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Tess of the d'Urbevilles: by Thomas Hardy

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Introduction

GCSE Coursework: pre1914 prose study: Tess of the d'Urbevilles: by Thomas Hardy "How does Hardy lead us to feel sympathy for Tess?" I think that throughout the novel Thomas Hardy uses many different techniques that lead his readers to feel sympathy for Tess. Through reading Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbevilles' I have realised that it is invaluable that the readers of any novel sympathise with and feel compassion for the main character. In writing 'Tess of the D'Urbevilles' Thomas Hardy is very successful in grabbing the attention and sentiments of the reader and then steering their emotions so that they feel empathy and understanding for the character Tess. Hardy does this from the very first time we are introduced to Tess. The first time we see Tess is at the Woman's Walking Club Festival, Hardy describes her as 'a fine and handsome girl, with a mobile peony mouth and large innocent eyes' (Chapter II), 'a small minority would look long at her in casually passing and grow momentarily fascinated by her freshness...' (Chapter II). This description of pure beauty and innocence captures the imagination of the readers and we begin to build a relationship with the character. The beauty and goodness that we see in Tess draws us to her, and engenders a feeling of affection for her, in this way Hardy is preparing us for later in the book when we see Tess suffering, and feel sympathy for her. ...read more.

Middle

Hardy believed that the natural world equalled goodness and simplicity and that industrialisation and technology were the world's evils. This was an interesting and controversial attitude for a man of Hardy's class, and it is surprising that he uses it in this book, which was written for an educated, upper-class audience. Hardy portrays Tess as a perfect personification of nature, and of rural life, and therefore according to the pastoral attitude she is goodness and simplicity. By highlighting the good and beautiful aspects of Tess' character Hardy, again, leads his readers to believe that Tess does not deserve the hardship she suffers. One such reference to this era of pastural perfection that enforces this idea is in Chapter III when Hardy describes Tess' house to have been 'laid out before inches of land had value, before it was necessary to rush anywhere, and when one-handed clocks sufficiently sub-divided the day'. This musing, almost bitter style of writing suggests that Hardy would have preferred life in these previous times. In some ways, Tess still seems to be living in this 'golden-era' of pastoral perfection. She is very trusting and believes all others to be as altruistic and philanthropic as herself, she is very na�ve to the evils of the world: "I was a child when I left this house four months ago, why did you not warn me there was danger I men-folk?" ...read more.

Conclusion

One could also argue that the stubble of harvest signifies Tess' child, as he has come from Alec as the stubble has from the corn, however, I prefer the notion that the stubble represents the consequences of her actions-that is, the common revulsion at Tess' 'offence against society' in bringing the baby into the world. The image of Tess at work in the fields and the corn wounding her arm, represents Tess as a victim of social standards. The acknowledgement of this symbolism makes a strong impact on the reader, allowing us (the readers) to understand Tess' emotions and actions and ultimately leading us to feel sympathetic towards Tess because we see her as a victim of social standards. Hardy builds on this point of Tess as a victim of social standards by often displaying to the reader that regardless of her noble-blood, Tess often falls foul of the colossal class-divide, which was in place at this time. It is partly the divide between classes which 'allows' Alec to rape Tess: 'Doubtless some of Tess d'Urbeville's mailed ancestors rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of their time' (Chapter XX). Throughout the book, the Hardy clarifies the divide between classes with the differences in language used by different characters; for example when Tess is speaking, she speaks frankly and openly: "It would be better to do it now I think" (Chapter XXXIII. ...read more.

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