Hardy’s six major novels differ from the minor fiction principally in the increased creative energy and tension he brings to them. The plots are similarly complex but do not dominate the work to the enervation of character; the characters are enmeshed in situations compounded out their own weaknesses and the fell clutch of circumstance but retain their individuality and force; setting takes its proper place as symbolic and metaphoric of the lives of the characters; myth and symbol are integral to the total construction of the novel rather than being merely interesting for their own...
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