Regarding teaching Thomas Hardy's short story "Alicia's Diary," what is one characteristic that identifies a passage as written by Hardy?  Has anyone taught Thomas Hardy's short story "Alicia's...

Regarding teaching Thomas Hardy's short story "Alicia's Diary," what is one characteristic that identifies a passage as written by Hardy?


Has anyone taught Thomas Hardy's short story "Alicia's Diary"?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are going teach this short stoy as being representative of Thomas Hardy's themes or style, one thing that comes to mind is the concept of fate that appears as a significant part of his characters' lives. As with his novels, this short story has several possible outcomes (as Alicia discusses in her diary), but the characters themselves seem not to be in control of the outcome that, in the end, fate seems to have determined (Caroline's mother dies, the wedding must be indefinitely postponed, and in the meantime, Alica and Charles fall in love, which would not have happened if the mother had not died and the wedding could  have taken place on time.) Often that outcome is unjust, as in this story. Caroline seems to be an unsuspecting victim of her sister's jealousy and treachery and Alicia escapes any consequence for her betrayal.

The wedding is indefinitely postponed. Caroline is like a girl awakening in the middle of a somnambulistic experience, and does not realize where she is, or how she stands. She walks about silently, and I cannot tell her thoughts, as I used to do. It was her own doing to write to M. de la Feste and tell him that the wedding could not possibly take place this autumn as originally planned. There is something depressing in this long postponement if she is to marry him at all; and yet I do not see how it could be avoided.

Also, you could focus on characters. Alicia, like many of Hardy's women characters, is very self-centered and this self-centeredness renders her incapable of considering the effects that her actions, words, attitudes have on others:

To think that Caroline, two years my junior, and so childlike as to be five years my junior in nature, should be engaged to be married before me. But that is what happens in families more often than we are apt to remember.

In spite of her protests that she has always been careful to make sure Caroline is included in her conversations with Charles, Alica is undermining her sister by constantly proving that she knows more about art than Caroline, etc., so that Charles eventually becomes enamored with Alicia, in spite of being engaged to Caroline:

Yet all to no purpose. Some fatality has seemed to rule, ever since he came to the house, that this disastrous inversion of things should arise. If I had only foreseen the possibility of it before he arrived, how gladly would I have departed on some visit or other to the meanest friend to hinder such an apparent treachery. But I blindly welcomed him — indeed, made myself particularly agreeable to him for her sake.

The passage above is also a good example of the idea of "fate."

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