Comparative Analysis on "Her Dilemma" and "Return of the Native"

            In Thomas Hardy's poem "Her Dilemma,” it relates to book one of the novel Return of the Native in the concept of marriage and distrust of feelings. In both the poem and the novel, the woman's feelings and emotions cause conflict in her marriage. It is interesting that both these literary works has a marriage transpire with one person doubtful, especially during a time when divorce was unconceivable. The question arises, should a lifetime decision be made solely upon the basis of one's personal desires?.

             In "Her Dilemma” the title gives the reader a clue that a choice must be made between equally undesirable alternatives. Hardy uses iambic pentameter as the rhyme scheme to make the poem flow smoothly. The first stanza uses detail to describe an ancient church where the couple is soon to be married. Once this stanza ends Hardy's attitude changes to one of sorrow. "For he was soon to die, --he softly said, 'Tell me you love me!'-Holding hard her hand.” It is pathetic that this is the last wish of a dying man. Hardy's use of consonance allows the reader to understand the man's feelings. Next stanza the tone changes again, to one of pity for the woman who sells her soul "to be a moment kind.” Regardless of whether the woman decides to marry, the man will die. Eventually, her sympathy for the man overwhelms her conscious and she marries him, leaving herself with a feeling of shame. The author's tone presented throughout the poem is one of sorrow.

             In Return of the Native, the novel involves a marriage between Thomasin and Wildeve, two young adults who leave their village to get married. When both adults come back to the village not wed, anxiety arises from Thomasin, and her aunt, Mrs. Yeobright. "It means what it seems to mean: I am not married. Excuse me-for humiliating you, aunt, by this mishap: I am sorry for it but I cannot help it.” (p. 35) During this time it was humiliating and disgraceful to not only leave a village to get married, but also to come back not married.

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