Human Morality and the Laws of Nature by Ian Mackean
by Ian Mackean
In his novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) deals with issues of morality in two fundamental ways; one is the relativity of moral values – their variation according to time and place – the other is the opposition between man-made laws and Nature. These issues are explored through the experiences of Tess Durbyfield as she encounters the problems of life, and exemplify Hardy’s idea of the ‘two forces’:
So the two forces were at work here as everywhere, the inherent will to enjoy, and the circumstantial will against enjoyment. (p.332)
The ‘circumstantial will against enjoyment’ is often a matter of morality or convention, but equally often it is a matter of chance, or fate.
The first example of the relativity of moral values is seen in the clash of attitudes between Tess and her mother…
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