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Moral Luck in Thomas Hardy's Fiction

From: Philosophy and Literature
Volume 34, Number 1, April 2010
pp. 82-94 | 10.1353/phl.0.0071



Thomas Hardy is notorious for driving his characters into the grave with untimely chance and luck. This essay interprets his idiosyncrasy as an exploration of the problem of "moral luck" to confront the reader with fundamental ethical questions. My examination of four cases of moral luck in Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd and The Return of the Native shows that they produce different effects in the two novels and invite different ethical response due to genre differences; and embracing both versions of ethical experience will help the reader understand the nature of moral luck and moral judgment.

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