Aspects of Narrative within Thomas Hardy poems - CHARACTER

If you study English Literature at AS level with AQA, then these revision cards will help most with Section B of the paper, where it will ask you to write about three texts in terms of a selected aspect of narrative. These revision cards show key points about each aspect of narrative from the Hardy poems: The Voice, Under the Waterfall, Convergence of the Twain, Neutral Tones and The Haunter.

This set focuses on Character.


Character - The Voice

Character - Emma Gifford

"call to me, call to me" - repetition shows Hardy's desperation for Emma

"air-blue gown" depicts the image of beauty, yet the colour symbolism of blue indicates sadness and depression

"you being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness":
- 2nd person pronouns makes it direct to Emma, because she's the only one he wants.
- "wan" means pale, which links to the ghost/haunting theme
- "wistlessness" means: the emptiness of a soul, which shows how hollow he feels now because he has lost his soulmate

"the woman calling" seems less direct with the definite article 'the' which could hint at acceptance, or some form of moving forward. 

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Character - Under the Waterfall

Character - Lover

"Whenever I plunge" - first person pronouns show the poem coming from one person's point of view/memory. This launches into a flashback, showing how domestic situations can trigger memories

"Well," - personal, informal expression shows that this is a more transcendent Hardy poem

"We" - inclusive pronouns symbolise the relationship

"No lip has touched it since his and mine":
- "lip" although meaning to sip from the glass, it hints at the motion of kissing, which makes the flashback even more romantic.
- "touched it" could imply that no other relationship has ever come close to the one being described 'under the waterfall'
- "his and mine" - by combining the domestic situation of washing up, and the patriarchal society at the time, we assume that the character is most likely to be a woman.

Character - Inquisitive person

"Why?" - the questions show that she is telling a story, yet we don't know who to. It could be children, which would mean the lovers have moved on, reinforcing the theme of old, unique love.

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Character - Convergence of the Twain

Character - Titanic

"Pride of Life that planned her" - Pride of Life could refer to one of the seven deadly sins 'pride', or the case of hamartia (pride before a fall) which foreshadows the end of the poem. "Her" refers to the boat, which is linked to nautical theme

"sea-worms...grotesque, slimed indifferent" - depicts the boat as ugly and unusual to what should be in the sea, which hints that the narrator is biased

"bleared, black and blind"  - alliteration which refers to the wealth of the passengers, and overall audacity of humans to interfere with the sea (nature)

"smart ship" and "stature, grace and hue" mocks the ship, showing nature's 'attitude'

Character - Nature

"sinister mate" - nature has the power to be harmful

"shadowy silent distance" - sibilance to sound like water, shows that nature is subtle and intelligent

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Character - The Haunter

Character - Emma Gifford

"I" - first person pronouns - her point of view although it's written by Hardy

"my faithful phantom" - guilt trip because Hardy wasn't faithful, showing Hardy is paranoid and perhaps remorseful

"What a good haunter I am!" - sadistic and twisted attitude

"My loss" - Hardy isn't the only character who has lost his lover

"All that love can do" - she still loves him, despite his behaviour and "His path may be worth pursuing" - he is worth being haunted because she wants to know he's safe and to "bring peace" to him, which is her purpose.

Character - Hardy

"he", "him" - 3rd person pronouns make the poem about him

"Seldom he wished to go" - he is guilty of not spending time with Emma.

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Character - Neutral Tones

Character - Hardy

"We" - inclusive pronouns show the relationship

"Words played between us to and fro" could be an innuendo, showing that the relationship was based on sex, hence it doesn't work romantically and seriously.

" our love" - the relationship has broken down"

"wrings with wrongs have shaped to me" - shows that Hardy has realised it is the wrong type of love for him.

Character - Woman/Lover

"Your eyes... eyes that rove" - she was flirtatious, which annoyed Hardy, although he wasn't always faithful too.

"The smile on your mouth... deadest thing" - at first with 'smile' the reader is set up for a compliment, yet the oxymoron of "deadest" shows the resent he feels towards her.

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