Religious Skepticism in the Poetry of Thomas Hardy

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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.


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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