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For the Victorian Age, Thomas Hardy was a liberal thinker because he points out the hypocrisy of religious, social, and legal orders of life during that time. First, novels were considered trash compared to poetry because they discussed issues that were taboo to discuss in public. Add to that the fact that Hardy truly brought out the depth and breadth of the prejudices inflicted upon women during his time and the sum is Victorian criticism and rejection. Since Hardy so aptly discusses the causes and effects of a poor woman's life during his lifetime, it is clear that he had greater understanding and compassion for the double-faced society in which he lived. For example, Hardy discussed the natural inclination of both men and women to be tempted sexually before marriage. Through Tess's story, he brought to light the fact that such behavior was going on more than people were openly admitting or accepting at the time. Reviewers and readers might not have been ready for Hardy's direct approach at the time, but he clearly captured a long-lasting and universal human truth whether people of his time liked it or not.
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