Tess of the D’Urbervilles : A Book of Symbols. Landscape. “Thus Tess walks on; a figure which is part of the landscape” (220). Blakemore. Hardy’s description?
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Landscape “Thus Tess walks on; a figure which is part of the landscape” (220).
Blakemore • Hardy’s description? • “The village of Marlott lay amid the north-eastern undulations of the beautiful Vale of Blakemore or Blackmore aforesaid—an engirdled and secluded region, for the most part untrodden as yet by tourist and landscape-painter . . . fertile and sheltered . . .” (5).
What is May Day all about? A ritual celebrating the fertility of nature White dresses Flowers May pole or wands Red ribbon (Blakemore, cont.) May Day Dance
Hardy’s description? “A country-house built for enjoyment pure and simple, with not an acre of troublesome land attached to it . . . The house proper stood in full view. It was of recent erection, indeed almost new, and of the same rich red colour . . . Everything looked like money—like the last coin issued from the Mint” (26-27). The Slopes
(The Slopes, cont.) Early or “Forced” Strawberries “He conducted her about the lawns, and flower-beds, . . . And green-houses, where he asked her if she liked strawberries. “Yes,” said Tess. “When they come.” “They are already here.” D’Urberville begn gathering specimens of the fruit for her . . . A specially fine product of the “British Queen” variety he stood up and held it by the stem to her mouth. “No, no!” she said quickly, putting her fingers between his hand and her lips. “I would rather take it in my own hand.” (29)
The Chase • Setting in relation to Alec’s home? • “Far behind the corner of the house . . . Stretched . . . The Chase—a truly venerable tract of forest land; one of the few remaining woodlands in England of undoubted primaeval date, wherein Druidical mistletoe was still found on aged oaks, and where enormous yew-trees, not planted by the hand of man, grew as they had grown when they were pollarded for bows. All this sylvan antiquity however, though visible from The Slopes, was outside the immediate boundaries of the estate” (26). • “. . . Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around” • What might this place symbolize?
“Not quite sure of her direction Tess stood still upon the hemmed expanse of verdant flatness . . . The red and white herd nearest at hand . . . Now trooped towards the steading, their great bags of milk swinging under them as they walked. Tess followed slowly in their rear” (82) Talbothays Dairy in Froome Valley
(Talbothay’s, cont.) Paradise • “Being so often—possibly not always by chance—the first two persons to get up at the dairy-house, they seemed to themselves the first persons up of all the world. . . . The spectral, half-compounded, aqueous light which pervaded the open mead impressed them with a felling of isolation, as if they were Adam and Eve” (102) • “her eyes son lifted, and his plumbed the deepness of the ever-varying pupils, and their radiating fibrils of blue, and black, and grey, and violet, while she regarded him as Eve at her second waking might have regarded Adam” (133).
(Talbothay’s, cont.) Tess’s Mouth • “Her mouth he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth . . . No: they were not perfect. And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the sweetness, because it was that which gave the humanity” (118).
Talbothay’s, cont. Angel and Alec: Literary Foils Differences: Berry picking, carriage manners: courtesy vs. force “Angel” and Devil? Similarities: Both pursue Tess, struggle with faith Both change because of Tess Role Reversal: Alec becomes Protector Angel deserts her
Hardy’s description? “Every leaf of the [turnips] having already been consumed the whole field was in colour a desolate drab; it was a complexion without features, as if a face from chin to brow should be only an expanse of skin. The sky wore, in another colour, the same likeness; a white vacuity of countenance with the lineaments gone. So these two upper and nether visages confronted each other, all day long the white face looking down on the brown face, and the brown face looking up at the white face, without anything standing between them but the two girls crawling over the surface of the former like flies” (223-24). Flintcomb-Ash
(Flintcomb-Ash, cont.) The Machine • “Maltese cross of the reaping-machine” (68), the “Red Tyrant,” blue turnip slicer, thresher, “buzzing red glutton” (262) • 19th century industrialization exploits the countryside and the past just like Alec exploits Tess: “I was you master once . . .” • Machine = “repository of force” • The sun seems to approve: “from the west sky a wrathful shine . . . burst forth” (262). • Machine = Natural force = Alec (“a ticking like the love-making of the grasshopper”-68)
Why this? “Tess, really tired by this time, flung herself upon an oblong slab that lay close at hand, and was sheltered from the wind by a pillar. Owing to the action of the sun during the preceding day, the stone was warm and dry. . . ‘I don’t want to go any further, Angel” (310). “’Did they sacrifice to God here?’ asked she. ‘No,’ said he. ‘Who to?’ ‘I believe to the sun’” (311). Stonehenge
(Stonehenge, cont.) Symbolism of the Sun: Nature’s Plan for Tess The sun: • “lit up their figures” at dance (6) • “absorbed the young stranger’s retreating figure” (10) • makes Prince’s hooves sparkle (23) • is a “godlike creature” gazing down on earth with a “curious . . . personal look” (67) • stretches Tess’s and Angel’s shadows a quarter of a mile (152) • sets “a spot like a paint-mark” on Tess’s skirt during honeymoon (171) • receives sacrifice at Stonehenge (311)
Tess’s Journey of Faith • Early in life, she loses her “Angel” on this “blighted planet.” • Is “tempted” and “falls.”
(Tess’s Journey of Faith, cont.) Tess Challenges Christianity’s Rules • “I don’t believe God said such things.” • Becomes a priestess for her innocent child. • Wonders “why the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike” (99).
(Tess’s Journey of Faith, cont.) • Meets an Angel in the fallen garden—finds a new Eden at Talbothays Dairy and a new religion: LOVE. For a few perfect months, they live “as if they were Adam and Eve” (102). • “There was hardly a touch of earth in her love for Clare” (151). • Tess’s “Angel” falls (as all humans do); Tess’s faith in LOVE is tested. • Again she is tempted--“A jester might say that this is just like paradise. You are Eve, and I am the old other one come to tempt you” (275)--in returning to Alec, she denies her faith in LOVE. • Tess is able to slay the evil force in her life and regains her Eden, but in the process she becomes a sacrificial victim to LOVE.
(Tess’s Journey of Faith, cont.) • Tess believes love is redemptive“Tell me now, Angel; do you think we shall meet again after we are dead? . . . What—not even you and I Angel, who love each other so well?” (311) • Ironically, Angel condemned Tess for her imperfection, but she is the Christ figure of the story, acting out love, forgiveness, and a higher justice. • “She would have laid down her life for ‘ee.” “No man hath greater love than this—than to lay down his life for a friend.” John 15:13
(Tess’s Journey of Faith, cont.) Tess: A Christ Figure?“I am ready.” Two persons were walking rapidly . . . With bowed heads, which . . . The sun’s rays smiled on pitilessly. . . . They moved on hand in hand, and never spoke a word, the dropping of their heads being that of Giotto’s Two Apostles” (313)
Sources for Images • Virtual tour of settings: http://www2.sisu.edu/depts/ english/Tess1.htm • http://justinewaddell.ourfamily.com/gallery.htm • http://www.aande.com/tv/shows/tess/
“A large shadow of her shape rose upon the wall and ceiling. She bent forward, at which each diamond on her neck gave a sinister wink like a toad’s” (177).
“I have done it—I don’t know how” • “I will not desert you; I will protect you by every means in my power, dearest love, whatever you may have done or not have done!” (304)
“Ah, happy house—good-bye!” • “Why should we put an end to all that’s sweet and lovely! . . . All is trouble outside there: inside here content” (308).