Nature and Humanity
Historically speaking, the idea of ‘nature’ underwent profound changes during the nineteenth century, largely as a result of the ways in which science radically modified perceptions of the natural world. For Wordsworth (a poet much admired by Hardy), at the beginning of the century, nature was a moral guide and a source of wholesome influences: humanity could and should live in harmony with nature. But Tennyson, at the mid-century, famously characterized nature as ‘red in tooth and claw’, with its creatures existing in a state of relentless and competitive savagery: humanity was admirable only in so far as it had risen above the brutal appetites of the natural world.
KeywordsNatural World Human Feeling Moral Guide Traditional Pastoral Rural Activity
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