Thomas Hardy's Victorian Gothic: Reassessing Hardy's fiction and his Gothic sensibility
Although critical commentary over the last century has tended to dismiss the Gothic strains in Thomas Hardy's fiction, this dissertation proposes that these Gothic conventions offer insight into his artistic vision and add to the power of his fictions. The realism and naturalism in his novels have been vastly overplayed at the expense of the more sensational, irrational elements. Hardy's fiction exhibits a strong classical Gothic sensibility that more closely addresses the true nature of his vision. As a Victorian writer trying to appeal to the social mores and literary tastes of his time, Hardy's Gothic sensibility led to his creation of a new form of the Gothic, a Victorian Gothic.^ Giving both a synopsis of the Gothic tradition and Hardy's connection to it, this thesis explores the Gothic elements in selected short stories and the major and minor novels and how such elements intrude on the illusion of a realistic portrayal. Strong emphasis is placed on the blending of Gothic romanticism with late nineteenth century realism in the major novels, an intermixture which heightens the thematic and dramatic effects with which Hardy was concerned.^ With this background, we can better assess the fiction in ways not done before. A deeper look at his use of Gothic conventions allows modern readers to undercut the historical barrage of critical controversy concerning Hardy's place in English letters. It allows for a reassessment of his literary vision and his style and offers a plausible approach to his art. ^
Norma Walrath Goldstein,
"Thomas Hardy's Victorian Gothic: Reassessing Hardy's fiction and his Gothic sensibility"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).