His regionalism is strictly connected to the limited area in which he repeatedly set his works and which he called Wessex. What H. did was, therefore, simply to exhume the old name of his country and make it the imaginary setting of most of his works. Wessex became both a unifying element and a link between past and present, proving the ideal setting of his novels the main themes of which are consequences of the changes and transformations of Wessex agricultural society under the impact of modern industrial life.
Wessex also provided him those rural landscape and natural environment that, like Wordsworth, he had learnt to love when he was child. The presence of nature is an essential element in his works, since it not only acts as a background and a setting, but becomes an essential part of the story.
This total immersion in nature, and his belief that only in rustic life can men express their passions to the full, make H., in some respects, a romantic. But, while for the Romantics Nature usually meant joy and consolation, for H, over the years, it came to mean something else. What at first had been seen as a mother and a friend, finally turned into a hostile power, indifferent to man's destiny. Love, too, which is the basis of all his novels, and which is another romantic content in itself, quite often ends in disillusion and failure, destroyed by institutions like marriage or by society or even more often by Fate.
He was influenced by Darwin's theories and he was also deeply struck by the new geological discoveries which, against all traditional beliefs, proved that the world had existed longer than man. This led him to refuse Christian doctrine and to work out a pessimistic theory of his own, according to which man is an insignificant insect in a universe quite indifferent to him. He was only a puppet in the hands of an inscrutable malicious force which blindly rules universe and human destiny and which, like the Gods of Aeschylus, delights in tormenting and killing. Man is therefore the powerless victim of an obscure fate, which shows its working in a series of accidents and coincidences.
This sense of fatalistic determinism is also due to the scientific studies of the time on the hereditary factor in human beings, which seemed to deprive man of all responsibility for his actions. This led H to work out the idea of a kind of predestination, quite often a predestination to failure, according to which all men fulfil their destiny without finding any help either in society, which oppresses and destroys them, or in love, which often leads to unhappiness.