Hardy's works take place in Wessex (named after the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which existed in the area). One of his distinctive achievements is to have captured the cultural atmosphere of rural Wessex in the golden epoch that existed just before the coming of the railways and the agricultural and industrial revolutions that were to change the English countryside for ever.
His works are often deeply pessimistic and full of bitter irony, in sharp contrast to the prevalent Victorian optimism.
The Whitewashed Wall (II)
Well, once when her son cast his shadow there, A friend took a pencil and drew him Upon that flame-lit wall. And the lines Had a lifelike semblance to him. And there long stayed his familiar look; But one day, ere she knew, The whitener came to cleanse the nook, And covered the face from view.