neutral tones


Context in neutral tones

Hardy's first wife, Emma Gifford, was a cheerful playful character who, while being the complete opposite to hardy, got married to him in 1874. 

They were two completley diffrent people, and both of them commented on this in there journals. They often had very bad fallings out, and eventually, Emma made Thomas build an attic so she could live up there, just so she didn't have to talk to him. 

There are some theories that if she came down and they had an argument, Either Emma would lock herself in her room, or Hardy would force her up there.

Eventually she got fed up and moved permenantley in to the attic, but after a few days in the attic she fell ill, 5 minutes after hardy was called up to see her, she died on the stairs to the attic after trying to be carried down to get help.

Hardy went through a terrible time, with hardly any family left, he tried to hide how much he missed her by writing poems and novels.

2 years after her death Hardy married Florence Emily Dugdale, but still never fully got over the death of his first wife Emma. 

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Techniques in neutral tones

Hardy uses ceasuras (commas or big pauses in the poem) which creates a sense of tension as he is describing this winters day. 

Also his similie describing her "grin of bitterness" as an "omnious bird a-wing" shows us this smile is tiny, she can hardly look at him. 

His use of an oxymoron to describe her "smile" as the "deadest thing alive" shows us what he really thought of his wife and what she thought of her. It also seems to take the enjoyment out of the things around, making her smile feel like it is killing everything.

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Use of color in neutral tones

Neutral tones (like it says in the title) is based around very dull, boring colors, which are supposed to symbolise what he thought of his relationship with his first wife Emma. 

Only using the colors: White and grey. 

shows us how much he was bored with her, but also showing his melancholy tone because of her death, and how sad he is. 

Hardy wanted the colors in the poem to resemble the scene around him, a winters day: probably late evening, the sun has almost set, lots of snow, the pond seems very dull, and the air is foggy and grey. All the trees are dead, and the leaves are frozen and dying.

Finally, he uses white to tell us that god has cursed the sun. Saying that it was "chidden by god." 

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Language in neutral tones

Using older, less common words like "chidden" shows us that Hardye is trying to show-off and say that he is "the bigger person". His first wife Emma would often have very big fallings out with Hardy, but she had a very exaggerated personality, and was probably very childish, so using these old big words makes haryde seem like he is winning.

Also, by saying the "sod" was "starving", he is implying, that like his relationship, he is dry, and he has run out of his much needed nutrients to help him keep going. This proably reflected how they got on once Emma had decided to move upstairs into the attic, and live there almost full time.

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Other useful facts regarding Neutral tones

  • Hardy was not a very religous man, but he talks about religion a bit in neutral tones showing he did believe in god enough to use it in his poems.
  • Hardys book 'Jude the Obscure' reflects Hardye's relationship with his wife Emma, and she criticised him because of this, saying people would connect judes relationships, with her own and Hardyes. 
  • Hardye was famed for writing pieces which flowed perfectley, and were very easy to turn into music. However, this poem does not flow like other poems he wrote, and this is why this collection of his poems has never been set to music.
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