Recovering the rural: form, dialect and society in poetry of Thomas Hardy

Hawkins, H., 2018. Recovering the rural: form, dialect and society in poetry of Thomas Hardy. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

In this thesis I identify the limited research into Hardy's use of dialect and metre in his poetry. I argue that critics assume a narrow textual approach that disregards Hardy’s broad thematic, linguistic and metrical range. To redress this anomaly, I propose a broader critical methodology which reflects and accommodates the multi-faceted nature of Hardy's poems. I employ a combination of post-colonialism and textual criticism to place Hardy's work in its socio-historic and textual contexts. Intrinsic to this study is an acknowledgement of the cultural and linguistic disparities between Victorian social classes and the cultural subjugation of the rural labouring class by the middle and landowning classes.

I conduct an examination of Victorian prosodic and philological debates in relation to Hardy's poetry. I demonstrate that Hardy was familiar with these debates and fuses standard poetic devices and language with the non-standard devices and dialect of his native rural culture. In doing so, Hardy proposes the equality of rural and urban cultures in order to reclaim rural culture from the subjugation of the dominant urban centre. I propose that this fusion reflects increasing nineteenth- century urbanisation and renders rural culture inherent to Victorian social evolution. Conversely, I consider whether Hardy's fusion of cultures articulates growing anxiety expressed by Victorian liberals regarding the morality and maintenance of the British empire. I argue that the increased Victorian interest in philology indicates a middle-class desire to return to pre-imperial identities.

I demonstrate that Hardy's poetry assumes an anti-imperialist stance in which he contends that all empires fail and result in the loss of imperial identities. His migration poems provide a detached view of society in which non-fixation of identities becomes possible. My multi-theoretical stance permits Hardy's multi-cultural understanding of society, which he articulates through dialect and standard English, and speaks for all mankind.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Hawkins, H.
Date: February 2018
Rights: This work is the entire work and intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 12 Oct 2018 11:03
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 11:04
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/34660

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