The Context of Hardy’s Fiction
The mainstream tradition of the English novel, from Defoe in the early eighteenth century at least until the time of the Modernists some two hundred years later, has always been strongly sociological. In other words, with a few notable exceptions (such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights), it has used the conventions of formal realism to present a kind of ‘working model’ of society, depicting characters in relation to their social roles as well as their inner psychology. Such notable Victorian examples as Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, Dickens’s Bleak House, George Eliot’s Middlemarch and the political novels of Trollope present largely urban settings in which those at different social levels are involved in different kinds of work (or sometimes idleness), and the plots are often driven by tensions arising from social roles or from attempts to transcend the boundaries of class.
KeywordsEarly Eighteenth Century Intellectual Context Acute Awareness Tragic Drama Mainstream Tradition
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