The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid ニオケル カタリ ノ ギコウ ニツイテ
On the Narrative Technique of ‘The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid’
‘The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid’ by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is a highly elaborated short story in terms of romantic ideology. It is abundant in what is called romantic imagery implicated by the wording of the title itself. The title suggests that this story evolves around the complicated ‘adventures’ that a milkmaid, Margery Tucker, experiences with the mysterious dark gentleman of ‘romance.’ Margery, ‘Nature’s own image’ in the eyes of the Baron, gives him a refreshing impression and relieving effect at the critical moment of his trying to commit suicide.
The Baron takes Margery to a ball held at a certain manor house during the night, which is her only hope as a reward of saving his life. This experience affects Margery as it opens her mind to the upper class. This story is somehow overlapped by that famous fairytale, Cinderella. Though Margery enjoys the dreamlike ball with the Baron for the whole night long, she is brought back again to her position as a milkmaid. Her mind goes through a little change by this experience; once she saw and experienced the world of the upper class, she cannot be satisfied with her betrothed, James Hayward, a village youth.
Hardy adopts a traditional story-telling technique in writing this story, as is often the case with him. The assumed omniscient narrator asserts that his story is based upon the ‘the testimony’ of his ‘authority for the particulars of this story.’ The narrator furthermore introduces in the narrative the testimonies by Margery and James as they are supposed to confirm the seeming truth. This technique juxtaposes in a sense the past and the present in the narrative, which may be anticipating some aspect of the modern novel in the 20th century.
In this paper romantic imagery and some aspects of modernity in ‘The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid’ are discussed in relation with the narrative technique.
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