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Chapter 5 - How does Hardy present characters and the setting in this particular chapter?

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Introduction

Natalie Smith 12f Chapter 5 How does Hardy present characters and the setting in this particular chapter? The central character in this chapter is Tess, and Hardy reveals to the readers how Tess's guilt leads her to Alec, who has a lot more on his mind then just helping Tess's family. Tess is very beautiful and men are always pursuing her, either for purely sexual reasons or because she represents an excitingly unformed life waiting to be molded. The landscape and Tess are often described similarly, and the seasons and the weather reflect her emotional and physical state. The naturalistic imagery that Hardy uses is an important component of his style, which is characterized both by beautiful descriptive passages and by more philosophical or abstract asides detailing the ironies of his characters' lives and fates. The countryside is almost a character in Tess. Much of the time the settings reflect what's happening to Tess and the characters that influence her life. Each station or place where Tess stops is a testing place for her soul. Nature also reflects the characters' emotions and fortunes. For example, when Tess is happy, the sky is blue and birds sing. When events turn out badly the earth appears harsh and coldly indifferent to her agony. Nature is also depicted in the many journeys that take place in Tess. Both traveling and the rhythms of nature are seen as causing fatigue in the novel. Hardy focuses very heavily on Tess's reactions to the events around her and shows us the world more or less through her eyes. In this chapter Tess, convinced she has murdered Prince, feels responsible for her family's subsequent lack of livelihood and therefore complies with Joan's wish that she go in search of their rich relations Tess seems older than her years in her willingness to accept adult responsibilities, but she's also very naive and inexperienced. ...read more.

Middle

She is unaware of her own sexuality and thus cannot perceive the danger that Alec d'Urberville presents to her. Tess is very wary, and she has no idea what to expect. The situation is an embarrassing one, but Tess' guilt has driven her their, so now she feels it' her obligation for the family. Her guilt and naivity could cause Tess problems as Hardy indicates. "I thought we were an old family; but this is all new!" she said, in her artlessness. She wished that she had not fallen in so readily with her mother's plans for "claiming kin," and had endeavoured to gain assistance nearer home.'' A young man with an almost swarthy complexion answers the door, and claims to be Alec d'Urberville. He does not allow Tess to see his mother, for she is an invalid, but she tells him that she is a poor relation. Alec shows her the estate, and he promises that his mother will find a berth for her. He tells her not to bother with the Durbeyfield name, but she says she wishes for no better. Alec prepares to kiss her, but lets her go. Tess perceives nothing, but if she had, she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man. From Alec's introduction in the novel, Alec d'Urberville represents a sexuality that contrasts with Tess Durbeyfield's innocence. However, as important as his sexuality is the danger inherent in his sensuality. His early attempt to seduce Tess only serves to foreshadow later, more serious attempts to infringe on his cousin's innocence. Hardy even explicitly notes the danger that Alec d'Urberville poses to Tess. Alec is presented a typical Victorian rake, and indeed seems somewhat stereotyped at times, with his curled moustache and melodramatic phrases to seduce Tess. He is deceptive and often cruel to Tess, though he can be kind to her as well; he seems to follow whatever plan seems most likely to succeed, for he has a genuine lust for her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Tess appears mature, she is na�ve and not able to defend her self against Alec, who is devious and has more experience with life. The blood statement used in this part of the chapter' the blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life', is I think Hardy hinting to the reader of something bad to come, and that death is not long of Tess and maybe Alec would be a part of ruining Tess's innocence. 'For a moment--only for a moment--when they were in the turning of the drive, between the tall rhododendrons and conifers, before the lodge became visible, he inclined his face towards her as if--but, no: he thought better of it, and let her go'. Alec has already decided on a plan in which to get Tess. Hardy has already suggested a number of times in the way Alec looks and admires Tess that he feels attracted to her young, na�ve, striking look Tess has about her. Alec knows he has to be careful in the way he goes about this, and I think he decides to kiss her, but doesn't think the timing is quite right, after all he doesn't want to scare her off. There is also a strong sense of entrapment that Hardy conveys, as if to let the reader know that Tess has made a very wrong move in visiting Alec, but is now trapped in the situation. 'Had she perceived this meeting's import she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects' Hardy uses time as an arch instrument of Fate, but it operates within the bounds of credibility and as a powerful aid to distinction in Tess. I think Hardy, in this chapter is showing how woman is Fate's most important instrument for opposing man's happiness. Hardy shows that Tess is helpless in the hands of Fate and carries out Fate's work. ...read more.

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