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Examine Hardy's narrative technique, taking note of imagery, symbolism, description and character portrayal.

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Introduction

Examine Hardy's narrative technique, taking note of imagery, symbolism, description and character portrayal. The 'rape scene', towards the end of Chapter XI is an interesting passage, and provides a pivotal moment in the novel, one which Tess will always refer back to. After an exhausting night of dancing with her friends, Tess is saved by Alec after tittering at her workmate covered in treacle. On the journey home with Alex, after the 'triumph' of her escape wares off, the fatigue of the week's work sets in and Tess becomes drowsy. Throughout the journey Alec pesters her with his 'love-making', playing on her 'inexpressible weariness'. Hardy creates a languid mood along the early-morning country road, which is conveyed by the 'drowsiness' that 'overcomes' Tess. When she first slips into slumber, a 'moment of oblivion', and leans on his shoulder, Alec interprets it as a sexual advance, even though it is just a fatigue-induced weakness. Hardy describes Alec's attempt to embrace her as 'enclosing her waist', which creates an image of capture and incarceration, and Tess' ensuing reaction is one of defence and disgust. ...read more.

Middle

Already Alec has used a variety of methods in an attempt to woo Tess; he has imposed himself upon her, enticed her and got her lost. Even though she shivers, Tess does not want to show a vulnerability to Alec, and tells him she is 'not very' cold when he asks. However, Alec imposes the contents of the druggist's bottle upon her. Hardy allures to Alec's impending unwanted sexual urges when he describes how his fingers 'sank into her as into a billow'. This penetrating act portrays her softness, delicacy and pliability, and shows Alec's sexual pressurising of Tess. Hardy uses verbs such as 'plunged' and 'pushed' to portray the forcefulness with which Alec goes out his task and suggest the his barbaric nature. I feel that in this passage Tess is likened to the moon; both are pale and innocent, and Hardy mentions the 'moonlit person' of Tess. Also, the lunar sequence has long been soon associated with the menstrual cycle, and hardy mentions that as soon as the 'moon had quite gone down', Tess becomes entombed in darkness, as the night itself becomes pitch black. ...read more.

Conclusion

He suggests that there is no goodness in the world if a pure woman can be robbed of her dignity in such a way. Hardy uses a number of metaphors to describe Tess, whilst in the 'hands of the spoiler', describing Tess as 'blank as snow', and questions how such 'beautiful feminine tissue' could be blemished in such a way. The fact that the rape took place in The Chase is interesting, as it the ancient forest over which her ancestors once presided, but Hardy emphasises the fact that there are no chivalrous knights to protect her. Hardy deals with the actual rape itself in a detached and ambiguous manner, with a lingering sense of fatalism attached. With a rare authorial intrusion, he cites that 'it was to be'. The human in Hardy reacts that the human tissue should be so 'coarsely' imprinted upon, and contemplatively underlines the pity that the purity and beauty of Tess has been forever tainted, and that she is indeed a 'maiden no more'. 1,047 Words ...read more.

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