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Religious Skepticism in the Poetry of Thomas Hardy - Essay Example

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Religious Skepticism in the Poetry of Thomas Hardy

The two poems previously mentioned prove to be excellent examples for this discussion.
The point of views used in both of these poems are carefully crafted to induce a sense of proximity in the reader. The choice of first person in "Hap" immediately forces the reader to identify with the narrator. Moreover, the only other personalities listed are "some vengeful god" (1) or "Doomsters" (13), either of which is decidedly adverse characters, thereby strengthening the reader's empathy with the narrator's sense of torment. "The Convergence of the Twain," however, instead uses a limited third person point of view, thus describing all of the imagery from a distant detached perspective. Above water, this would be described as a bird's eye point of view; beneath the water, it must be viewed from the eye of a fish. Not only its depth below the waterline then distances the scene, but also the alien logic of the animal mind. Considering the religious overtones involved, there are also allusions to the miracle of fish multiplying of the masses to eat: yet here the people are lost, the fish is never caught, and perhaps, by inference, there is no Savior present. For the point of view is only a method by which Hardy discusses his themes of religious skepticism.
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sorrow would be easier to accept were it known to be directly stemming from divine displeasure, "that a Powerfuller than I / Had willed and meted me the tears I shed." (7-8). But the turn of thought, or "volta", in the poem declares it not so. Faith has been tainted by Reason and Logic. The process of scientific observation demands causality, a means of cause and effect, and the only credible source is what can be observed and repeated. If such is the case, then the narrator realizes he is just as likely to experience happiness as sorrow; if only the "Doomsters" (13), who are partially blind to the possibility of happiness, would stop drawing his attention to the pain in Life. The distance provided in "The Convergence of the Twain" implies a more questioning approach to the wreck of the Titanic. The "Pride of Life" (3) lies now at the bottom of the ocean, its riches covered in sea-worms and darkness. An iceberg designed by an "Immanent Will" (18) sank this ship, a symbol of mankind's industriousness and intelligence. On the surface, this would seem to imply a begrudging admission of faith from Hardy. But given his history of religious skepticism, other interpretations prove more applicable. For the ship and iceberg represent Science and Religion, the result of their crashing together can only be the sinking of mankind's faith. This loss is what truly "jars two hemispheres." (33) being both the Earthly and the Heavenly spheres. For Hardy rarely intends the reader to take his words at face value, but rather to impart some comment through the symbolic archetypes available through psychoanalysis. Because Hardy instills every aspect of his poems with multiple levels, even his form of writing must be examined.
For whether Hardy concedes the pattern of a Great ...Show more

Summary

Thomas Hardy's poetry is permeated with the religious skepticism that grew predominant through the course of his life. His early works, such as the poem "Hap," serves as a precursor to the rise of both science and psychoanalysis, while such later poems as "The Convergence of the Twain," written about the sinking of the Titanic in April of 1912, shows the definite influence of both these studies…
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