S-Space College of Education (사범대학) Center for Educational Research (교육종합연구원) 교육연구와 실천 Journal of the College of Education (師大論叢) vol.40/41 (1990)
토마스 하디시의 반어에 관한 연구
A Study on the Irony in the Poetry of Thomas Hardy
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 사범대학
- 사대논총, Vol.41, pp. 67-90
- A survey of the works by Thomas Hardy readily reveals the fact that irony is one of the most prominent features of his poetic imagination. A collection of his short stories bears the famed title, "Life's Little Ironies." At least two of his eight books of poetry are given titles that inform the author's ironic cast of mind unguardedly: Time's Laughingstocks and Satires of Circumstance. One of the many spirits that populate his voluminous epic poem, The Dynasts, is named the Spirit Ironic. Hardy was an ironist by nature and choice. Deriving from Greek eironeia and Latin ironia meaning 'dissembling,' irony is a broad term referring to the -recognition of a reality different from the masking appearance. So in irony there are two distinct dimensions of reference involved: ironic' vision and ironic expression. Hardy's ironic vision is certainly encouraged by the mood of uncertainty that ruled the transitional period in which he lived. His poetry reflects the age's conflict between the old and new cultures, and his timeless Wessex was actually what Raymond Williams called "the border country." Hence the poet's persistent sense of nostalgia for the irredeemable past, which is the single comprehensive motif behind his various lyrical poems about nature, man, and love. The conflict between theology and science was another characteristic sign of his age, and here, Hardy's burning sense of incongruity, as is amply reflected in his "philosophical" poems, becomes quintessentially ironical. The situation of man's fate is incongruous in the total scheme of the universe where the indifferent Will presides replacing the Christian god. This is the cosmic or general irony for Hardy. An irony arises from a sense of incongruity-disparity between reality and appearance, but its quality is determined by the degree of detachment on the part of the ironist, The more the poet's personal voice is subdued or detached, whether out of moral conviction or sheer unconcern, the nearer the poem moves in the direction of the satirical or the humorous. This accounts for the mildly satirical or humorous note in Hardy's philosophical poems. His so-called pessimism is, therefore, less gloomy than it imports to be. It is not so much Hardy's theory of meliorism as his ironical imagination that saves the poet's . philosophy of gloom. In fact, the reader experiences greater gloom or pain or whatever in his pure lyrics where the poet's authentic voice is more centrally present and where the sense of irony is more subtle and complicated. Finally, Hardy's predilection for the dramatic, as manifested by monologs, dialogs, and narrative elements in his poetry, should be read as both the support and result of his ironical vision and imagination. The poet's incomparable compassion embraces divers elements in nature and even human mind as individual members in the family of the universe. Their living voices jar with each other constantly and sadly but within the common bounds of the greater family. This warmth in the cold universe, enacted by way of personification, might be the final irony of Hardy's ironical vision.