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Tess of the D'urbervilles.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Tess of the D'urbervilles Chapter 31 Alexis Canoy Ms. Fanara A.P. English November 10, 2003 Chapter 31 The depth of artistic unity found in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles pervades every chapter of the novel. No one chapter is less important than another because each is essential in order to tell the tragic tale of Tess Durbeyfield. There is never an instance in Hardy's prose that suggests frill or excess. Themes of the Industrial Revolution in England, the status of women during Victorian England, Christianity vs. Paganism, matters of nobility, and the role that fatalism plays in life weave together with various symbols to create an amazing flow to his novel. At the beginning of chapter thirty-one, Joan Durbeyfield has just sent a letter with her advice to Tess. She tells Tess to keep her past from Angel a secret. Tess' mother is a practical woman who knows that Angel will be like most men and will reject Tess once he discovers the truth. It is important that Joan makes an appearance in this chapter because Tess' parents' influence on their daughter is integral to the plot of the novel from the beginning. In fact, a line can be traced from Tess to her parents to the effect of the Industrial Revolution on the peasantry of England. At the beginning of the novel, Tess offers to go Casterbridge to deliver the beehives that her father was supposed to deliver. John Durbeyfield is unable to make this delivery because he has yet again inebriated after having made a visit to Rolliver's Inn. Tess' father is just one example of the many victims of the Industrial Revolution. He and Joan are "representatives of the disaffected and drunken villagers whose houses will soon fall to larger farms mass-producing crops for mass consumption."1 The villagers of Wessex and other similar areas in England, as a result of the Industrial Revolution, have turned to drinking because of their economic deprivation. ...read more.

Middle

(208). This reference to the poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley is a reflection of the kind of love that Angel is capable of. George Bernard Shaw comments on Byron's style in the following excerpt from his comedy and philosophy "Man and Superman": ...he is dumb: he does not discuss himself...he does not even, like Casanova, tell his own story. In fact he is not a true Don Juan at all; for he is no more an enemy of God than any romantic and adventurous young sower of wild oats...Byron was as little of a philosopher as Peter the Great...the resultant unscrupulous freedom of thought made Byron a bolder poet than Wordsworth just as it made Peter a bolder king than George III; but as it was, after all, only a negative qualification, it did not prevent Peter from being an appalling blackguard and an arrant poltroon, nor did it enable Byron to become a religious force like Shelley.4 Shelley's poetry is known to be more philosophical than Byron's, a fact which may perhaps be attributed to his belief in free love. But to remain to the point, Angel's love, like Byron's poetry, is superficial and does not reach beyond the surface. In fact, Hardy goes on to say that Angel "...could love desperately, but with a love more especially inclined to the imaginative and ethereal..." (208). Angel's love for Tess is quixotic - an ideal that he has imagined- and it is an ideal that Tess can not live up to. The pedestal that he has put Tess on is sure to fall because its foundation is built on pretense. Throughout the novel, Hardy uses nature to parallel the events of Tess' life. So it is fitting that at this moment of "ecstasy" in Tess' life, nature is present to mirror the disillusionment of Tess and Angel's love. Tess and Angel are taking a walk on a fine, October day with the "bright sunshine" upon them and their shadows stretching "a quarter mile ahead of them." ...read more.

Conclusion

Retty put her hands upon Tess' shoulders, as if to realize her friend's corporeality after such a miracle, and the other two laid their arms round her waist, all looking into her face. (214) The whole act conjures up a pagan-like quality. The white gowns that the girls are dressed in recalls images of the May Day dance when the maidens of Marlott would uphold the local tradition of the Cerealia. In fact, the club is described as a "votive sisterhood of some sort" (23) - similar to a wicca gathering. The girls in their symbolic white gowns, surround Tess with their own purity. Tess worries that she is tainted because of Alec, but as the milkmaids show the reader, she is actually enveloped in her own purity. Even the fact that there are three dairymaids is symbolic. The number three is a biblical reference used throughout the book. Three cocks crow when Angel and Tess on the day of their marriage. It is three weeks after their marriage that Angel and Tess part. The hour of day at three o'clock is often used in the novel to denote an instance when something bad has occurred or will occur (e.g. when Tess and Alec meet again under the "three-o'clock sun"). The sincerity of the three dairymaid friends for Tess' happiness is, however, unlucky for Tess. Ironically, it is at this moment that she deems it necessary to tell Angel of her past. Marian tells her, "...you ought to be proud. You be proud, I'm sure," (215). She is now resolved to tell all to Angel because her pride deems it necessary. Chapter thirty-one of Tess of the D'Urbervilles easily ties itself together with Hardy's other fifty-eight chapters. He uses a tragic plot structure to make several social comments on religion, the Industrial Revolution, and the Victorian. Hardy maintains a high level of artistic integrity throughout the novel and painstakingly makes a point to have every word of it fit into his grand scheme. ...read more.

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