Women and sexuality in Hardy
The work is a study of Thomas Hardy's novels and women. The focus centres upon five major Wessex novels and Hardy's treatment of female sexuality . An examination of early difficulties of style and characterisation is followed by textual analysis of the more complex structures and discourses developed by Hardy as, with increasing confidence and enhanced reputation the poetic voice successfully accommodates itself to a prose medium. Contemporary sexual ideologies - those to which Hardy was daily exposed through the vociferous medium of periodicals and journals - are drawn into the study. It is argued that Hardy was engaged with contemporary social issues, that the historical process enters into his fiction to shape both characterisation and event, and that contemporary dialogues upon the 'Woman Question' inform his characterisations. The argument is that Hardy was not a feminist as nineteenth century liberal feminism is understood. It is maintained that he developed a broader vision, which, augmented by both the eclecticism of his readings and his own keen perceptions, ranged beyond nineteenth century liberal feminist ideologies.