Neutral Tones Thomas Hardy Thesis

The theme of love’s disappointments is one he explores frequently.When we consider the poem’s title, it perhaps gives us some reason for this ‘neutral’ form.I’d go as far as to say it’s very typical of Hardy in general – he’s certainly a man who doesn’t shy away from the miserable and depressing.

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Both the tone and diction throughout the poem is consistently depressing.

The theme of “Neutral Tones” is that love is not always what one would expect it to be.

"Since then, keen lessons that love deceives," (13).

This line is a reflective line from the poet on his feelings of her deceit toward him.

Using “winter” as the season sets the depressing tone for love to die similarly to how the leaves mentioned in the poem are also dying (3).

The third line, “a few leaves lay on the starving sod,” showcases the death of the leaves which otherwise would be an ordinary event if it did not enhance the mood.The theme is expressed as the speaker reflects upon a past relationship that did not end smoothly.The gloomy mood of the poem is immediately set in the first stanza."Like an ominous bird a-wing..."(12) foretells her leaving him.He is seeing in her forced grin an omen of bad luck.Her smile appears deader to him than the fallen leaves do."Alive enough to have strength to die; /And a grin of bitterness swept thereby " (10-11)."Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree, / And a pond edged with grayish leaves"(15-16).He will never get out of his mind that moment in time.These lines show that the poet realizes some life in her smile, but not what he wants to see.There is a difference between a genuinely happy smile and a forced grin, and the latter is what he sees on her face.


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