Comparing Hap by Thomas Hardy and The Second Coming by Yeats

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Comparing Hap by Thomas Hardy and The Second Coming by Yeats

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was one of the great writers of the Late Victorian era. One of his great works out of the many that he produced was his poem Hap, which he wrote in 1866, but did not publish until 1898 in his collection of poems called Wessex Poems. This poem seems to typify the sense of alienation that he and other writers were experiencing at the time, as they "saw their times as marked by accelerating social and technological change and by the burden of a worldwide empire" (Longman p. 2165). The poem also reveals Hardy's own "abiding sense of a universe ruled by a blind or hostile fate, a world whose landscapes are etched with traces of the fleeting stories of their inhabitants" (Longman p. 2254).

The poem's major theme seems to be this sense of the world being ruled by a hostile and blind fate, not by a benevolent God pushing all of the buttons. This is clearly stated within the poem itself as Hardy writes "If but some vengeful god would call to me / From up the sky, and laugh: 'Thou suffering thing, / Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy, / That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!' / Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die, / Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited; / Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I / Had willed and meted me the tears I shed. / But not so." (Hardy, Longman p. 2255: ll. 1-9). As you can see, this poem shows that Hardy has indeed lost all faith in a benevolent God that deals out suffering and joy to his creations as he willfully deems they deserve and need. Instead of this idea of a benevolent God up above pulling all of the strings of the world and dealing out everyone's personal fate, Hardy believes fate is...

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...and present as a sign that the 'Beast' is about to be born and rule the next 2000 years just like Jesus was born and resurrected to rule the last 2000 years, while Hardy just relates the evils and pain that is inflicted on man as a sign that there is no benevolent God, but not that there is an evil God staking his claim to our lives now enstead. He leaves our fate up to mere chance and the passage of time, while Yeats leaves our fate up to the beast (also known as Satan).

Works Cited

Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism. New Jersey. Prentice Hall, 1999.

Damrosch, David, et al., ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Vol. B. Compact ed. New York: Longman - Addison Wesley Longman, 2000.

Yeats, William, Butler. "The Second Coming." The Longman Anthology British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch. Longman. New York. 2000. 2329.
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