Chapter

Parental Secrets in Thomas Hardy's <i>The Mayor of Casterbridge</i>

Rachel Bowlby

in A Child of One's Own

Published in print June 2013 | ISBN: 9780199607945
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191760518 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199607945.003.0013
Parental Secrets in Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge

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Alluding to famous lines from the poet Thomas Gray—‘Where ignorance is bliss | ’Tis folly to be wise’—a character in Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge decides not to tell her daughter ‘the true story of her life’. What that true story is, is itself a question in the novel, which is partly about the power of parental secrets, perceived as such, to generate their own effects from the very fact of there being something that is not disclosed. The chapter also considers another Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, which involves a well-meaning and deliberate erasure of a parental truth. These examples lead to a discussion of the changing landscape of family secrets in contemporary society—when topics such as donor conception have taken the place of earlier subjects of secrecy such as illegitimacy and adoption.

Keywords: parental secrets; illegitimacy; untold stories; Hardy; the mayor of casterbridge; Hardy; far from the madding crowd; donor conception

Chapter.  6112 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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