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Comment on setting in both "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" and Disraeli's "Sybil"

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Introduction

Comment on setting in both Tess of the D'Urbervilles and another Victorian novel In any novel, the setting is vital, and often reflects the situation in either the plot or the characters feelings. In the Victorian novels setting was often either in the country side, surrounded by nature, in a world that was soon to change, an idealistic look back at the naturalistic world the author looked back to. Otherwise it would be set in the newly industrializing towns, such as London, providing an opinion on the evolution of towns and industry. Whilst there were exceptions to this, such as Disraeli's 'Sybil', in which the country is depicted in an entirely ghastly place, the tendencies of novels of the time were to use the nature around them to show exactly how the character was feeling, or what was going on. A prime example of this is Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, where not only does Hardy babble on like some idyllic stream about rural life, but he also utilises his setting to depict and dictate the mood to be experienced by Tess. Other books of the period also use setting to great effect, and I will also discuss these in accordance and in comparison to Tess. ...read more.

Middle

It is a barren cruel and unforgiving landscape, and this is reflected in the novel, with Tess feeling abandoned and desperate, shunned by everyone around her. The society has treated her cruelly, and now in turn so does the land, Hardy piles on misery upon Tess in every way, the land around her including. It is evident throughout the novel how 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. You'll notice that as Tess nears the end of her life she doesn't want to move at all. At the same time the natural rhythms of growth and seasonal change are vital to earthly continuity. We see Hardy's belief in the constant movement of human feeling between pain and pleasure is also reflected in the seasonal nature of life. As you read Tess is aware that Tess' life begins and ends in the spring, that she falls in love during the fecund summer months, and that she marries, ominously, in the dead of winter. ...read more.

Conclusion

It mirrors the roughness of those who live there: Wuthering Heights is firmly planted in its location and could not exist anywhere else. Knowing Emily Bronte's passionate fondness for her homeland, we can expect the same bleakness which Lockwood finds so disagreeable to take on a wild beauty. Its danger cannot be forgotten, though: a stranger to those parts could easily lose his way and die of exposure. Heathcliff and the wind are similar in that they have no pity for weakness. The somewhat menacing presence of the natural world can also be seen in the large number of dogs who inhabit Wuthering Heights: they are not kept for pets. So we see how setting plays a huge part in establishing not only characters and plots, but most especially the mood of these novels. When we are meant to feel low, both authors condemn us to dark and cruel places, accentuating the dire circumstances of the characters we are meant to sympathise with, and yet when all is going well, we are returned to beautiful places, awe-inspiring, showing us that characters are on the up. Both novels employ this tactic, and both place a large amount of sentiment towards nature, as if ruing the industrialization, they see nature as fragile, just like the characters they have become or go on to portray. ...read more.

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