Hardy - Neutral Tones analysis

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Neutral Tones
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Hardy is reflecting on his relationship with Emma - he is lacking in any emotion (apathy)
The speaker addresses an estranged lover and reminisces about a moment in the past
which anticipated the demise of their relationship
The first three stanzas describe the incident, the fourth reflects on this incident and the
nature of love
It is a sad and pessimistic poem that portrays love as painful and doomed
Key themes:
Bitterness towards love and failed relationship
Pathetic Fallacy - environment mirrors state of relationship
Pond is significant because conveys lack of movement from beginning to end, and that
life is a cycle which cannot be stopped
Neutral tones - some irony since poem actually carries strong negative emotional appeal
Emphasises how Hardy came to feel about Emma - no emotion, lacking in passion
No colour = feeling between them is neutral, suggests colourless mood
Soothing but depressing language highlights sadness and emotions in narrator
Melancholic tone because narrator is reflecting
Colourless tone emphasises narrator's feeling of detachment despite being in first
person
Paradox (a bit of irony as well I guess)- Hardy's use of paradox in stanza three reflects
the pain of his emotions, conflicting ideas = love is fated to fail
Leaves strong impression on reader, enhances emotional turmoil
Cynical about love, bitter poem
Language analysis
We stood by a pond that winter day Pond - water is still/ stagnant, like relationship. It
And the sun was white, as though chidden of also has a reflection, mirroring his reflection on the
God,
past.
`Chidden of God' Sun is pale as though it has
been told off by god and the colour has drained
from its face

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Winter day - lifeless season, rhymes with gray to
emphasise bleakness
White - cold, monochromatic, connotations of
sterile environment, drained of all vitality. Pathetic
fallacy, the sun matches the mood of the narrator.
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod; Few leaves lay - reminder of the end of a natural
They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.…read more

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Alive enough... - it's alive enough to make it
painful ­ `die' suggests it was love fated to fail.
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby Ominous bird a-wing - sign of bad luck to come,
Like an ominous bird a-wing.... associated with fortune telling
Ominous - hints that lover is evil
Ellipses leaves us in suspense.…read more

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Enclosed rhyme scheme ( a b b a): repetitive, predictable like relationship. Middle lines are
'trapped' in the middle echoing how narrator felt in relationship?
Cyclic: Words 'gray' 'pond' + 'God' repeated at the end giving poem cyclic quality - reflects the
continuous 'flow'/ fluidity of life
(so much bitterness.. HARDY IS BITTER AND WRITES STUPID BITTER POEMS THAT
DEPRESS EVERYONE.…read more

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