The tone of “The Workbox” by Thomas Hardy is despondent and fatalistic. In his poem, which is written as a conversation between a husband and wife, he describes life as he understands it. To Hardy, life is difficult; one lives, one dies. In Victorian times, there was a general belief in an all loving God, but Hardy believed that for some life is difficult and all the prayers will not change that.
Hardy describes the wife as being from the country while the man is more refined. The man in the poem gives his wife a box made of coffin wood. She says that the gift will last the rest of her life and he responds that it will last her life, and beyond which shows his view of life and death. The use of coffin wood to make the gift is symbolic of Hardy’s view that life will go on long after the couple has died, and adds to the tone in the poem. Death is inevitable, and part of life.