This novel is often thought of as Thomas Hardy's best work, not only for the elaborate structure of the plot, where small and subtle details lead to the character's ruin, but in the themes that range from how human loneliness and sensuality can stop a person from trying to fulfill his dreams; to how, when free from the trap of marriage, one's dreams will not be fulfilled if one is of a lower status; how the educated classes are often more like sophists than intellectuals; how living a libertine life full of integrity and passion will be condemned as scandalous in conservative society; and how religion is nothing but a mistaken sense that the tragedies that wear down an individual are the result of having sinned against a higher being.
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