UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Something good comes out of Wessex : feminist voices in Thomas Hardy Cimmarrusti, Magdalena Kristina


Hardy is often maligned by feminist readers for his portrayals of women who are punished for their refusal to submit to the patriarchal law. However, far from reasserting anti-feminist notions of women and womanhood, Hardy uses his heroines to challenge the patriarchal structuring of a society that does not recognize women's words, women's passions, or women's possibilities. Bathsheba, Tess, and Sue confront the issues of language, sexuality, and marriage from a feminist perspective, and force the reader to recognize the artificiality of the systems which uphold man as the center of a society in which woman is other. Within Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure, subversive voices speak up against the stereotypes within which women are contained and break down "the letter" of patriarchal laws which artificially characterize women as sexless and in need of the protective embrace of husband and home. Given their own voices, with which to express their own feelings and desires, these three heroines speak out against the sexist language, the stereotype of the "pure" woman, and the necessity of marriage; and though they are eventually silenced, their voices have been heard, and the reader must recognize their right to speak and to live independent of the bounds of the patriarchal law.

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