Under the Greenwood Tree

by Thomas Hardy

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Describe briefly the characteristics of forest life mentioned in Under the Greenwood Tree.

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Under the Greenwood Tree, by Thomas Hardy, is a full-length novel that shares its title with a poem by Shakespeare, which can be found in his play As You Like It. For more detailed information on either the novel or the poem, I've linked to those summaries below.

Thomas Hardy wrote beautiful descriptions of scenery. Here is a quote from the beginning of the book that offers a picture of the natural environment:

To dwellers in a wood almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature. At the passing of the breeze the fir-trees sob and moan no less distinctly than they rock; the holly whistles as it battles with itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its flat boughs rise and fall. And winter, which modifies the note of such trees as shed their leaves, does not destroy its individuality.

Here, we see that the forest is rich with trees of many kinds. They bend and rock in the wind, making their own kind of music. Hardy mentions several tree species and their unique role in creating the beauty of this wood. It is diverse, vibrant, and alive, in winter as well as summertime.

In Shakespeare's poem, a little bird is mentioned. We can easily imagine this carefree songbird living in Hardy's forest, singing merrily in the treetops. Perhaps that is why the author chose the title for his novel and continued exploring the theme of nature and the charm of living in harmony with the woods. The book is considered to be an example of a pastoral idyll, which appealed to readers at the time it was published. It celebrates the simple life and rural joys of living close to nature.

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