Thomas Hardy

(1840-1928)

 

Hardy was Englishman who attended local schools until the age of 15.  He then was apprenticed to an architect with whom he worked for six years.  At the age of 21 he went to London to practice as an architect.  However, he was interested in writing and his first novel was rejected in 1868 but he did not give up and eventually became a famous author.

 

Men and women in the fiction produced by Hardy are not masters of their fates; they are at the mercy of the indifferent forces which manipulate their behavior and their relations with others; but they can achieve dignity through endurance, and heroism through simple strength of character.  Men and women in the novels of Thomas Hardy are driven by the demands of their own nature as much as by anything from outside them.  His novels include: Jude the Obscure, Under the Greenwood Tree, Tess of the D'Urbervilles (made into the movie entitled "Tess"), and The Dynasts. 

 

One of his poems that I have long enjoyed is entitled  "Hap" which means "chance" which is below for your study:

 

Hap

 

If but some vengeful god would call to me

From up the sky, and laugh: "Thou suffering thing,

Know that they sorrow is my ecstasy,

That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"

 

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,

Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;

Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I

Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.          (meted = given)

 

(Here Hardy is saying: "Hey, I could understand all the pain life presents to a person IF God was the one that was causing it for God's benefit."  But in the first three words of the next part of the poem Hardy says that God is not the one causing the pain.)

 

But not so.  How arrives it joy lies slain,

And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?

---Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,

And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan…

These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown

Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.

 

 

 

(Hardy proclaims that it is "hap", "chance", "crass casualty" that is causing the pain---or the bliss.  It comes down to luck, the toss of the dice, more than anything else.  Hardy is not ignorant of other forces; however, he sees luck as the principle force.  Although he wrote this over 100 years ago and we have learned a great deal about human nature since then; his argument still has considerable merit.  Think about it.  What has been the power of luck in your life?  

 

Luck determined your birth order, the parents you have, the significant other mates in your life, the era into which you happened to be born as well as the nation of your birth…..the list goes on endlessly…..luck significantly influences everything that happens to you---both the good and the bad.  Hardy is simply calling this to your attention as it is a very important thing to keep in mind.  We often take credit for what luck has delivered to our door when it is positive and then blame everyone else when luck delivers a mess to the door.

 

Yes, you influence how you respond to what luck brings to the door.  When bad luck arrives you can learn from it so that it can actually become a blessing.  When good luck arrives you can elect to not take it for granted.

 

Yes, you can also influence what is likely to come to the door.  If you drink and drive then you are encouraging bad luck to come visiting.

 

Yes, you can join with others and build a more just society so that bad luck is less likely to happen.