Sig. Of Setting In Three Thomas Hardy Poems,

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Setting – a combination of landscape, atmosphere, imagery and social context – is used by Hardy in the poems The Darkling Thrush, Neutral Tones and At An Inn to convey key themes, ideas and messages to the reader. Hardy uses various significances – ideas of importance and relevance to the poem’s meaning – in conjunction with setting in order to portray meaning. In the three poems, different significances are used to get across different messages and highlight the importance of the poem’s setting to its meaning. The relationship between man and woman is a key significance in At An Inn and Neutral Tones. In At An Inn, social context is integrated with the physical setting, emphasizing Hardy’s frustrations at the stagnancy of the relationship between him and his female accomplice. The most important device used as part of the poem’s setting are the innkeepers. In the poem, the innkeepers assume the relationship between Hardy and his female accomplice to be more than it was, with Hardy writing that the innkeepers considered them ‘Love’s own pair’ and telling of how ‘they warmed as they opined us more than friends’. The attitude of the innkeepers creates an air of expectancy that was dwelling within Hardy himself. However, the innkeeper’s attitude juxtaposes the attitude of the rest of society – it was society’s attitude towards love and marriage (in the era this poem was written divorce was difficult even for men, and was frowned upon by society) that meant their infatuation remained stagnant, and ‘love lingered numb’. There are also other interpretations of how social context affects the relationship between man and woman in At An Inn – for example, the feminist movement at the time was often making women more defiant in terms of objectification. It could be argued that Hardy considering love a ‘sport’ was a factor in the infatuation turning stale. In Neutral Tones
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