Short Stories of Thomas Hardy

Hardly Joyous: Servitude in Hardy and Joyce

Both James Joyce's Eveline and Thomas Hardy's The Son's Veto express the negative effects that service has upon an individual's life. While Joyce uses an intimate obligation, a promise to a dying mother, Hardy's story addresses a wider cultural restriction that is created by social class systems. This paper will explore the disdain felt by both authors towards the obligation of an individual to serve others.

Both stories contain a crippling of sorts. The Son's Veto centers on a woman, Sophy, who, while dutifully serving the vicar, Mr. Twycott, injures her ankle and has her mobility restricted for life. "Since she was forbidden to walk and bustle about, and indeed, could not do so, it became her duty to leave" (616) Her injury is not discussed with compassion at first. It is her duty to leave. Hardy's language depicts service to the house before consideration of such social compassion as asking for a form of worker's compensation. The novel's connection between service and its negative effects foreshadows the later crippling of her ability to marry out of joy due to her son's wishes.

Even in her first marriage, Sophy is unable to express free will due to her servile position....

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