Thomas Hardy and His Religious Beliefs
Thomas Hardy was born into a very active Christian family. He was the son of Orthodox Christians who made sure that he regularly attended services. Many of Hardy's relatives were involved in the church. Some were members of the clergy and some were musicians at the local church. Hardy, a member of the Stinsford parish, taught a Sunday school class when he was a young man. He even had aspirations of becoming a member of the clergy himself. He became very familiar with the teachings of the Bible and even memorized the psalms. Because Hardy was exposed to such devout faith in his youth, he acquired this faith as well.
From the period of 1840 to 1860, the "Oxford Movement", a spiritual movement involving extremely devout thinking and actions, began to spread to Dorset. The supporters of this movement believed in a God who is near to man and transcends the natural order of things. This movement helped to reinforce Hardy s faith.
In the 1860's On the Origin of Species and Essays and Reviews became widely circulated. These works led to a questioning of traditional religious ideas. Hardy partook in this questioning. When exposed to the new ideas, he became very doubtful. In 1862, he came to London and became even more exposed to the contemporary view of the day. His best friend , Harvey Moule, also served a role in the deterioration of Hardy's faith. A man of Cambridge, Moule served as an educator for Hardy. Previously, Hardy had only been surrounded by the rural ideas of Dorset.
Thomas Hardy thus abandoned his devout faith in God and began his search to find meaning in life without an acknowledgment of his previous Christian beliefs. once said, "I have been looking for God for 50 years, and I think that if he had existed I should have discovered him. As an external personality - of course- the only true meaning of the word" (Dave, 5). In the later years of his life, Hardy felt that his faith in Christianity had been badly shaken by what he experienced and learned from the new scientific advancements in his century. He became an...