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A Laodicean Case

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Hardy has always had a temporal fascination which takes on a definitive personality in his works . Watches and clocks in particular appear time and again in Hardy's novels. One of the most recognisable examples in A Laodicean is that of the clock in the de Stancy castle. We are told that the original ancient clock has been replaced in favour of a more accurate modern one. Along with the surface symbols of modernity and the ancient, the shift of importance from qualitative to quantitative could be related to the changes caused by the industrious modern . On August 2nd 1880 legislation was passed to make Greenwich Mean Time the legal time. One purpose of this move from regional to standardised time was for railway times .

The railroads in particular create "A clash between ancient and modern" (p. 26) in A Laodicean. There are many examples of past and present being in conflict in the novel, a few being paintings and photographs, Captain de Stancy and Somerset. The railroad however is not presented as one of these clashes. The railroad is directed around the castle, signifying respect for the ancient whilst embracing the modern, and the description of the tunnel by Somerset also creates an image of the modern and ancient having a harmonious coexistence (p. 71). The amalgamation of past and present in the railroad scene is also prevalent in the character of Paula. Given the profession of her late father and the symbolism in her surname, one could presume that Paula epitomises the modern. However Paula's character vacillates between representations of modernity and the ancient both in her choice of architectural features and her men. Paula's last utterance (p. 364) summarises the "clash between ancient and modern" eloquently. Despite decidedly choosing the modern -Somerset- she never abandons her love for the romanticised past.



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