Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Thomas Hardy wrote during a time of great social, moral, and technological change. Often his novels reflect these changes, and the people struggling to cope with them. This master thesis looks at three of Hardy’s novels including The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Ubervilles, and Jude the Obscure, and evaluates the struggle the characters make to adapt socially and morally.

The Mayor of Casterbridge shows how machines altered the way agriculture was done and a man’s struggle to manage a successful farm without the proper knowledge of the new technology. While he fails, a younger man much more knowledgeable in business and machinery becomes successful. In Tess of the d’Ubervilles the characters are presented with the challenge to evolve away from a traditional religious morality, and into a more intuitive and natural one. Unable to evolve, the story ends in tragedy. Jude the Obscure shows the struggle with Christianity and naturalism, as well as the change of roles women held in society. In this story, the characters try to cope with the Christian sanctity in marriage, and their own wills to marry for love.


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