of

mediate family of the characte,.;~~~a't e ot~er, the external force not so mucn of ature no as of the bindin con­

ventions of society - the force of the indivjdual as op osed to the

1 Hedgeco*ck, p . 172.

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general . This comes more and more to take the pl ce of ace dent in

life ' s forces . As a single instance of the first, let us notice 1

the words of Hardy about Tess and her sisters and brothers, "All

these young souls ere passen ere in the Durbey ield ship, entirely

dependent on the judgment of the Durbe field adults for their leas­

ures, their necessities, their health, even their ex·stence. If the

heads of the Durbeyfield household chose to sail into difficulty,

disaster, starvation, disease degradation, death, thither ere

these half dozen little captives under hatches compelled to sail

with them - six helpless creatures ho never had been asked if the

ished for life on any terms - much less i they she for it on

such hard conditions as ere involved in bein of the hi tless

house of Durbeyfield." It as this force much or than the acci-

dent (altogether probable) of the killin o Prince, h·oh inal

precipitated Tess on the road to the Stoke-D'Urb rvilles in s ite

of her acquiescence in her brother's remer ' is b e be on

a blighted star and not sound one, isn' it, ess .

Thru the indolence and silly rid o her f th r~ e

thro n in a position to be taken adv t e o b t bl

Alec D' Urberville. The result is t e centr 1 tr dy o th stor

for she returns home an innocent but hel les soci 1 o tc t. o

accident enters here; but 2 A Tes ' o peo do n t o e r -

tre ts neve ti ed o s ing mong e ch other in their listic

ay: 'It as to be. ' There l ty o i . n i bl

ere er ro cial chasm ~as to divide our hero·ne's er n

that previous sel of hers ho step ed fro he o her•s oo to

try her ortune at Trantrid e poultry fa.rm. That r bl e



ciety is evident in his ords, But fo the orld' o inion those

p, 21 . • 44.

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--- ------68.

xperiences would have been simply a liberal education. Feeling he~ elf in antagonism, she was quite in accord. She had been made to II reak an accepted social law, but no law known to the environment in

she fancied herself such an anomaly."1

As to the use of accident in the novel, 2Hedgeco*ck declares it

to contain but one fortuitous accident of little mom~~lot.

ocording to our definition of accident, there a.re sixteen~for this

ovel,classified in the cha.rt on page 34. The accident to which

that of the failure of arrival of Tess' letter to Cle.re.

to the importance of the accident,we again take issue with ,

Tess had struggled with her sense of duty and triumphed,

aving written to Clare the story of her relations with D'Urberville;

ut chance intervened. By a very natural accident the letter slipped

der the carpet, and Cle.re never received it. The time had passed

and Cle.re did not learn the secret. In spite of Hedgecoc 's opinion,

his accident, however plausible, seems to play a ls.I' e part in the

lot. But for it the marriage would never have ta.ken place; he

econd tragedy might have been averted.

By spring Tess finds herself hired at lintcomb Ash to t he an

ho had insulted her in Clare's presence at Trantridge. Her despair­

~ng visit to the Cle.res follo a. It is of especial interest in the

ight of Hardy's later use of accident compared ith his earlier e -

l Other passages illustrate the same attitude. P. 90. 11 She had no fear of the shadows; her sole idea seemed to be to shun mankind or rather that cold accretion called the world, which so terrible in the mass, is so unformidable . even pitiable, in its units."

P. 318. "She was ashamed of herself for her night, based on nothing more tangible than a damnation under an arbitrary law of society foundation in nature."

2 Hedgeco*ck, p , 163.

gloom of sense of con­hich had no

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.. ployment o:f it. In the first place the Cl res are not a home, a

very li ely ha e i in the amily of a minister t noon on Sunday.

On her way she passes Clare's brothers and ercy Chaunt, so ssing

his milkmaid ife. She reaches the door and a bloody me t pa e

blo s past - all sinister but extremely natural coincidences.

realistic touch absent in the earlier novels is present here in the

meat paper. In The Hand of Ethelbert it as the bloody sun or the

crash of thunder hich arned a man from the doorstep, but not so



Again she encounters the brothers on her sorro 1 return and 1

er shoes given to the ·1ssionary barrel. 'I ace tl , ' say

Hardy, 'as the slight had been inflicte , it as ome hat un ortu­

rnte that she had encountered the sons and not the ather, ho, de­

spite his narro ness, as far less starched and ironed than th

and had to the fUll the gift o charit . She .ent on her it -

her life out knowin that the greatest mis o

n~~i~n~e_:;;;l~o~s~s__;;o_=-~c~o~u~r~a~ge1..:.-_=...;~=-__:;.;~~~~~~~~~-oment timating her father-in-la by his sons." hi last, it is e id nt,

practically li ts the incident out o the re m o ccid nt.

It is from here on in the star h t coincid nee pl s it

part, extremely late from the point o vie o plot o c s. i co r­

aged b her failure to get help fro the Claree, he ncounter lee

D'Urberville on her return to lintcomb h. Her ather'e d th

c.alls her from the oppression o lee to a orse o p es ion - h

starvation of her family. TUrned out o ho se an ho e th o

to Kingsbere, only to find their ne lod ·ngs let be o e the i 1

of their letter en a ·n them. The present iti bl icture -

satire of circ*mstances - ile spendin the ni t at t e D'Ur er-

ville vaults. Circ*mstances are too m ch for Tees and she succumbs

1 :p. 344.

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- -- ---70

to D'Urberville only to learn within a fe eeks that Clare's ill-

ness has converted him, that he has not received her letters, and hd

arrive~ ioo late. In the end, Hardy tells us 1"Justice as done,

and the President of the Immortals had ended his last s ort ith

Tess. And the D'Urberville knights and dames slept on in their

tombs unkno ing." It is the last sentence hich reveals the ..Ll':iln.~~

irony of Tess 1 story and the nature o the forces against

hich is too frequently overlooked in the general quarrel ov • ~~e

meaning of Hardy's fi rative manne of addressin in ersoni ied

form the sinister forces of the story. Here a ain at re · s sooth- ,

ing and riendly, but the con entionali ies o the church and o

society at large embo ied in the bi otry of n el Cl e ere orces

against hich Tess, ho e er innocent, po1erles hen hu led in-

to their hostile meshes by the very nature of h r i edi t environ


Jude, The Obscure. 1895.

The forces at or in Jude are such as most precl de ac-

cident in the sense in hich e ha e ollo d ·t t u th novel

The hero is a child le t to tbe mercies of a moro e ola aunt, d

inheriting from his parents a morbidity and s n ibili y o t e -

ament founded largely upon the marria heir 11 es.

From the very first Hardy she s hi il -fated - the icti

stern determinism. He allo e the birds to ee upon armer

land, and hen caught, eeps not because o h hment in 1 ct-

ed on him, but "from the perception of the fla; in the ter estria.J. 2

h h t d Or God 's bir s as bad or God' scheme by wb.ic a as goo

gardener . n

1 Tess, p . 457. 2-

Jude, p . 11.

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His was a predestined sad end, not because the tes ere

against him particularly, but because his character la.eke the

strength to compete ith the forces of life set oin by civiliz d

society. 1"This eakness of character, as it may be called, sug est-

ed that he was the sort of man 0 s born to che a good e 1 be-

fore the fall of the curtain upon his unnecessary life

nify that all a.s ell ith hi again. '

ould sig-

The real strug le in the story is gain to be one o character

Shall Jude's judgment and finer ineals in out or shall the sensu

have an overwhelming place in his career? His ere the ideals o

scholar and a philosopher based upon a firm belief in the c urch

athers. But just as he is about to realize his hopes of oin to 2

Chris tminst er, he meets Are.bell . ".he unvoiced c 11 o oman to

man hich was uttered very distinctly by rab 11 's erson lity le

Jude to her side against his intention ...•.. In short, as ate i

ally a coI!lJ?elling arm of ext ao di ry muscular po er seized hold o

him - something hich had nothin in comma ith the spirits d in-

fluences that had moved him hitherto. his seemed to care little

or his reason or his ill, nothing for his so-c lled elev ted ·n-

tentions - and moved him along, as

boy he has seized b the collar, in

violent schoolmaste school-

di ectio hie tend to rd

the embrace of om or horn he h no res ect d hose 11

had nothin in common ith his o e cept locali It s thi

inherent temperament and this P sical e nee ioh to eth ith

its opposing force, the conventions o soc·ety take the place o

external accident in this last of ard 's no els.

1 ~,

2 Ibid,

S Ibid,

• 12.

• 41.

p. 45.

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By a very n ural coincidence he overhears the loud talking

of Arabella's friends in the roadside hut, and his separation ram

her results.

Next he meets his cousin, Sue Bridehead, and his idealistic 1

temperament responds to hers. It is in this connection that the one

important accident o the book occurs. The co ple miss the train

hich will return them to Christminster from the elk in the country

and are forced to spend the night in the shepherd's cott e. rt is

this accident, a very usual one in eve day li e, hie causes Sue

disgrace at the raining School, her flight to Jude's room for the

night, and her consequent marriage ith n'llotson.

ram that point on enters the reat conflictin fo ce of th

story, namely social convention as e em lified b legal marri e. 2

To Jude 'there seemed vagu.el nd dimly somethin rong in a soci 1

ritual ~hich made necessary a cancelli of ell-fo ed schemes in-

valving years o thought and 1 bor, of foregoing am 's one o por-

tunity of sho in himsel superior to the lo er animals and o n-

tributing bis units of ork to the eneral pro ess of h' ner -

tion because of a momentary surprise y ne d transitory in-

"tinct hich had nothin in it o the nature of v ce and could be

only at the most called ea ess. e s inclined to inaui e h t h

had done or s e, for that matt r, th t he deser to be c in

gin hich ould cripple hi if not er 1 o for he res o li


To sue it as simpl a horrible scheme b hich a oman could

entrap a man, togethe ith the other ide e pressed in her a ds

1 Hedgeco*ck (p. 163) declares J de to contain no accident t all, but this seems to us to play a lar e part in the story.

2 Jude, p. 67.

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1 to Jude: "I think I should begin to be afraid of you, Jude, the

moment you had contracted to cherish me under a Government stamp

and I was licensed to be loved on the premises by you."

From that point on, the story is simply that of the reaction

of social convention and social injustice upon the two characters,

so that in the end they are crushed to submission, havin reversed

their theological positions thru the interaction of their characters

They were doomed to failure from the start, not · y the malevolence

of an external or accidental force, but by the inhe ent character o

each which they made no attempt to control. The fatality and pes-

simism of the book lie in the striking remark of little ather ime,

2 "~hen if children make so much trouble, why do people have them?

e don't ask to be born!n Again Sue sums up the matter in her petu-

lant exclamation: 31There is somethin external to us ich S B,

'You sha'n't!' irst it said, 'You sha.'n't learn!' Then it said,

'You sha'n't labor!' ~o it sa, s ,

rely is, 41 othing can be done.

'You sha'n't love!'

Thin s e as they

11 J de's onl

e, d ill

be brought to their destined issue." In sp ite of these re ar s, it

is not this vie entirely hich is emphasized b the picture rdy

draws. The senti entality and perverted ideas of ue Bridehead e

the real cause fort e do f 11 of the cha acters. There ·s nothin

in the story, not even the orce of heredity, hich so bin s h m

that they cannot control their o destinies if they ill. t

is a.t the price of conformity ith conventio } d this is he price

1 Jude, p. 306. 2

Ibid, p. 396. 3

Ibid, p. 401.

4 Ibid, p. 403.

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74. ===========================:=i they will not pay until it is too late. 1

VI. Summary and Conclusion.

In conclusion, then, it may be said) in the first place , that

with Hardy, the use of accident is as much a matter of artistic ef­

fect as it is of plot force or even of philosophical bias. such co­

incidences as the melting of the image of Eustacia at the time of

her death) and the death of the goldfinch of ichael Henchard are

symbolic and are used entirely for artistic effect. Even the double

happenings of A Pair of Blue Eyes are of more value for structural

unity and oneness of tone than for their contribution to the plot

of the novel. On the whole at least one third of the accidents of

!Hardy's novels are for artis~ic effect primarily.

The following table reveals Hardy's use of accident from t he

first novel to the last: Total Total Total for for of

Plot. Artistic all. Effect.

1871 Desperate Remedies 19 13 32

1872 Under the Green ood Tree 1 0 1

1873 A Pair of Blue Eyes 11 20 31

1874 Far from the adding Crowd 12 4 16

1876 The Hand of Ethelberta 21 7 28

1878 The Return of the ative 7 4 11

(con . ) l It is worth noting that of the five accidents liste

in the chart (p.34) for the plot of Jude, three are sud­den appearances or disappearances of characters such as Arabella and Father Time, and the death of Arabella's husband. These may be attributed entirely to a lack o art due to the fact that the philoso hy of Jude ran a ay with the author to such an extent that it i'SO'iie of the least artistic works he has produced.

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(Cont. ) Total Total Total for for of

Plot. Artistic all. Effect.

1880 Trumpet Major 6 0 6

1881 The Laodicean 13 5 18

1882 Two on a Tower 15 3 18

1886 The Mayor of Casterbridge 7 1 8

1887 The Woodlanders 9 9 18

1891 Tess of the D'Urbervilles 8 8 16

1892 The Well-Beloved 10 3 13

1895 Jude the Obscure 5 8 13

Total 144 85 229

It is clear from these figures that numerically there is no

constant lessening of the use of accident in the novels of Hardy

from the first to the last. That could scarcely be possible in

the case of a series of novels so unequal in value and in serious-

ness of purpose. However, omitting from the list the idyl Unde

the Greenwood Tree, and the sketch, The Trumpet jar we ma di-

vide the novels into two groups chronologically; the first six from

1871 thru 1881, and the second group of six fro 1882 hru 1895.

e have in the first group three novels having 32, 31, and 28 aooi-

dents respectively; whereas in the second group) l8 is the ea test

number employed. The first group varies from 32 to 11, nd th

second from 18 to 8. This indicates clearly that Hardy used cci­

dent as such.much more freely in his earlier novels than he di in

the later ones. More important still is the fact that the nature and i or-

tance of the accidents employed vary greatly froo the first novel ~o

the last. Referring to the table on page 34, we find no instance employs the firat

later than The Hand of Ethelberta in which Har Of the cla 8

.) nee of the t ain.

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general coincidence,in which accidental forces form the basis of the

plot, we have no instance outside of Desperate Remedies and A Pair

of Blue Eyes, the first and the third of the novels. That of The

Well-Beloved has been proved to be used entirely in the interests of

dramatic economy. Of the third categorY, large accidents playing an

important part in the plot, 4 instances are in the first group and 2

in the seoond. Again, of the 16 accidents in Tess, 4 are songs and

stories, and 2 superstitions used for artistic effect alone; while

of the 13 accidents in Jude, 3 are sudden appearances or disappear­

ances which m83' be attributed to a lack of art in the handling of

a deeply phi losophical theme, and four are co on accidents of every

day life, such as the missing of a train, the overhearinf of a con-

versation, and the coming up of a storm. rom this i t is clear

that with the decrease of the importance of the accident in the

plot there comes also an increase in the probability of it from

the first group of novels to the second.

Character tends to play a larger and larger part in t he lots.

In the earlier group, ~F~a_r....;.;..fr~o~m;;;.....t_h~e__;;=-d-~d~i~n~g._;;C_r_o~d and The Retur n of

the Native alone have character hich live as vital forces in he

essex novels, hereas in the second OU e have t h vor of

II Casterbridp:e. Giles inter borne. Tess of the D' Urbervi lleS. and

Jude and Sue. This is due, of course, to the development of t h u­

thor's power of characterization, hich, ho ever, has been shown to

vary inversely with his introduction of accident into the plot.

For further evidence, in tracing the development of H rd 's

attitude toward accident in the novels, e have shown that certain

novels may be selected as the con ciously serious orks of t he au­

thor and those upon which rests his fame as a novelist. or these

we may tabulate the accidents separately:

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Under the Greenwood Tree

Far from the Madding Crowd

The Return of the Native

The myor of Casteroridge

The Woodla.nders

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Jude the Obscure



Kind of Accident

Convergence of TWin

Big General Coincidence

Large Accident

Smal.l at opening


rong License

Miss Train

overhearin conversation EtJd..i~ ~eie Accident














Appears.no e and Disa.P e ra.nc e 3

storm 3


Accidents for Art Plot

0 1

4 12

4 7

1 7

9 9

8 8

8 5

34 49 -----


Kind of Accident


nor for effect

Minor Ironies Q.,,. f?LI c.o. ftlin ofn_Sc e-n e.s J)o~~le Hap,en g&




Songs and Stories

Tot 1







13 -----83










In comparison with the less serious novels/we may say that in

the more serious novels Hardy repudiates the use of external acci­

dent in the action of his plots except in cases which are trtte to


4i~:;··--··· ······-~---~·-·······-·-· - [PDF Document] (84)


the actual circ*mstances of daily life, and centers his attention

upon the great characters of his novels and their conflict with

their environment. In the above table of accidents al.most one-half

of the coincidences are for artistic effect, working neither good

nor ill to the characters, but adding largely to the aesthetic appea

of · the novel - the story of the D'Urberville coach, comprising t o

of them. Of the other accidents common to every day life there are

forty nine, surely not more than we should expect in a similarlengt

of time and during the given period of the lives of any twenty-seven

people, to mention only the most important characters. rt would be

an interesting study to compare t his number with the work of the so­

called realists. It is doubtful whether Hardy would appear extreme.

As to our table of accidents (p. 34) the only example of Con­

vergence of the Twain is the very natural one of the converging pre­

parations for Boldwood's party. The second category of accidents

which form the basis of the entire plot has no place in the serious

novels. The third class, large accidents pl ying an important part

in the plot,includes Venn's misunderstanding about the money, Eu­

stacia' a failure to open the door to Mrs. Yeobright, Joseph Poor­

grass' delay with the coffin, and Tess' accidental slipping of the

letter under the rug instead of under the door. There is nothin

in any one of these accidents which is strange, fantastical, or 1th

out the bounds of the most serious realistic novelist. As to the

care and realistic detail with which Hardy introduces them, e have

already spoken. Indeed, the reason for Hardy's appearing as a rooan­

ticist to so many of his readers, is not so much his extr va ant use 1 11 ~

of accident as it is the fact that the "realistic dream country 0.1. )

his novels is so much a "dream" country to most of us, that the

homely ~-ressex characters living as they do so 11 far from the madding

1 F. M. c., Preface of 1895. \\

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crowd~ have cast over them the veil of romance so far as we crea­

tures of the city are concerned.

Finally, we have traced thru the novels of Hardy from the

first to the last1 several changes in his philosophy of accident

in life. He begins in his earlier less serious work with the in­

troduction of an unforeseen force from without; which swoops down

upon his characters and moves the lifeless creatures at will. But

it is not long before this grotesque force disappears. e cannot

tell what it symbolizes. Hardy seems to be questioning it himself.

By the time of Far from the Madding Crowd it seems to be Har dy 's 1

aim to have these forces intrude in as1"natural and unobtrusive" I a manner as possible. They are subordinate to the characters, who

are beginning to be forces in themselves, unrecognized i n the nov-

els before exce pt faintly in A Pair of Blue Eyes. By t he t ime of

The Return of the Native the characters are not so static as for­

merly, and are real agencies, developing with the plot. The ener­

al force of a brooding and hostile Nature now takes form i n t he

novels as symbolized by the Titanic Egdon Heath. I t is t his force ,,,

developing simultaneously with the stren th of his c aracters~ hich

makes the struggle of this novel the most dramatically terri ble of

any he has written. Yet the accidents are not extravagant as be­

fore. They grow naturally out of the circ*mstances about them, a

fact which intensifies the cruelty of the struggle. It has been

already noted that accident likewise enters late in the novel after

the forces of character have acted and reacted upon each other.

In The Mayor of casterbridge accident plays a less important

part still, Nature now assuming the role of an inner impelling

1 F. M. C., p. 348.

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force rather than an external one. 1 Character itself becomes fate

tho not so surely perhaps as in Jude.

In the last four novels, Nature reverses her position. She

becomes the friend of man, whereas social environment and heredity

handicap him. It is now the creatures of Nature who suffer from

the laws of civilization and the conventions of society. In The

Woodlanders the position of the characters is determined at birth

and their struggles to rise bring disaster. In Tess the evils of

her home surroundings send her out innocently to sin against socie­

ty, in the face of whose conventions she cannot rise; while in

Jude the inherited characteristics of the individuals make them

incapable of meeting the obligations established t hru the conven­

tions of society, its class distinctions, and its laws for the

general well-being of humanity.

1 It will be noted how these statements are modified slightly in the discussion of the novel itself.

4i~:;··--··· ······-~---~·-·······-·-· - [PDF Document] (2024)


Can ChatGPT 4 read PDF documents? ›

Can GPT-4 read a PDF? Yes, GPT-4 can read a PDF file. However, you need to pay USD20 per month to upgrade to ChatGPT Plus.

Can ChatGPT 4 read PDF reddit? ›

Ever since the fiasco that happened a few days ago Chat GPT 4 has lost all abilities to read documents. No matter what format (PDF, . docx, txt, ppt , ect). It will simply return "Error reading documents".

Can GPT-4 understand PDF? ›

No requirement to train a custom model: GPT-4 Vision is a pre-trained model that can be used to extract structured data from PDF documents without the need to train a custom model for your specific document types.

Why won't ChatGPT read my PDF? ›

There is problem that you need to be aware of: Files uploaded via chat have a 3 hour window to be accessed by GPTs. You should upload new documents when the time comes. And should note that GPTs currently avoid repeating or reproducing text from documents you provide.

Can ChatGPT answer questions from a PDF? ›

ChatGPT will use its natural language processing capabilities to understand your questions and generate answers based on the content of your PDF document.

Can ChatGPT read a PDF and summarize it? ›

Reading a PDF is a time-consuming and tedious task, but you don't have to worry because you can summarize any PDF with ChatGPT. Summarizing PDFs with ChatGPT can be a bit of a hassle, but it will take less time than reading the entire PDF.

Can ChatGPT-4 read word documents? ›

To wrap up the discussion, we learned the functionality of ChatGPT in this article in reading, creating, formatting, and summarizing Word documents. However, while ChatGPT can read Word documents, it has some drawbacks. The Alpha model is still in the beta version, so it is full of glitches and bugs.

What is the size limit for GPT-4 PDF? ›

What are those file upload size restrictions? All files uploaded to a GPT or a ChatGPT conversation have a hard limit of 512MB per file.

What GPT-4 Cannot do? ›

GPT4, once trained, does not change during use. It doesn't learn from its mistakes nor from correctly solved problems. It notably lacks an optimization step in problem-solving that would ensure previously unsolvable problems can be solved and that this problem-solving ability persists.

How many pages can ChatGPT 4 read? ›

GPT4 128k model supports about 200+ pages of information. This would solve your issue. but its pricey per question.

How to get ChatGPT to analyze a document? ›

Alongside memory, it's good to remember that ChatGPT can also use existing file-upload capabilities to analyze text and images. You just drag and drop a file into the chat window, such as a PDF or a JPEG, add a prompt if you like, and ChatGPT will start to produce some text output based on what you've uploaded.

Can ChatGPT 4 read images? ›

Visual inputs: The key feature of the newly released GPT-4 Vision is that it can now accept visual content such as photographs, screenshots, and documents and perform a variety of tasks. Object detection and analysis: The model can identify and provide information about objects within images.

How do I chat with a PDF in ChatGPT? ›

How to chat with PDF online?
  1. Step 1 Upload A PDF File. Upload or drag-and-drop the PDF file onto HiPDF's Chat with PDF Page.
  2. Step 2 AI Analyzes PDF. Upon uploading, HiPDF will start analyzing your PDF, extracting its key information.
  3. Step 3 Chat with PDF. Chat with the PDF by asking your questions and receiving answers.

Which AI can read PDF? ›

Best AI PDF Tools: Feature Comparison
AI PDF ToolPrice
🥇Adobe Acrobat$12.99/Month
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Mar 31, 2024

Can GPT-4 read papers? ›

To enable the GPT-4 model to read documents and respond based on them in your Flask application, you need to modify your code to incorporate document processing. Here's a suggested approach: Store and Process Documents: You'll need to store the documents you want GPT-4 to read and find a way to process them.

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