Alumni

Resetting the clock Darwin's narrative and "The Return of the Native"

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Description: In this project I examine the way Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native (1878), interacts with Darwinism and nineteenth-century scientific epistemology, particularly in its conceptualization of movement through time. Building upon recent studies of the cultural impact of Darwin's theories on nineteenth-century writers, my reading examines how the novel incorporates, expands, and contradicts central Darwinian concepts. My primary focus is on the ways in which evolutionary theory affects the novel's sense of time. I argue that the novel accommodates a variety of time-senses, juxtaposing the past, present and future, the human and geological, the linear and cyclical. These time-senses collide and coexist in the novel's polychronistic layering. Furthermore, I claim that the multiple time-senses experienced by the novel's characters parallel its formal narrative structures as it sets the progressive movement through time of realism against the timeless qualities of myth. Using theories of the relationship of time and narrative, I explore the novel's use of the various narrative strategies of realism and myth to reflect the experience of time. The novel's collision of time-senses emphasizes humankind's struggle to understand and control its own movement through time.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work