Thomas Hardy Questions and Answers

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Who are the two speakers conducting a dialogue in “Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?”  

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A dead woman and her dog are in dialogue in this poem. The dead woman senses that someone is digging on her grave. She assumes it is because she is being remembered. At first, she jumps to the conclusion that the digger is her lover, planting rue. The other speaker, her dog, says no, her lover got married yesterday to another woman.

The dead woman then thinks of her closest relatives, but learns that they see no point in planting flowers on her grave, as that can't bring her back. Getting more desperate, the woman at leasts hopes it is her enemy, prodding around. However, she learns that once she was dead, her enemy gave up hating her as pointless. Her enemy no longer thinks about her.

When the dead woman gives up and asks who it is digging, the dog says it is himself. She immediately thinks her dog is being faithful to her, but he informs he that he had forgotten about her and is merely burying a bone.

The poem is a comment on how quickly the dead are forgotten. It is nature's—and as humans and dogs are natural beings, their way too—to move on past the dead. This way of perceiving the world is called naturalism; it a way of thinking that sees nature as indifferent to human fate.

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tresvivace eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The two speakers in Thomas Hardy's "Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?" are a woman who has died and the dog who is digging in the spot where she is buried.  The woman asks repeatedly who is digging at her grave and, one by one, goes through the list of the different people who might be missing her (and thus attending her grave).  She asks, for example, if her loved one is present, then if her dearest kin is planting flowers, and finally she asks if her enemy is digging at her grave.  Each time the answer is no. 

When the dog finally admits to digging on the grave, the woman concludes that, even though humans have abandoned her, the dog is loyal and loving.  But then even the dog admits that he was only digging in this spot in search of bones.  The irony is that even the dog has turned away from death to the concerns of the living.  This bleak poem is reflective of Victorian naturalism. 

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