Writer Thomas Hardy fits neatly into the general scheme of the literature of the second half of the nineteenth century, for he was about midway between writers Matthew Arnold and Walt Whitman. He believed in the efficacy of the knowledge given to one by an understanding of science; but he felt that new points of view should be impregnated with the ancient lore of the past. He believed that old wine should be kept in new bottles. He refused to follow the writers who called themselves realists into the morass of words that they accumulated in their attempts to portray life and character as they thought they were. Likewise, he refused to give himself to pure impressionism. He endeavored to preserve a balance between objective reality and his interpretation of it. He was in the old sense of the word a literary artist.
Hardy, of course, read the events of human life in the light of his conception of the Immanent Will. He believed that the skein of circumstance, woven blindly and flung forth indifferently, caught up in its web all human beings from the emperor in his palace to the unconscious lout lying drunk in the ditch. But Hardy was not satisfied to hold this view conjecturally. He scanned the pages of philosophy, of science, and of history to be certain that he read life aright. From them he evolved a view of life which has been called scientific determinism. It seemed to him that men moved as automata, each within his own sphere. Unseen forces played upon them; unseen powers directed them.