The woman pays: death and the ambivalence of providence in Hardy's novels

Nicholson, S.L. (2002) The woman pays: death and the ambivalence of providence in Hardy's novels. Literature and Theology, 16(1), pp. 27-39. (doi: 10.1093/litthe/16.1.27)

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Traditional readings of Hardy which focus on romantic or idyllic themes may be aligned with traditional theologies which take no account of material realities for women. Alternative literary readings can challenge the foundations of such theologies. Using Judith Butler's work, this article argues that Hardy performs feminine genders through appropriating the subjectivity of his female characters. Their undeserved suffering and deaths are punishments for sexual misdemeanours, meted out by an ambivalent deity in the shape of Hardy's First Cause, or Providence. Fictional representations are politically and theologically situated, and feminists may wish to concur that any deity active in the material world may be similarly ambivalent.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Nicholson, Dr Sarah
Authors: Nicholson, S.L.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Literature and Theology

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