” (Lines 21-22). By turning her head the wife demonstrates a desire to avoid the issue, of perhaps an inference from Hardy she views the topic obliquely at best. Although the wife attempts to deny her discomfort with the issue through rationalizations and defensive posturing, the husband nonetheless, continues to press the topic. When the husband asks his wife if the origin of the box “shocked” (Line 31) her, the wife replies “Don’t, dear, despise my intellect, mere accidental things of that sort have no effect on my imaginings. ” (Line 32-36).
The language used by Hardy is strong, the wife doesn’t say “underestimate” or “disrespect” in regards to her intelligence, she uses despise. In Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary “despise” is defined as “to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful. ” This word seems immensely strong for the conversation taking place, the forcefulness of the word reflects on her desire to dodge the issue. Hardy draws his message to a close in the final stanza ” Yet still her lips were limp and wan, her face still held aside, as if she had not only known John, but known of what he had died.
” (Lines 37-40) Primarily, Hardy has shown that the wife’s “imaginings” have indeed been affected, as she now seems to have some knowledge of the deceased along with an insight as to what he had died, each which could only be supplied through her imagination. The wife’s face continues to be held askance, but her visage has been affected; her lips now limp, and “wan” i. e. ; pale, deathly. In describing a woman that has pressed hard to avoid the issue of death as death-like, Hardy is telling the reader that despite any wishes to avoid death, death touches us all regardless. The connection between life and death cannot be denied, nor avoided.
They are intrinsically involved, leaving one sole option; which is the acceptance of our inexorable fate. Hence the focal point of Hardy’s “The Workbox” is indeed the connection between life and death. The author shows the elusive nature of the confines of our lives, as well as the abruptness in which these boundaries intertwine. The author shows the irony, and inevitable disposition of life and death. Showing this connectivity through the symbolism of the timber, the workbox that was established as representing life, and coffin clearly representing death, Hardy has drawn a succinct commentary of the human condition, in all of its complexity.