Darwinian Marriage Experiments Hardy’s the Woodlanders, a Laodicean, and a Pair of Blue Eyes
Harris, Allison Leigh
In this project I survey Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders, A Laodicean, and A Pair of Blue Eyes, exploring how Hardy, as a novelist, grapples with newfound scientific and ecological knowledge that shook humancentric beliefs about the natural world and transformed temporal realities. As a writer of books, Hardy experiments with these questions in his novels, placing the Victorian love-plot at the center of conversations about the (un)importance of humankind and a rapidly changing world. I suggest that Hardy’s recycling of narrative structures, both where he borrows plots or characters from medieval sources and where he repeats scenes across his own novels, is a form of experimentation; Hardy is testing the bounds and limitations of Victorian ways of thought. By exploring differences in representation of similar characters, events, or descriptions across Hardy’s writings and their departures in some cases from source materials, we uncover Victorian anxieties of time, space, and the natural world.