The Decline of the Goddess: Nature, Culture, and Women in Thomas Hardy's Fiction

Synopsis

This timely book treats Hardy's recurring use of one of the major informing myths of Western culture--that of a collision between a solar god and an earth goddess. Stave uses a chronological examination of Hardy's Wessex novels to highlight the author's evolving consciousness of the connections among patriarchy, Christianity, sexism, and classism. From the gentle affirmation of Far From the Madding Crowd to the grim Jude the Obscure, Stave paints a world in which the goddess figures die out, displaced by messianic gods, and a Pagan worldview gives way to a world devoid of spiritual meaning.