I’m thankful that I come at Thomas Hardy’s books after reading lighter topics from other writers because Hardy’s works are challenging. It feels like I have been trained for some years before taking the real adventure of literature.
And fortunately, I unintentionally pick up “Far from the Madding Crowd” as the starter that perfectly suits my mood and expectations at that time. This pleasant impression makes me wanting to read another novel. I can’t imagine what would happen should I select “Jude the Obscure” as the opener. May be I would never become Hardy’s biggest fan like I am.
For me, or may be for some, reading Hardy’s books require the readers to entirely focus on the books because these four aspects can be the greatest challenges, which, once you can overcome them all, you’ll want more and more instead:
- Highly specific, powerful, implicit descriptions
Hardy is the worshiper of nature. He loves describing what nature has to offer. While the readers are wowed by his rich vocabulary, driven to get into his imaginary world, they may be puzzled with what they signify. Honestly, after reading some of his books, I can’t always associate the depictions with what he wants to convey. I am still on the surface when it comes at this kind of thing. Or in another word, my ability is still at the surface; enjoying his expressions, word per word. Not yet deeper than that.
- Digging so deep into major characters
Characterization is definitely Hardy’s most unbelievable mastery. He never lets any slightest parts of his major characters left untouched. Reading his novels means you really learn the major figures in the books. You feel as if they were real people. Hardy never fails at presenting the big names on the books as normal human beings, with all of their flaws, mistakes, stupidity, greatness, and such. Again, I applaud Hardy’s ‘Micheal Henchard’, he remains my most favorite fictitious character of all time.
Learning each of his major character in such personal ways makes the readers feeling ‘so complete’. And to enjoy this, the readers must devote a lot of time not only to understand the major characters’ motives but also to imagine what if they were in their positions. You know what the most precious lesson that I draw after reading his major characters? I have no right to judge. I become much more tolerable to other people because each and every one of them has reasons for what they do.
- Breaking the hearts when it comes to the conclusion
Spoiler alert: Hardy’s books are not for romance enthusiasts. Those wishing happily live ever after may find his novels are a disappointment despite the fact that he falls under the Victorian Era writer which is identical with love stories. I have only read his popular books but I think my experiences may support my findings that even if his novel ends with a marriage or a union, some holes left unfulfilled. His finales are complete, meaning that some characters end up living their lives in happy modes, but some are not. You can even find that some of his most enduring heroes or heroines are dead. ‘Tess’ is the best example for this.
- Unthinkable bleak, gloomy view of life
If you have read ‘Jude the Obscure’, you know what I mean. Until now, I still wonder what’s on his mind when composing the book. Do all that happen following Jude and Sue’s ‘illegal union’ reflect his opinions about the society? That once you go against public wishes you’ll get the wicked of all? The death of their illegitimate child, the return of Sue to her formal husband is beyond my understandings. Then, eventually, Jude intentionally takes no care of his own life, return to his former legal wife and dies slowly. Here are my thoughts about his perspective: Rebellious, stubborn, realistic cum naive and hopeless.