Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-7-2023


This thesis explores the operation of the tragic in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native by taking as a starting point the formalist approach to the genre of tragedy, before extending its definition to encompass the key concept of tragic conflict. This thesis argues that Hardy’s tragic vision takes for object human history, and especially the effects of new, unveiled knowledge on the human psyche, thus locating the root cause of tragedy in these contingencies. This continuum between individual action and the larger historical causes that shape it is expressed via the narrator’s discourse, and the discrepancy between his broader knowledge of his characters’ situations and their blind recourse to a dominant power in charge. Then, using Michel Foucault’s concept of the dispositif, this work analyzes the tragic fates of the novel’s female protagonists. Finally, this thesis explores the progressive potentialities in The Return of the Native with regards to the social structure contemporary to its writing.


Hardy, Tragic, Fate, History, Apparatus, Victorian

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Rajeshwari Vallury

Second Committee Member

Dr. Pamela Cheek

Third Committee Member

Dr. Pim Higginson