The Workbox by Thomas Hardy

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The Workbox by Thomas Hardy

I have to admit that when I first read this poem I did not understand that there were hints and clue suggesting possible hidden truths. When first reading the poem, I thought that it was coincidental. Reading this poem for a second time and researching it has shown that there are some suspicions. "The Workbox" by Thomas Hardy is about a man who may have known more than his wife thought he knew.

I feel that the husband knew something about his wife's past. In stanza's one and two, the husband gives his wife a gift. At first she was happy to receive the gift that her husband made for her. In stanza's three, four, and five she finds out that the gift was made out of wood from the coffin of a man named John Wayward. When she learned of this information, her initial reaction towards the gift changed. Why is that? Her husband wondered the same thing. The wife became pale and turned her face aside. What part of the husband's information made her react this way? This reaction is what initiates suspicion. It causes the reader to ask a number of questions.

One question that comes to mind is why did she react the way she did? Is she concerned with the fact that the gift was made of materials from the man who lies within the coffin? In the eighth stanza, the husband asks his wife about the change in her reaction. Was it because she found out that the material of the workbox came from a grave? In the ninth stanza, the wife responds by saying "of that sort never have effect on my imaginings." She is saying that the fact that the workbox was made from the coffin's wood had no affect on her. This lets me know that the material in which the workbox was made did not cause her second reaction by her own recognit...

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...t that I believe the man's name is not a coincidence provided in the poem, the author is obliviously trying to tell us something about this John Wayward character. He is namely trying to tell us that the man had a relationship with the wife. John's last name indicates that he could be the type of person who would not care if a woman was married or not, long as he could gratify his own desires.

With that being said, Hardy is pointing out that we should read between the lines. Everything within this poem is an unsaid message. For example, the wife's reaction, the knowledge of John Wayward, the coffin, even Wayward's name is an unsaid message. Those messages clearly point out that the wife cheated on the husband. They also point out the husband knew of the adulterous relationship between his wife and John Wayward and may have had something to do with Wayward's death.
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