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Thomas Hardy - Background and The Going

            In 1870 Thomas Hardy travelled to Cornwall, where he met and fell in love with Emma Gilford, his first wife. Emma's death, on the November 27th 1912, inspired some of Hardy's most raw and best work. "The Going" by Thomas Hardy is one of many poems written by Hardy after his wife's death. Between 1912-13 Hardy wrote many poems addressing the loss of his wife with whom he seemingly had a tough and strained marriage.
             There were a number of conflicts in Emma's marriage to Hardy. Firstly, while Emma was of a reasonably respectable social standing, Hardy was distinctly working class. Emma it would appear firmly believed that she was superior to her husband in every way, particularly due to her birth. In addition to this, there was a religious divide between them. Emma was always a devout Protestant; yet Hardy increasingly lost his religion as he grew older. Their marriage was a very unhappy one, partly due to their lack of children. She also did not approve of some of his novels, in particular Jude the Obscure. Emma Hardy especially disliked the anti-religious views expressed in Jude the Obscure. Emma saw Hardy's work as irreligious and overly pessimistic. Soon after her death Hardy found two manuscripts entitled 'The Pleasures of Heaven and the Pains of Hell,' and 'What I think of my Husband.' Upon reading these, Hardy destroyed them. These writings, along with Emma's death inspired Hardy to create some of his most poignant poetry.
             "The Going" is composed of six seven-line stanzas. In the first stanza Hardy is questioning the sudden death of his wife Emma. "Why did you give no hint that night", immediately Hardy questions his wife in an interrogatory manner. This could show his desperation to speak to his wife as he fails to start with a common introduction. Hardy also makes the subject of the stanza his wife. Writing "you" could show Hardy felt his wife was somewhat responsible for her own demise.

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