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Hardy's use of Pathetic Fallacy

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Introduction

"In Hardy's hands, setting is more than mere location - it is a tool for developing both characters and themes." Evidence that Hardy chooses his locations for reasons far beyond geographical significance is apparent throughout Tess of the D'Urbervilles. In Chapter 20 in particular, the natural environment seems to act as a metaphor for Tess' character. The chapter begins "The season developed and matured." This gives the impression that the surroundings have, at the very least, womanly qualities, and it seems sensible, therefore to apply this to Tess in light of Hardy's defence of her purity and womanhood. Much of this chapter centres on description and nature, and Tess herself is effortlessly woven into both of these. Hardy uses the metaphor of a river to describe Tess and Angel's early experiences of one another: "All the while they were converging, under an irresistible law, as surely as two streams in one vale." As Tess has already mean shown as a very natural being in previous parts of the novel, this implies that she is drawing Angel towards her in a way that causes him to become more 'of nature' as well. ...read more.

Middle

Chapter 47 is very different from this, it describes the "threshing of the last wheat rick at Flint-comb Ash Farm". There is a strong sense of negativity and hopelessness within this chapter, an effective use of pathetic fallacy illustrating Tess' situation in this part of her life. The chapter also serves to demonstrate one of Hardy's themes, his disapproval of the mechanisation of the agricultural industry. Firstly, the negativity of the scene is overwhelming. "The dawn of the March morning is singularly inexpressive, and there is nothing to show where the eastern horizon lies." This ties together with the repetitive nature of the work, creating a wholly depressing scene. "It was the ceaselessness of the work which tried her severely, and began to make her wish she had ever come to Flintcomb-Ash." And "For Tess there was no respite; for, as the drum never stopped, the man who fed it could not stop, and she... could not stop either." Hardy draws strong comparisons between the threshing machine and the devil, calling it "the red tyrant the women had come to serve". ...read more.

Conclusion

"All around was open loneliness and black solitude, over which a stiff breeze blew." There is almost an air of horror when they reach Stonehenge, as if it were foreshadowing the nature of Tess' forthcoming death. Even Tess acknowledges the irony of her presence with the druid temple: "you used to say at Talbothays that I was a heathen. So now I am home." This seems as if some intervention has caused Tess to happen upon the place that many people would believe (especially within the historically context of the novel) is fitting for her. While Tess sleeps, Angel contemplates the location: "The band of silver paleness along the east horizon made even the distant parts of the Great Plain seem dark and near". The threatening disposition of the environment creates a sense of foreboding directly before Angel learns Tess' fate. This setting bears little resemblance to the biblical locations previously in the novel, such as the Garden of Eden, Heaven or Hell, there is a distinct feeling that there is some kind of presence here. Is Hardy painting the image of a limbo-type place for Tess, as she is no longer pure enough for Heaven, but he cannot bear to condemn her to hell? ?? ?? ?? ?? Sophie Miller English Literature Block 5 ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This essay demonstrates some understanding Hardy's use of the pathetic fallacy, but it would benefit from a clearer and more logical structure. It seems to pick out random chapters without having a sense of the whole.
An essay of this kind demands closer analysis of both the language and the themes of the book, and how the two are linked.
***

Marked by teacher Val Shore 23/02/2012

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