Types of landscape descriptions in the novels by Thomas Hardy

Аliona Halytska

Kamianets-Podilsky Ivan Ohienko National University

Scientific Supervisor: PhD, associate professor O.V. Halaibida




The article deals with the research of different types of landscape descriptions in the novels of the well-known English writer of prose Thomas Hardy.The terrestrial and celestial landscapes are distinguished. Their stylistic role is considered in opening of artistic intention of author.

Key words: landscape, fiction, terrestrial and celestial landscape, repetition, metaphor, simile.

 Landscape is one of the components of the fiction composition. By its content it describes nature of any non-closed space of the outside world.  Any description (portrait, landscape, interior, and description of some things) is “imaginary concrete and the picture image of the people, objects, events, location”[1, p.65].

Hardy has not unsympathetically imposed Nature’s realities on man; rather, they show how man has freely chosen to interpret his own existence in terms of what he believes he sees in Nature. Nature, therefore, is more than just a background. By placing the stress upon the activity and not upon the hardship suffered, a writer indicates that man’s relationship with Nature is necessarily a continuous process. Man’s chief responsibility, therefore, is to act in accordance with what he sympathetically discovers in Nature in order to create meaning and some happiness for himself.

Formation of the artistic method of Hardy is connected with his philosophical thinking and outlook. Outlook of Hardy first of all is extraordinary vision of nature. Anyone who examines creativity by Thomas Hardy emphasizes importance of nature in his novels. Almost all agree in thinking that he wanted to convey his vision of nature. Baker[2], for example, notes that Thomas Hardy’s nature is not just the landscape scenery or background, it is an integral part of the drama, “so”, he says, “move from description to narrative is not seen”.

  When describing the image of the nature Thomas Hardy wanted to go deep into the patterns of life. On this subject he wrote in his diary that in his art he is not interested in painting as such, that it is literal reflection of reality, its optical effect, and deep genuine essence of which lies in expressing imagination.

In terms of linguistics landscape is defined by use of figurative means: lexical (similes, metaphors, epithets, parallelism), grammatical (grammatical synonymy, uniformity, separating the definitions) [1, p.63-65].

The image system of Thomas Hardy differs in realistic specificity combined with a deep philosophical meaning. Thomas Hardy holds back the thoughts that in order to describe nature one has only to glance at its core.

Thomas Hardy often describes nature as a brutal force that is indifferent to the fate of man. In the novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” he writes: ”The night came in and took its place there unconcerned and indifferent, the night ,which had already swallowed up his happiness and was not digesting it listlessly, was ready to swallow up the happiness of a thousand other people with little disturbance or change of mien” [5, p.95]. Metaphorical images and personifications show special perception of the world. Night is represented as a great monster.The usage of verbs that describe digesting process which creates the image of the night that devours everything.

Hardy describes the landscape through the prism of the heroine’s feelings. The feature that distinguishes Hardy’s style from the style of other British novelists, his predecessors, is infrequent use of similes:“The soundlessness impressed her as a positive entity rather than as the mere negation of sound. It was broken by the strumming of strings. Tess was conscious of neither time nor space, their harmonies passed like breezes through her bringing tears into her eyes. The floating pollen seemed to be his notes made visible, and the dampness of the garden, the weeping of the garden’s sensibility. Though near night-fall, the rank-smelling weed flowers glowed as if they would not close for intentness, and the waves of colour mixed with the waves of sound” [3, p.98]. Another characteristic feature of Hardy’s style is synesthetic images of sound and colour.

As a result of our research we distinguished two types of the landscapes that prevail in Thomas Hardy’s novels: terrestrial and celestial.

Terrestrial landscape is a type of landscape that has relation to the earth or its inhabitants. Terrestrial landscapes in Thomas Hardy’s novels are very long and detailed. They are characterized by compound sentences with the repetition of conjunctionand. They are mostly static in their nature, there are no verbs of movement, the prevailing verbs are verbs of being and supposition.

“Up the sides of this depression grew sheaves of the common rush, and here and there a peculiar species of flag, the blades of which glistened in the emerging sun like scythes. But the general aspect of the swamp was malignant. From its moist and poisonous coat seemed to be exhaled the essences of evil things in the earth and in the waters under the earth. The fungi grew in all manner of positions from rotting leaves and tree stumps, some exhibiting to her listless gaze their clammy tops, others their oozing gills. Some were marked with great splotches, red as arterial blood —others were saffron yellow, and others tall and attenuated with stems like macaroni. Some leathery and of richest browns. The hollow seemed a nursery of pestilences small and great, in the immediate neighborhood of comfort and health, and Bathsheba arose with a tremor at the thought of having passed the night on the brink of so dismal a place” [4,p.276].

Celestial landscape is the landscape that relates to the sky or the heavens. Thomas Hardy’s novels are rich in metaphoric descriptions of skies, sun, moon, stars. They are dynamic, characterized by verbs of movement (to spring, to dance, to leap, to stride, to race, to come, to appear, to run etc.).

“Heaven opened then indeed. The flash… sprang from east, west, north, south, and was a perfect dance of death. The forms of skeletons appeared in the air, shaped with blue fire for bones — dancing, leaping, striding, racing around, and mingling altogether in unparalleled confusion. With these were intertwined undulating snakes of green, and behind these was a broad mass of lesser light. Simultaneously came from every part of the tumbling sky what may be called a shout, since, though no shout ever came near it, it was more of the nature of a shout than anything else earthly. In the meantime one of the grisly forms had alighted on the point of Gabriel’s rod, to run invisibly down it, down the chain, and into the earth”[4,p.260-261].

Landscapes in the novels by Thomas Hardy are able to express and cause delight, joy, sadness, peace, etc. The nature of the most is alive, full of sound and movement, color and light. From linguistic point of view it is supported by usage of epithets and metaphors. All this reinforces the aesthetic landscape orientation:

“Long thatched sheds stretched round the enclosure, their slopes encrusted with vivid green moss, and their eaves supported by wooden posts rubbed to a glossy smoothness by the flanks of infinite cows and calves of bygone years, now passed to an oblivion almost inconceivable in its profundity. Between the posts were ranged the mulches, each exhibiting herself at the present moment to a whimsical eye in the rear as a circle on two stalks, down the centre of which a switch moved pendulum-wise; while the sun, lowering itself behind this patient row, threw their shadows accurately inwards upon the wall. Thus it threw shadows of these obscure and homely figures every evening with as much care over each contour as if it had been the profile of a court beauty on a palace wall; copied them as diligently as it had copied Olympian shapes on marble facades long ago, or the outline of Alexander, Caesar, and the Pharaohs”[5, p.197].

So, it can be seen that the landscapes in the novels by Thomas Hardy play an important compositional role. They make small descriptive blotches in the imagination of the reader; generate multilateral retrospective of paintings of wildlife.Syntax of landscape painting as a subject of our observation determines the dynamic or static description.



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