The Workbox by Thomas Hardy
I have to admit that when I first read this poem I did not understand that there were hints and clue suggesting possible hidden truths. When first reading the poem, I thought that it was coincidental. Reading this poem for a second time and researching it has shown that there are some suspicions. "The Workbox" by Thomas Hardy is about a man who may have known more than his wife thought he knew.
I feel that the husband knew something about his wife's past. In stanza's one and two, the husband gives his wife a gift. At first she was happy to receive the gift that her husband made for her. In stanza's three, four, and five she finds out that the gift was made out of wood from the coffin of a man named John Wayward. When she learned of this information, her initial reaction towards the gift changed. Why is that? Her husband wondered the same thing. The wife became pale and turned her face aside. What part of the husband's information made her react this way? This reaction is what initiates suspicion. It causes the reader to ask a number of questions.
One question that comes to mind is why did she react the way she did? Is she concerned with the fact that the gift was made of materials from the man who lies within the coffin? In the eighth stanza, the husband asks his wife about the change in her reaction. Was it because she found out that the material of the workbox came from a grave? In the ninth stanza, the wife responds by saying "of that sort never have effect on my imaginings." She is saying that the fact that the workbox was made from the coffin's wood had no affect on her. This lets me know that the material in which the workbox was made did not cause her second reaction by her own recognition
The reaction had to be caused by the husband mentioning the name John Wayward. Why would the mentioning of this man's name cause her to react the way she did? More than likely, she knew this man. Her reaction suggests that she did not just know of John Wayward, but that maybe the two of them had some sort of relationship. She knew more about the man than she is telling. However, she said that she did not know him at all. To prove her allegation, she said that although he is from her home town, she could not have known him because first of all, he was older than she was. Secondly, he left her home town when she was a child; she was not a grown woman yet when he left. For a person who claims to not know the man, she sure did know more that someone who would not know him. How does she know when he left town? This allegation does not seem to be true based on her reaction.
Why is John Wayward, and how does the husband know of him? Why did the husband feel that it was important not only to tell the wife that he made the gift out of the material from a coffin, but also of whose coffin it was made? It is almost as if the husband is hitting at some hidden truth. He knows something pertaining to his wife and John...