Family and Anti- Family in Selected Novels by Thomas Hardy
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This dissertation is an attempt to examine Thomas Hardy’s Marxist ideas in tackling family issues. It implies that the author did not stand apart from the new thoughts brought by socialist philosophers, and venture to say that he was their mouthpiece. Hardy’s questioning of the bourgeois family and the heralding of the Marxist views such as Engels’ in the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, are conveyed by portraying families completely different from the Victorian cliché. Hardy’s portrayal suggests his divergence from the views of that time. He seems against the idealisation of the family which he depicts as an economic institution governed by the patriarchal –capitalist ideology and man’s dominance. I have tried to make it explicit that Hardy’s criticism of the capitalist system and the Bourgois family has known a gradual development. I have suggested that it is through the Mayor of Casterbridge , Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure that one can trace the ways Hardy both scrutinizes and questions the Victorian family within a capitalist ideology by examining family kinship and human relationship. In addition, conjugal problems and family burden are two major elements tackled in the novels stated above. The analysis of the Mayor of Casterbridge is an attempt to show the author’s anxiety about the system which gives the husband the absolute right to sell his wife and daughter. In the study of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, I have tried to render the author’s overt protest against capitalism and patriarchy by which the lower class is exploited by the bourgeoisie and children by their parents. The analysis of Jude the Obscure is devoted to the examination of Hardy’s overt attack on the marital laws and his seemingly advocation of free cohabitation and the abolition of the family. Yet Hardy’s confusing attitude can be grasped in the three analysed novels. In the Mayor of Castrebrigde, the author presents the most striking scene in the Victorian literature; the wife Sale scene. It is thanks to this that one can notice his hostility towards the patriarchal system. Nevertheless the end of the novel reveals Hardy’s enculturation of the same Victorian values. Indeed Farfrea’s marriage with Elisabeth –Jane is a genuine picture of a bourgeois marriage. In Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the author portrays Tess as a fallen woman who deserves punishment, and in Jude the Obscure, though at the beginning, he exposes liberal ideas concerning women and family, at the end, the author reproduces the same Victorian ethics which he has criticised earlier. This is due to the weight of the rigid values which the novelist cannot transcend easily.