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Lecture 7 Tess of the D’Urbervilles . A novel is an impression, not an argument. Essay writing assignment 2 . To what extent is Tess differentiated from stereotypes of the feminine ?. More on Hardy’s background. Hardy is a penetrating thinker; a philosopher A sociologist;

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Lecture 7 Tess of the D’Urbervilles


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    1. Lecture 7 Tess of the D’Urbervilles A novel is an impression, not an argument.

    2. Essay writing assignment 2 • To what extent is Tess differentiated from stereotypes of the feminine?

    3. More on Hardy’s background • Hardy is a penetrating thinker; a philosopher • A sociologist; • a theorist of love relationships • And nature poet • Hardy continued to educate himself through his own study—all of his life; • Started reading Shakespeare at 13 years old; • Hardy had no university degree.

    4. Keep in mind • Writing convention of the Victorian novel • virtuous characters (such as Tess) • who are intended to engage the reader’s sympathy • Should be represented as • ‘speaking’ in standard English.

    5. In dealing with Tess, given her peasant background, we get this explanation: • ‘Mrs. Durbeyfield habitually spoke the dialect; her daughter, who had passed the Sixth Standard in the national school under a London-trained mistress, spoke two languages; the dialect at home, more or less; ordinary English abroad and to persons of quality.’

    6. Focus of Lecture 7 • Note some important clarifications • Structure and critical significance of length of Phase the Third, The Rally • Characteristic Concerns and Issues • Representation of Tess as a Woman • Nodal Incidents (Seeing Connections) • Refer to last week’s GP Lecture on Gender

    7. The Narrative Trajectory • The central drive of its plot; of its narrative framework; of its narrative pattern? • Its narrative system or method? • Hardy’s large use of the accidental and the coincidental drive the plot forward • The narrative system of the novel is the system of its narrated episodes involving • A series of accidents and coincidents

    8. Free enough but not totally free • Hardy recognizes a very strong element of determinism in human existence • His characters are not fully free • But — they are free enough — • Free enough to recognize and make real, significant choices (though not totally free) • Free enough to make mistakes, or to struggle to make their lives whole and unified

    9. Next: Structure and Length of Phase 3 • The portion of the novel set in Talbothays is noticeably quite long • We recall this is the part of the novel that details the happiest time of Tess’s life • Designed this way for what intended effect? • So that the later very unpleasant ‘Phases’ have a much higher shock and tragic impact • When contrasted with Phase the Third

    10. Characteristic central concerns • An attack on Victorian Christian moralism in relation to sexuality The Victorian cult of chastity; • Hardy stresses repeatedly that Tess’s behaviour was in consort with Nature • It is Victorian society that is out of sync with the world • The dominant class; and class conflict issues • The struggle for existence directed by an indifferent nature; and human suffering and mortality • Heredity and Ancestral Destiny • The passing away of a way of life: from ‘field’ to ‘ville’

    11. Characteristic Concerns • Religious belief and religious hypocrisy • Economic materialism; and economic repression • Economics of sexual relationships between classes • Pleasures of Country solitude; and outdoor life in Nature vs. modern town life • Tradition (rural values) vs Technological Progress (Farm hands vs Farm machines) • Value of Intellectual Liberty (as symbolized in Angel)

    12. Throughout the novel Hardy suggests that Tess is a part of Nature • And though society may judge her to have “fallen” • Nature cannot. • She has been condemned • “under an arbitrary law of society which had no foundation in Nature.”

    13. Degeneration in Family Descent • Tess’s weakness, her dreaminess • Depicted in the journey to the market (Ch 4) • Also at Talbothays dairy when she she tells Dairy-man Crick how “our souls can be made to go outside our bodies when we are alive” (Chapter 18) • This dreamy unreality in Tess is not a mere odd aspect of her character • It results from her heredity; it is even reflected in both her parents

    14. Ancestral Destiny (link to determinism) • Hardy appears to be at pains to emphasize that among country folk • Degeneration of an old stock is common • And in Tess’s family line, (genealogical tree) • The stock is in decline • From the once “powerful”, “ancient and knightly family of D’Urbervilles” • To the “heavily handicapped” Durbeyfields

    15. Angel theorizes about ancestral destiny • Angel tells Tess of the legend that some D’Urberville of 16th / 17th century committed a dreadful crime • Tess later learns that it concerned “a murder, committed by one of the family, centuries ago” • On their wedding night, Angel takes Tess to one of her family’s dilapidated mansions

    16. There she sees a portrait gallery of her ancestors with treacherous narrow eyes and large teeth • Angel, after learning of her rape, charges • “decrepit families imply decrepit wills” • And accuses Tess of being • “the belated seedling of an effete aristocracy” • After learning that she killed Alec, Angel wonders • “what obscure strain in the < D’Urberville blood > led to this aberration”

    17. Representation of Tess as Woman • Tess is a woman whose life is centered around men • Hardy has been convicted of chauvinist manipulation • And omission of Tess’s < inner thoughts > • This is not < a feminist way > for a woman to be • It is argued, that Tess’s independence of mind on matters of religion and sin occurs when she is not engaged in a relationship with any man. What do you think? • That once involved, her critical thought declines, • And she puts all her thought into the relationship.

    18. Tess’s wasting of her • Loyalty to men also happens because of • The repressivegender ideal of her culture; (Patriarchal Culture) • This disables Tess enough • to make her almost completely dependent on these men for any sense of self. • She suffers from this dependency.

    19. A primal value: ‘Stand by your Man’;a woman’s loyalty to her man • Tess as a woman is endowed with great capacities for not only centering her life on men • But in the case of Angel, of devoting her self to a man like Angel • It is possible to affirm that in women-men relations, a woman’s loyalty to her man • Is one of life’s greatest (natural) gifts

    20. It may then be argued • That Tess as a novel, (‘Tess’) • Is powerfully suggesting that such a capacity does exist • And even that it is a primal value in womanhood; in Nature • This no doubt offends contemporary Sexual / Feminist perspectives and politics

    21. Textual evidence In the novel • Tess’s loyalty to Angel, including intellectual loyalty, loyalty even to his ‘infidel’ beliefs • Is carried to such an extent that it becomes • Suffocating? Self-destructive? • Pathological? • Sickening? • Soul-destroying?

    22. Moving on: More about Phase the Third • Tess had never in her recent life been so happy as she was now, possibly never would be so happy again. She was, for one thing, physically and mentally suited among these new surroundings. [Chapter 20] • The landscape is one of fertility, of surplus, of promises of animal and human contentment.

    23. Tess’s growth: Both intellectual and emotional • ‘Almost at a leap Tess thus changed from simple girl to complex woman. Symbols of reflectiveness passed into her face, and a note of tragedy at times into her voice. Her eyes grew larger and more eloquent. She became what would have been called a fine creature; her aspect was fair and arresting; her soul that of a woman whom the turbulent experiences of the last year or two had quite failed to demoralize.’

    24. The “germination” of a new springtime • “was almost audible in the buds; it moved her as it moved the wild animals, and made her passionate to go.” • Notice how Tess’s recovery is placed in the context of animal life • Within the world of Nature

    25. Tess and Angel • One may argue the love that develops between Tess and Angel is sexual • The “Nature” in which it occurs is the combined action of landscape, agriculture, inclusive of farm animals, and weather • All these are symbolically suggestive of this… • ‘What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature…’ • The overwhelming impetus of the Talbothays Dairy section is towards the positive expression of sexual desire as the natural and essential way of being human.

    26. This is not to deny their courtship is infused and undermined by customs of sexual regulation and control • But that they still had feelings that break free from such constrictions and constructions • This experience creates a tension felt against the Natural • The resistance to Nature creates frustration and tension

    27. Note Natural (Animal) Imagery; *Potential for loss of personality • Tess is repeatedly compared to animals: birds, cats, snakes, a leopard, a fly; • Tess is persistently engulfed by the vegetation of the natural world she inhabits • *“a field man is a personality afield; a field-woman is a portion of the field; she has somehow lost her own margin, imbibed the essence of her surrounding, and assimilated herself within it.” [Chapter 14, Phase 2]

    28. Angel - Tess • Angel’s doubts about marrying a woman who is beneath him in class • His fearful self-control • All these provide a feeling of resistance • But all, except his self-control are swept away finally • By the power of sex within Nature which • dominates this whole section of the novel