The Workbox by Thomas Hardy

The Workbox by Thomas Hardy
I have to admit that when I first read this poem I did not understand that there were hints and clue suggesting possible hidden truths. When first reading the poem, I thought that it was coincidental. Reading this poem for a second time and researching it has shown that there are some suspicions. ?The Workbox? by Thomas Hardy is about a man who may have known more than his wife thought he knew.
I feel that the husband knew something about his wife?s past. In stanza?s one and two, the husband gives his wife a gift. At first she was happy to receive the gift that her husband made for her. In stanza?s three, four, and five she finds out that the gift was made out of wood from the coffin of a man named John Wayward. When she learned of this information, her initial reaction towards the gift changed. Why is that? Her husband wondered the same thing. The wife became pale and turned her face aside. What part of the husband?s information made her react this way? This reaction is what initiates suspicion. It causes the reader to ask a number of questions.
One question that comes to mind is why did she react the way she did? Is she concerned with the fact that the gift was made of materials from the man who lies within the coffin? In the eighth stanza, the husband asks his wife about the change in her reaction. Was it because she found out that the material of the workbox came from a grave? In the ninth stanza, the wife responds by saying ?of that sort never have effect on my imaginings.? She is saying that the fact that the workbox was made from the coffin?s wood had no affect on her. This lets me know that the material in which the workbox was made did not cause her second reaction by her own recognition
The reaction had to be caused by the husband mentioning the name John Wayward. Why would the mentioning of this man?s name cause her to react the way she did? More than likely, she knew this man. Her reaction suggests that she did not just know of John Wayward, but that maybe the two of them had some sort of relationship. She knew more about the man than she is telling. However, she said that she did not know him at all. To prove her allegation, she said that although he is from her home town, she could not have known him because first of all, he was older than she was. Secondly, he left her home town when she was a child; she was not a grown woman yet when he left. For a person who claims to not know the man, she sure did know more that someone who would not know him. How does she know when he left town? This allegation does not seem to be true based on her reaction.
Why is John Wayward, and how does the husband know of him? Why did the husband feel that it was important not only to tell the wife that he made the gift out of the material from a coffin, but also of whose coffin it was made? It is almost as if the husband is hitting at some hidden truth. He knows something pertaining to his wife and John Wayward. Otherwise, why did the husband choose that specific coffin? The reaction by the wife tells me that she knew that her husband did something to her lover because someone turning pale suggests that they are frightened.
My theory is the wife had an imitate relationship with this John Wayward character. The wife thought she had done her dirty dead and her husband had not found out about it. The husband did find out about it. He may have had the man killed. Then to give a hint to this wife that he knew about her and John Wayward, and was there something she wanted to tell him, he makes this workbox out of Wayward?s coffin. Why was the information that he provided to his wife about the workbox relevant? Why did she need to know whose coffin he got the wood from except for the purpose of him trying to hint that he knew something? Also, how did he know where this man?s coffin was located? This is why I think he had Wayward Killed, unless it was common knowledge of where Wayward was buried.
Why is it suggested that the wife had an affair? She just seemed guilty because of her reaction. When the husband mentioned Wayward?s name, the name of a man she claimed she did not know, she became pale and because she could not keep a straight face, turned her head as well so that her husband could not see the guilty look on her face. Her reactions were contradictory of her claims. She clearly lied about knowing him. What else could she be lying about? Why lie at all about knowing him unless there is a story that she does not want to share with her husband behind her knowing John Wayward. This is why I think her and Wayward was intimate at some point in time. Saying she did not know Wayward prevented her husband from asking any other questions about Wayward. For example, if she had said she knew John Wayward, then the husband may have asked how so. She would have had to create one lie after another with each question her husband may have asked.
Did you know that John Wayward?s last name had meaning? The word wayward means given to or marked by willful, often perverse deviation from what is desired, expected, or required in order to gratify one?s own impulses or inclinations or unruly (ask.com). Why did the author choose to give John the last name of Wayward? I do not think that this was a coincidence. The author has been giving his readers unsaid messages throughout the poem, so why not put one in the man?s last name? Considering the fact that I believe the man?s name is not a coincidence provided in the poem, the author is obliviously trying to tell us something about this John Wayward character. He is namely trying to tell us that the man had a relationship with the wife. John?s last name indicates that he could be the type of person who would not care if a woman was married or not, long as he could gratify his own desires.
With that being said, Hardy is pointing out that we should read between the lines. Everything within this poem is an unsaid message. For example, the wife?s reaction, the knowledge of John Wayward, the coffin, even Wayward?s name is an unsaid message. Those messages clearly point out that the wife cheated on the husband. They also point out the husband knew of the adulterous relationship between his wife and John Wayward and may have had something to do with Wayward?s death.

The Workbox by Thomas Hardy 8.9 of 10 on the basis of 1560 Review.