By C. H. Salter
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Extra info for Good Little Thomas Hardy
From the Wessex equivalent of despair at unrequited love of Thomasin. One has only to think of Smike to realise that Christian Cantle, with "a great quantity of wrist and ankle beyond his clothes" and Creedle with his "cast-off soldier's jacket ... top-boots .. picked up by chance, ... pocket-knife ... given him by a .. sailor" are not social criticism. Creedle's clothes are part of the appearance-reality theme in The Woodlanders: they tell us something about their previous wearers which can be recovered through "a military memoir .
Jude, Elizabeth-Jane, and to some extent Stephen Smith, are, as 44 Good Little Thomas Hardy Hardy felt he was, self-educated. It makes a difference whether we are dealing with a woman's or a man's education. " 'If they only knew what an unfinished girl I am - that I can't talk Italian, or use globes, or show any of the accomplishments they learn at boarding schools ... Better ... '" Elizabeth-Jane is not the poorer for being without those boarding-school accomplishments, which Grace has acquired before her story begins and which she learns not to value: " 'I wish I worked in the woods like Marty ....
We would not expect George Eliot, from our knowledge of her views on society, to approve of experiments like New Lanark, but when she puts a proposal for a similar experiment in the mouth of Dorothea we feel the possibility as part of the social picture as The Social Critic 51 well as knowing that it is not the right way out for Dorothea. 36 Hardy is not George Eliot. His rick burns in order that Oak may minimise the damage: nothing is said about how the ftre started. His horse-stealer is hanged, not in order that the law may be changed, but in order that his ghost may appear to his trampwoman on the day she bears his of course stillborn child.