Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mother Nature

So I've finished 'Far From The Madding Crowd' and I have had a thought...

Hardy writes books with women at the centre of them but they are intrinsically flawed. The women seem to be the reason a man makes bad decisions. But Hardy is also interested in nature and the natural world. He sees nature as female. Are his female characters Mother Nature, flawed? Seducing men away from their lives??

Answers and observations on a postcard or large bar of Green & Blacks!!


Julie said...

I like that connection, but actually I think that Hardy doesn't quite equate nature to women in such a straightforward way. According to some Victorian beliefs, women were intrinsically closer to nature because they bore children and were more "natural"--eg less analytical and intelligent, "cultural". I think he buys into that to a certain extent.

But I also think that he sees nature as fundamentally *different* to human beings, of either gender--that society throws up all sorts of rules and sorrows that nature does not share. That, on the other side of the coin, nature also has no morality, and assigns no value to individiual lives.

On the other hand, he is constantly using nature to express characters' feelings. So he confuses the issue somewhat.

Julie said...

I also don't think that Hardy shows only women as intrinsically flawed. Bathsheba is flawed; she's vain, capricious, and thoughtless. But Boldwood wouldn't have acted as he did, had he been a balanced human being. And Troy is a bad 'un through and through, with Bathsheba or without. And Oak...sigh....well, Oak makes no bad decisions. He is lovely. :-)

In Tess, it's the men who contribute to Tess's downfall...her seducer Alec, and her hypocritical husband Angel. She sins, but the men are worse.

There. Did you want a dissertation? ggg What do you think?

Biddy said...

His writing definitely seems to buy into women being less analytical and intelligent.

His nature did seem to have no morality and was elemental but he uses the nature and the forces of nature to mirror the characters internal and external struggles. But that is quite a frequent tool that writers use.

Anyway thanks for getting me to read it!! Now which Hardy book should I read next??

Biddy said...

I just felt from the writing that the men would not have acted the way they did except a woman "made" them. OK I agree Troy was a bad'un through and through but supposedly he was fine excpet with women... if I remember correctly.

Kate Allan said...

Far From The Madding Crowd is a story about a vain, selfish, dymanic woman who ends up with a boring, staid, uninspiring man for no discernable reason. I don't buy it. A better Hardy story is The Major of Casterbridge or Jude the Obscure.

Julie said...

Gabriel Oak?!??!?! Boring, staid, and uninspiring!??!?!?! Shock horror! Surely you mean (quietly) passionate, responsible, faithful, unwavering, brave, and resourceful?

(I do agree with your assessment of Bathsheba, though.)

I agree, Biddy, Hardy's women are less intellectual than the men.

Biddy said...

I think Julie has a thing for Mr Oak!!

Wooooo!!! Literary discussion in MY Blog!! *comes over all of a dither*

Kate Hardy said...

One of the things I remember from Hardy's life (or a critical viewpoint of it) is that he started out as a traditionalist and ended up as an iconoclast. Mayor of Casterbridge is excellent. Jude, I haven't touched since uni (and I'm not sure if I can handle the "done because we are too menny" scene - no typos there - I'll let Julie or Kate A explain that). But Return of the Native is one of my favourites. Diggory Venn. Now there's an interesting hero.