Explain the theme of Thomas Hardy's poem "The Convergence of the Twain."

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most people at the time thought that the sinking of the Titanic was an appalling tragedy involving the senseless loss of innocent life. If Thomas Hardy felt the same way, then there's no sign of it in "The Convergence of the Twain." Instead, he uses the sinking of the Titanic as an opportunity to explore the relationship between man and nature. As in the disaster, so with the poem: man comes off worst.

The Titanic, like all of humankind's technological achievements, was ultimately no match for nature. All too often we fail to respect the natural world, seeing it as an object to be conquered and exploited for our own ends. And what ends are these? Frequently, they are little more than vanity or luxury, the kind that found such opulent expression in the sumptuous accommodation and facilities for the Titanic's wealthy passengers. Yet all that vanity and all that luxury has been sent sinking to the chill, dark depths of the ocean by an iceberg, a mere "shape of ice." We've failed to respect nature, and such tragedies as the sinking of the Titanic are the inevitable consequence of our arrogance and folly.


susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the poem "The Convergence of the Twain," Hardy describes the sinking of the Titanic by first describing the ship at the bottom of the ocean.  Wandering fish peering into the ruins ask:

What does this vaingloriousness  down here?

This question is the key to the theme.  Preceding this question is a description of the ship's opulence--its jewels and mirrors. The ship was the "Pride of Life."T he poem answers the question posed by the fish with a description of the iceberg slowly moving to its meeting with the gleaming Titanic.  This meeting is described as a marriage of sorts, with two opposing forces colliding.  Fate, or "The Immanent Will" created this meeting that shows the fallibility of man. The best that man can devise cannot match the power of nature, but it is man's vanity that makes him think that he is capable of controlling nature, that he is invincible.  This vain struggle of man to compete against nature forms the theme of the poem.


quddoos | Student

It's about the Titanic crashing into the iceberg, which then caused the ship to sink. 

The theme is that all the extravagance of human creation, symbolized by the Titanic, is no match for the divine spirit of nature that decided to overwhelm it.

quddoos | Student

The powerful role of fate is one of the major themes of Thomas Hardy's poem "Convergence of the Twain."  Written originally as a response to the sinking of the Titanic, Hardy's poem suggests that "an Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything" designed the icy fate that awaited the Titanic that cold April morning (VI). The poem portrays the Titanic and the iceberg as kismet lovers awaiting their destiny when they can finally meet and be together.  The extended metaphor throughout the poem uses the idea of fate as the impetus for their meeting. 

"The Convergence of the Twain" argues that the disaster was not caused through the fault of man's hubris or oversight, but that it was fated long ago "In a solitude of the sea/ deep from human vanity" (I).