Background to the Son’s Veto
Thomas Hardy was born in rural England. He had a modest social background. His family did not have much money. He never went to the upper class schools or the then revered universities like Oxford or Cambridge. He became an architectural draughtsman and worked as such for a living before he became a successful writer. He moved to work in London but returned to rural Dorset when he became a full-time writer. Perhaps because he never truly managed to fit in that society.
Hardy seems to have been acutely aware of the social inequalities of Victorian times, maybe because he was from an inferior class. He also had his own views of the Christian idea of God and was critical of the role of the Church.
Majority of his works talk about the social inequalities of those times – the class divide, the lower status of woman and hypocrisies in marriage and relationships. Hardy’s works also show how he laments the decline of rural Britain and criticizes the power of the Church.
To appreciate Thomas Hardy’s work, it is necessary to understand the circumstances of the society of his times.
• The church played a major role in the lives of the upper and middle class. Victorian England was extremely religious. The clergy received professional training. Families during this time period were usually large, hard-working, respectable, and were taught religion at home. They were frequent church-goers. Church attendance during this era contributed to a family’s social standing. However, the lower middle class and working class were alienated from the church. This is perhaps because they were not socially accepted at churches with the upper class citizens who formed the Anglican Church or Church of England or maybe because the working class never held any responsible position. The clergy were almost upper middle class. Also maybe because the need to wear one’s best clothes to the church and appear ‘respectable’ was deterrent to the poor.