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Unlike most depictions in Victorian literature, Hardy portrays the women in his novels as flesh and blood. He broadens their horizons by allowing them to work outside the home, travel without chaperon, and initiate relationships with the opposite sex. This was something new, and the public responded both negatively and positively to his suggestive works.
Hardy believed in marriage, but he also believed in divorce when necessary. Susan is sold by her husband, but she returns to him even after her daughter dies in bondage. Her secret will only be revealed after her death and upon her second daughter's wedding day.
He also portrays independence and foolhardiness through the character of Lucetta. She pursues what she wants, but she also backs away when she see the unattainable. She is real, and we can almost see her fear that the love letters she wrote during her youth might come back to ruin her future.
the mayor of casterbridge by thomas hardy