Every critic knows how Hardy's novels could have been better written. Hardy is not always to be trusted as his own explicator and sometimes the disingenuousness is deliberate. Hardy seems to have been genuinely incapable of anticipating the effect of his work on readers less 'advanced' than himself, but even he must have known and intended that his subtitle would have the impact of a grenade lobbed into a smug Victorian garden party. A woman, not a social class, has been violated and destroyed. Everyone knows what Hardy means even when this contradicts what he actually says. Hardy and Orwell seem almost 'continental' in the seriousness with which they react to the death of God and its momentous consequences – it signals a break with their own native tradition. Hardy means liberation from life into extinction, a sentiment closer to Schopenhauer than to Christianity.