Summary and Analysis of At An Inn by Thomas Hardy

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INTRODUCTION TO THOMAS HARDY-

Thomas Hardy was born in the year 1840, in Dorset. Being a follower of Charles Dcikens, Hardy was a critic of the Victorian society. Hardy is considered among the famous English writers, and most of his works revolve around the tragidies caused by the social circumstances.

INTRODUCTION TO AT AN INN-

At an Inn by Thomas Hardy is a composition of 5 stanzas built by a total of 40 lines. The poem is a critic of the victorian era, the supposedly traditional social circumstances and a society filled with prejudice and opposed to passion.   

SETTING OF AT AN INN –

The poem is set in the form of a dialog. No specific physical location can be observed.

POETIC DEVICES IN AT AN INN –

ALLITERATION-

“WHEN we as strangers sought”

“Their catering care”

“Veiled smiles bespoke their thought”

STYLE OF AT AN INN-

“WHEN we as strangers sought  (A)

Their catering care,  (B)

Veiled smiles bespoke their thought  (A)

Of what we were.  (C)

They warmed as they opined  (D)

Us more than friends  (E)

That we had all resigned  (D)

For love’s dear ends.”  (E)


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SUMMARY OF AT AN INN –

The speaker says that when he and his friend, presumably a girl, show affection and care towards one another, they are frowned upon by the society. “Veiled smiles” received by them seem to suggest the prejudice lying underneath, the assumption that the speaker and the lady are engaged in sexual acts which should be reserved only for marriage. The speaker says that the people surrounding them thought they knew about his and his friend’s relationship. The speaker and his friend were themselves not aware of the vibes they were emitting. The speaker then says that this loving sympathy, the veiled smiles from others, makes it seem as if the God himself has made the people Ministers and thus, these people are rejoicing in the speaker’s presumed blissful situation. In the next stanza, the reality of their relationship is revealed. The speaker than says that when he and his lady were left alone, there was no love between them. He then contemplates that maybe he should have tried harder to save his relationship, to see what others saw in their love. The speaker here feels guilty for not trying hard enough to understand his love and now his lady has died, he is regretting the lost chance. The speaker then tells that their love was not from mutual understanding, rather it was forced by the traditional norms. In the Victorian era, arranged marriages were supported by the society, a rich groom and a physically attractive woman were the only conditions for marriages. Thus, eventually, the speaker and his lady fall out of love that was forced upon them. The speaker bitterly asks the God for why he their love was conditioned as a sport for entertainment rather than an emotion. The speaker then expresses his great regret at betraying his wife by not loving her enough, he emphasises on the distance that the ever flowing time creates between two people, his guilt over the lost time and chance and no way left to rekindle the love since his wife is dead now.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF AT AN INN –

This amazing composition by Thomas Hardy is a sharp critic of the traditional victorian values which destroyed lives of many young men and women. It is also a self reflection filled with emotions ranging from love and bitterness to defeat and life long regret.

TONE OF AT AN INN –

The tone of the poem is cynical and bitter for the most part since the poem is a critic of the traditional victorian values and society and also expresses poet’s emotions of guilt and regret.

CONCLUSION-

This brilliant composition by Thomas Hardy makes the readers realise the reality of the society that is filled with prejudice and sawayed easily by facade, it also teaches the readers the importance of respecting time and acting on the opportunity whenever it appears.

Contributor: Radhika Goel

 

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