- Published: November 20, 2022
- Updated: November 20, 2022
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Chapter 1 Introduction Tess of the D’urbervilles is an extraordinarily beautiful book, as well as an extraordinarily moving one. Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor foolish peasant, who believes that he is the descendant of an ancient aristocraticfamily, first is seduced by Alec, the son of the neighboring family by the name of D’urbervilles. Then Tess encounters Angel Clare, a man of liberal mind and the son of a clergyman, and they fall in love with each other. On the evening of their wedding ceremony, Tess confesses to Angel her seduction by Alec, and then Angel abandons her and leaves for Brazil by himself.
Subsequently Angel comes to understand his moral and intellectual arrogance and searches for Tess, only to find that the extremepovertyof her family has driven her back to Alec. So strong is Tess’s love for Angel and so powerful her disgust at Alec when Angel comes back to look for her that she kills Alec. After hiding for a short period of time with Angel, after spending a few days of loving reconciliation with Angel, Tess is arrested, sentenced to death for murder and executed essay writer price. The gloomily tragic atmosphere embedded in the novel is doubtlessly related to the author, Thomas Hardy’s views of life and world.
In addition, it fits in with Hardy’s desire to express the tragedy that the valuable is tortured and tangled by the irresistant force and at last is destroyed. Hardy is a well-known pessimist and abides by the belief of fatalism that “ everything in the universe is controlled by the Immanent Will”(Luo 1996: 206), which has no passions, no consciousness and no knowledge of the differences between the good and the evil and “ which is present in all parts of the universe and is impartially hostile towards human beings’ desire for joy andhappiness”(ibid. . So human beings are doomed tofailurewhen they struggle against the cruel and unintelligible fate, which is predestined by the Immanent Will. So there’s no doubt the prevailing moods in Tess of the D’urbervilles are tragic and gloomy. Tess’s tragic fate moves the readers so directly and profoundly that they only focus on the touching narration about Tess’s tragedy and give applause to the author’s genius on arranging such plot. But another unique characteristic of the novel—the remarkable
Chapter 2 Analysis of the Function of the Landscape Description on the Basis of Six Places There are six places—Marlott, Trantridge, Talbothays, Wellbridge flour-mills, Flintcomb-Ash and Stonehenge—constituting the foundation stone of this novel as well as the pillar of Tess’s sufferings and tragic fate. The landscape descriptions of these six places, connected with each other sequentially, form a river which propels the tragic waves in Tess’s life and winds its way from the beginning to the end of Tess’s life.
Every place represents one important period and level of Tess’s life and they unite together, making the development of the plot proceed forward compactly, smoothly and coherently, linking up different episodes of Tess’s life together, defining the basic tone of the setting. They become the symbols that indicate the fate of Tess, symbolize what Tess is feeling and thinking and predict a series of tortures that Tess will suffer from. 2. 1 Marlott 2. 1. 1 Tess’s hometown Marlott is not only Tess’s hometown where she indeed spends her happy times, more sarcastically, it is also the birth place of Tess’s tragedy.
It is a beautiful place and “ lay[s] amid the north-eastern undulations of the beautiful Vale of Blackmoor aforesaid, an engirdled and secluded region…” and “ this [is a] fertile and sheltered tract of country, in which the fields are never brown and the springs never dry…”(Hardy 1994: 18). Not only does the natural beauty drift in Marlott, but it has historical origins: “ the vale was known in former times asthe Forestof White Hart, from a curious legend of King Henry”(ibid. ). So with its naturally picturesque scenery as well as its historical background, Marlott gives people a feeling of comfort and relax.
Then the heroine Tess reveals her veil on an exciting event—May-Day dance. She wears the white gown and the red ribbon and “ she was a fine and handsome girl—not handsomer than some others, but her mobile peony mouth and large innocent eyes added eloquence to color and shape”(ibid. : 51). It seems that Tess, a fragment of the natural world, a natural phenomenon herself, so innocent, pure, naturally beautiful, is in complete harmony with the beautiful and historical place as well as the comfortable and happy atmosphere.
But a carriage carrying her drunk father breaks this harmony and some people begin to make jokes of her father which drops naive Tess in a deep shame. Then a young man of “ superior class” takes part in the dancing. That beautiful place, such beautiful Tess and a handsome young man, these are, undoubtedly, the complete elements of romance. However, nothing romantic happens but the regretful and lost chance. Although the young man feels a little bit sorry that he didn’t dance with the pretty maiden, yet he is anxious to walk and “ dismissed the subject”(ibid. : 23) quickly and easily.
The contrast between the beautiful landscapes and what Tess has encountered enables sensitive people to feel some tragic atmosphere, but it is so dim, thin and light, like the haze just emerging in the morning that people will soon forget its existence and ignore it. But after reading through the whole novel, we can find it very romantic that Tess and Angel encounter with each other at the beautiful May; but it’s really regretful and sad that they let each other slip easily. We couldn’t help asking “ why not Angel dance with Tess at that time and then love her when Tess was 16? ” then maybe Tess can avoid so many sufferings in the future. . 1. 2 The death of the horse It’s unexpected but solid truth that the true life doesn’t include such hopeful “ ifs” for Tess. What is waiting for Tess is the gloomy darkness and sorrow. They like fresh buds conceal themselves in the beautiful and lovely May, prying their chance and preparing for their complete appearance. With the development of the plot, we can feel that the darkness and tragedy is sucking the energy and growing gradually. So Tess’s duty and sufferings are also beginning to swell. When Tess helps her father deliver the beehives to the retailer, the Prince—her father’s horse dies on the road.
The hue of the landscapes suddenly converts to sorrow. “ The atmosphere turned pale, the birds shook themselves…the lane showed all its white features…Prince lay alongside still and stark” (ibid. : 37). “ Pale” “ white” and “ stark” indicate Tess’s moods after her murder of Prince. They express what Tess is thinking and feeling; like a translation machine, they translate the invisible emotion and inner meaning of Tess and it is Tess herself that is really pale, stunned and disappointed in her body as well as her spirits. Then in her despair Tess “ put[s] her hand upon the hole [Prince’s wound]”(ibid. whereas “ this gesture is as absurdly ineffectual as all her effort will be and the only result is that she becomes splashed with blood”(Van Ghent 1953: 430). Maybe this is the first time that Tess has faced such a bloody scene and it is also the first time that the author has referred to death and red blood in this novel. This scene arranged at the beginning of the novel seems to give a hint at something. The hints become a little bit clear with more clues given by the author. “ The pointed shaft of the cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like a sword”(Hardy 1994: 37). Sword” and bloods make us easily recall another scene that Alec is stabbed in the heart with a knife when we read through this novel. It seems that at the beginning Tess’s fate has been displayed to us implicitly. So this accident has a strong allusion to Tess’s future life. The death of the horse is the beginning of Tess’s tragic fate and forces Tess to leave her hometown and work at Trantridge where Tess’s body and mind both confront with a fatal shock and destroy and in the first time people can clearly feel the tragedy overflowing in the air. 2. 2 Trantridge 2. 2. 1 The Slopes
When Tess is forced to Trantridge to work for her rich relative D’urbervilles, she is stunned by Mrs D’urberville’s house—the Slopes. The house, beyond Tess’s expectation, is not an old mansion, instead, it’s almost new with crimson brick lodge, surrounded by various trees and planting. The person in the house, the young Alec D’urberville “ differed more from what Tess had expected than the house and grounds had differed. ” (ibid. : 43) Tess originally hopes “ an aged and dignified face” in an old mansion but what she sees is a beautiful and frivolous young man in a new house.
The new house, new persons, everything is new. This stimulates one’s curiosity towards a new life but also evokes one’s feeling of fear and unsafety because no one knows what’s on the road. There’s no denying that Tess will start a new life but what’s waiting for Tess? What interests Tess most may bemoney. “ Everything on this snug property was bright, thriving and well kept; …everything looked like money—like the last coin issued from the Mint” (ibid. : 41). “ Landscapes looked like money” but isn’t it Tess’s desire for money?
She kills the horse and cuts the important outlet of her family’s income resulting in her strong desire to get money to reduce her repentance. This indirect and reserved way to express her strong desire for money through landscapes fits in with the reserved nature of Tess perfectly. Maybe there’s money in Trantridge but in the shrub hides a devil—Alec, a fake noble descendant of the D’urbervilles. When he first sees Tess, he fully shows his hospitality and desire for Tess, offering Tess strawberries, filling her basket with them, putting roses in Tess’s bosom, accommodating Tess with a basket of light luncheon.
The landscapes around them are so bright and flowery that they make people in a good mood and temporarily forget the growing tragedy and darkness. The red strawberries, the red roses, that’s to say, the landscapes are surrounded by the color red. Even Tess under Alec’s decoration, becomes “ one who stood fair to be the blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life” (ibid. : 45) and radiates in the encirclement of the red hue. Her growing womanhood reflected by the red becomes so full that arouses Alec’s evil and erotic desires for her.
The landscapes here suggest a strong ardor and passion, but seemingly it is too strong to match the reserved feature of Tess, which makes Tess feel uncomfortable. Besides, the continual usage of the color red gives a hint for the sequent plot. Tess and Alec meet each other in a background with red things and the red strawberries and roses, which like a bridge, link Tess and Alec together but also predict the fate of Tess and Alec—Alec is killed by Tess and Tess is executed.
Both of them at last drops in the red bloods and are encircled by the color red. It looks like a circle of fate, meeting in the red landscapes and leaving and parting also in the terrible bloody red. The landscapes are the most powerful witness testifying what others cannot see and never ignore the hidden tragedy looming large around Tess. If we keep an eye on the landscapes, we couldn’t become so surprised when Alec reaches his evil hands for Tess. 2. 2. 2 Seduction in the Chase Alec commits his sins to Tess in the Chase, “ the oldest wood in England”.
Before theviolence, a turning point that sows the destined tragic seed for Tess’s future, happens, we can clearly smell the danger flowing in the air through the landscapes. “ With the setting of the moon the pale light lessened and Tess became invisible as she fell into reverie upon the leaves where he [Alec] had left her” (ibid. : 77). Without any defence, Tess shouldn’t have slept in the dead leaves and exposed herself to the darkness and the evil Alec. Innocent Tess has no sense of the danger. Then the landscapes, like the thunder and lighting beforethe storm, continue to give a hint at the impendent danger. The moon had quite gone down, and partly on account of the fog. The Chase was wrapped in thick darkness, although morning was not far off. (ibid. : 76) Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around. Above them rose the primeval yews and oaks of The Chase, in which were poised gentle roosting birds in their last nap. (ibid. : 77) The lights of the moon, the only light in the darkness, symbolizing the brightness and hope in the night, are disappearing and the darkness at last takes the upper hand. “ Doesn’t the heavy darkness symbolize the cruelty of the fate and the ruthlessness of the world? (Qi & Mogan 2001: 98). The moon finally cannot resist the rule of darkness just like the innocent Tess cannot escape Alec’s devil hands. How lonely and helpless Tess is at that time! No one comes to save her; no one consoles her. The only creature following her is the landscapes. Even under the control of the powerful kingdom of the darkness, in the wild forests with sparse people, the landscapes don’t abandon Tess. They see every torment Tess suffers and are much closer and kinder to Tess than the human beings.
Besides, the seduction is expounded by the author very indirectly and reservedly “ Alec stooped; … He knelt, and bent bower, till her breath warmed his face…” (Hardy 1994: 77). It seems Alec’s softness together with the foggy and dark landscapes reduce the cruelty of this bloody violence. But the wolf in sheep’s clothing is more horrible; the tragedy covered with comedic clothes is more tragic. The landscapes are not the excuse of violence but ironically enhance Tess’s tough sufferings. From Marlott to Trantridge, most times, Tess is alone.
No one follows her; no one will hear her painful heart-throbbing and feel her inner emotions except the landscapes. The landscapes’ mission as the prolocutor to transit Tess’s feeling and emotion become more obvious when she works in Talbothays. 2. 3 Talbothays When Tess leaves her hometown for the second time, it is also a lovely morning of May. The landscapes and theenvironmentaround Talbothays are so different from the Blackmoor Vale. The world was drawn to a larger pattern here… the green lea was speckled as thickly with them as a canvas. The ripe hue of the red and dun kine absorbed he evening sunlight… [T]he river flowed not like the streams in blackmoor…there the water-flower was the lily; (Hardy 1994: 108) All the landscapes, full of cheerfulness, freshness and strong vitality, reveal Tess’s spiritual conditions at that time when she is amid new scenes where there were no invidious eyes upon her. It seems to indicate they can nourish Tess’s hurt heart and renew her confidence and hope for life. They also pave the way for the beginning of a romantic love between Angel and Tess. Talbothays brings a favorable turn to Tess’s life.
At Talbothays, both the natural world and Tess come into ripe bloom. Tess is never happier in other places than in Talbothays and in accordance, the landscapes suddenly take off its sad and gloomy clothes and become very bright, soft and shining, giving people sensuous enjoyment. There’s a various visionary power of Hardy’s description of the lovers in the roused scene when Tess listens to Angel playing his harp in the overgrown garden. Tess had heard those notes in the attic. Dim, flattened, constrained by their confinement, they had never appealed to her as now… Tess, like a fascinated bird, could not leave the spot.
The outskirt of the garden in which Tess found herself had been left uncultivated for some years, and was now damp and rank with juicy grass which sent up mists of pollen at a touch… She went stealthily as a cat through this profusion of growth, gathering cuckoo-spittle on her skirts, cracking snails that were underfoot, staining her hands with thistle-milk and slug-slime, and rubbing off upon her naked arms sticky blights…(ibid. : 127). The intense eroticism of the writing, is not in the people but in the details of the scene: the sound of Angel’s harp and Tess’s move as a cat.
It is as though the landscapes themselves contain all the secret smells and juices of the act of physical passion. “ The stronger power of the novel derives, I think from Hardy’s ability to shift effortlessly from vivid details of the outer world to the most complex inner flow of character and emotion” (Alvarez 1992: 17). With the development of the relationship between Tess and Angel, the landscapes as Tess’s good friend share Tess’s happiness and become more exuberant and their hues become much brighter. “ The season eveloped and matured…Flowers, leaves, nightingales, thrushes, finches and such ephemeral creatures, took up their positions where only a year ago others had stood in their places…. Rays from the sunrise drew forth the buds…”(Hardy 1994: 133). Although the incident of the churning machine afflicts Tess and she feels guilty for other three beautiful and innocent girls, surrounded and nourished by the new and gorgeous landscapes, stimulated by her love for Angel, Tess is recovering from the heavy moral burden. Tess, after suffering so much, resumes her happiness, becomes “ the daughter of nature” and is harmonious with the landscapes again.
The generally luminous tone of the landscapes in Talbothays lasts until the eve of Tess and Angel’s wedding. Then the hidden darkness comes to its life and begins to give off its evil power. At their wedding eve, the sun seems tired and gives out dim lights and “ Gnats, …passed out of its line, and were quite extinct” (ibid. : 200). The prosperity, abundance and brightness of summer are diminishing and the cold winter is on the way. There’s a strong allusion that a happy episode of Tess’s life will end and another cold and brutal sorrow is waiting for Tess. 2. 4 Wellbridge flour-mills
As expected, a series of omens call on Tess heel by heel. First it’s the afternoon crow of a cock, which is believed to predict a bad omen. Then it’s their wedding house Wellbridge flour-mills that depressed Tess severely. He [Angel] looked up, and perceived two life-size portraits on panels built into the masonry…. these paintings represent women of middle age, of a date some two hundred years ago, … the long pointed features, narrow eye, and smirk of the one…; the bill-hook nose, large teeth, and bold eye of the other, …haunt the beholder in hisdreams. (ibid. : 214) The terrible portraits add a horrible atmosphere to the house.
The background is so uncomfortable and the happiness of their wedding is too dim to be felt. The originally beautiful, warm and lively landscapes completely shrink and wither. Furthermore, the sun sets down and “ it soon began to rain”(ibid. : 215). The rain adds some gloom to the looming darkness and makes people more depressed. It can be assumed the ghostly tragedy will inevitably attack Tess. The assumption is certified when Tess tells Angel her past. Angel’s confession to Tess arouses her hope of gettingforgivenessfrom Angel and makes her narrate her story calmly.
But the landscapes have foreseen the result. The ashes and Tess’s large shadow on the wall and ceiling forecast the forthcoming tragic storm. “ The ashes under the grate were lit by the fire vertically, like a torrid waste…. A large shadow of her shape rose on the wall and ceiling”(ibid. : 222). When Tess finishes her story, the fire is near to extinguishment. Angel “ stir[s] the fire”(ibid. : 225) but it makes no sense because his love fire for Tess is extinguishing. Then “ he leaves Tess, even though he knows that she is at least as pure as he is” (Williams 2005: 97).
The sad and near-to-death landscapes in Wellbridge flour-mills form a sharp contrast with the vivid landscapes in Talbothays and mirror the sudden falling of Tess’s emotions and moods. They enlarge the hidden and invisible pains in Tess’s mind and show a bloody scene to the readers that a pure woman is abandoned at the first night of her wedding. Such hurt Angel, Tess’s husband gives to her, is more severe, painful and ruthless than Alec’s because Alec seduces Tess’s body whereas Angel directly ruins Tess’s spiritual world and deprives almost everything valuable of Tess.
Tess is pushed to the verge of break-up and what remains is just a living corpse. 2. 5 Flintcomb-Ash But everything is continuing. Tess returns her hometown when Angel abandons her. However, the poverty of her family forces her to leave again. It’s not Tess’s desire of working in Flintcomb-Ash. She just hands over herself to the fate and obeys its order. Flintcomb-Ash is “ a starve-acre place”(Hardy 1994: 277) and the landscapes, like the moods of the heroine, have no passions and souls, just existing meaninglessly and barrenly. Although the life in Flintcomb-Ash is of no importance, yet it’s calm.
Meaningless calmness may be better than the ardent torture. If this life can last, it can be regarded as a God’s gift. But Satan has no sympathy. So more powerful tragedies draw near as if to snatch up the remaining energy of Tess. When Tess meets Alec in Flintcomb-Ash, there’s still the moon hanging in the sky. Why is there always the moon appearing? Where’s the sun? The moon has made everything clear. There’s no hope to dispel the darkness and escape the evil hand of fate. The tough landscapes depict the cruelty of the fate vividly.
It is so inhumane that it snatches a trunk without any spirits and vitality and does not give it freedom. It even takes the only love Tess remains for her family as weapons, and harshly arranges Tess to go back to Alec to support her family. The darkness and tragedy have grown up and swallow Tess’s everything, her body and her mind. 2. 6 Stonehenge Now that the struggle is fruitless then how does one get freedom and get rid of the cruel control of fate? Tess uses an extreme way to achieve her goal. She kills Alec and gets peace in Stonehenge—the heathen temple.
The pillars there are very merciful and Tess “ was sheltered from the wind by a pillar” and “ the stone was warm and dry, in comforting contrast to the rough and chill grass around…”(ibid. : 379). When the human world tries best to capture Tess after her “ cruel violence”, the Stonehenge accepts her and offers what it can offer—a place to rest. There’s no happiness in the human world when Tess obeys all the rules, so after her “ cruel violence”, the world shuts its door for Tess more firmly and “ righteously” and only the merciful landscapes hold Tess.
Although the landscapes cannot do more and cannot save Tess, yet they never abandon Tess and help much to alleviate her pains and sufferings. Chapter 3 The Author’s Opinions on the Characters The landscapes serve for Tess’s prolocutor but they are also arranged to express the author’s opinions. Hardy, through the landscape description, becomes Tess’s protector, defender, comforter, lover—but one who ultimately fails in all those roles, since in the end he could not prevent her from dying. 3. Hardy’s involvement in the novel through the landscapes Hardy, like an experienced elder, in fact, from the beginning, always worries about Tess’s fate. He involves in the stage of Tess’s life by the landscapes: when Tess first meets Alec and Alec puts lots of flowers in Tess’s bosom, Hardy expresses his misgiving “ that behind the blue narcotic haze was potentially the ‘ tragic mischief’ of her drama”(Hardy 1994: 45); when Tess is seduced by Alec in the Chase, Hardy together with the landscapes gives a painful plaint “ where was Tess’s guardian angel?
Where was the Providence of her simple faith? ”(ibid. : 77). When Tess and Angel fall in love with each other in Talbothays, he gives a more detailed description of the lovers walking in the dawn: The mixed, singular, luminous gloom in which they walked along to the spot where the cows lay…she looked ghostly, as if she were merely a soul at large. In reality her face…had caught the cold gleam of day from the north-east…(ibid. : 134) At these non-human hours they could get quite close to the water-fowl.
Herons came, … watching them by moving their heads round in a slow, horizontal, passionless wheel, like the turn of puppets by clockwork. (ibid. : 135) What is at stake in these paragraphs is not a mere courtship, nor even a description of the forces why Angel falls in love with Tess. On the contrary, Angel seems left behind. It’s as if the author—Hardy were alone with his heroine, watching her fascinated, almost surprised by the power of the woman he himself has created.
It seems that Hardy, after a painstaking self-control of his emotion, could no longer stand just as a passer-by but involves in the story through the sensitive landscapes and begins to communicate with Tess. 3. 2 Another important character—Hardy himself Another evidence to show Hardy’s self-position in the novel, is that Alec, Angel or other characters, are just passing traveler. “ None of the secondary figures has much interest in his own right, apart from his capacity to illuminate and enlarge the experience of Tess”(Howe 1967: 442). The swiftness with which the other characters diminish, becoming pale and without substance when compared with Tess, and the continual emergence of the landscapes are perhaps a mirror of the way in which Hardy’s personal involvement alters with the story” (Alvarez 1992: 19). He becomes the only character as important as Tess in the novel. When Angel abandons Tess and Tess works hard and lonely in Flintcomb-Ash, the author wins enough space and time to stay with his heroine alone and spends lots of energy describing the harsh and tough environment to express his sympathy and understanding to Tess.
After Tess nips her eyebrows off and tries her effort to uglify herself, “ she walks on, a figure which is a part of the landscape; a field woman pure and simple… Inside this exterior, over which the eye might have roved as over a thing scarcely percipient, there was the record …of the cruelty of lust and the fragility of love”(Hardy 1994: 272-273). “ Pure”, “ simple” and “ inside this exterior” show that Hardy not only knows Tess’s appearance very well, but his understanding of the inner Tess is beyond anyone else.
Angel who loves and takes Tess more as an imaginative Goddess cannot compare with him, not to mention Alec who addicts to Tess’s natural beauty. Hardy’s description seems to be objective, but mixes so much his sadness. When Tess reaches Flintcomb-Ash, “ before her, in a slightdepression, were the remains of a village…. Hither she was doomed to come”(ibid. : 274). “ Depression” “ doom”, what Tess feels is seemingly just the author’s feelings. Through his such musing voices he makes his presence steadily felt. He like a kind father hovers and watched over Tess.
He is as tender as possible to Tess. After thehard workin the Flintcomb-Ash, after her father’s death, after the homelessness of her family, Tess disappears from the horizon. At last, Angel appears and Tess also restages. “ But it was not clear to him till later; that his original Tess had spiritually ceased to recognize the body before him as hers—allowing it to drift, like a corpse…”(ibid. : 366). What Hardy is painfully describing is the tragic fact that even though he doesn’t want to accept, the spirits of Tess has died and only a corpse remains.
And Angel, Tess’s husband, hasn’t recognized the truth, which ironically reveals the tragic truth: Angel might not deserve Tess’s so deep and passionate and unconditional love. But Hardy seemingly doesn’t want to end his heroine’s life so sadly and so he leaves five happy days for their escape. Outwardly the author creates a temporarily calm environment for Angle and Tess, but it’s more suitable to say that the five days is just an alleviant to lower Tess’s tragedy more or less and also for the author to make a farewell to his created creature and reduce his sadness.
The temporary happiness elapses, and the straining fight against fate is futile. And the last tragedy is doomed to come as Hardy’s pessimistic faith to life. In the holy and serious Stonehenge surrounded by beautiful landscapes, Tess’s life as well as her sufferings comes to an end. The band of silver paleness along the east horizon made even the distant parts of the Great Plain appear dark and near; and the whole enormous landscapes bore that impress of reserve, taciturnity….
The eastward pillars and their architraves stood up blackly against the light, … (ibid. : 381) In this continually roused haunting descriptions of the landscapes, “ which crystallize into visionary states of mind and above all in the power and beauty of the heroine who he created and then unwillingly, destroyed” (Alvarez 1992: 22), Tess wins death as a reward and “ the President of the immortals had ended his sport with Tess”(Hardy 1994: 384), so Tess obtains freedom from the intolerable agony of living. Chapter 4 Conclusion
The novel is so direct in its appeal and unambiguous in its story-line; the plot is not particularly original in its framework, and in the end it cannot by itself account for the novel’s power. Two remarkable elements in its creation have a significant role to play: one is the passionate commitment to the central character with which the novel is written; the other is the integration of the characters including the author with their environment and landscapes, which Hardy achieved more fully here than anywhere else.
The story of Tess of the D’urbervilles begins with the big event of May-Day Dance in the lovely May and ends up with the death of Tess in July. The change of the landscapes, following the season, the weather, the time, predict the main rhythm of the development of the plot and foresee the ups and downs of Tess’s whole life. The characters and the landscapes unite well together and enhance the tragic atmosphere of this novel and demonstrate Tess profoundly.
Tess, as if she were a natural phenomenon, is set in the appropriate landscapes: her innocence in the tame, mild Vale of Blackmoor; her seduction in the Chase; then her idyllic love affair with Angel in the sensual Paradise garden of Talbothays in the Vale of the big Dairies; “ her period of desolation at Flintcomb-Ash, where the unforgiving landscape is as stripped of comfort and vegetation as she is of love and hope; finally, her sacrificial consummation on the altar-stone of Stonehenge” (Alvarez 1992: 12).
Besides, from the beginning to the end, the author Hardy embodies himself the most beautiful but maybe the saddest scenery to follow Tess, to console her and expatiate her. Tess, Hardy and the landscapes reflect each other, match each other, cooperate with each other, and are integrated together, at last, demonstrate Tess’s tragic fate.
The remarkable way of the landscape description as well as the the misery and tragedy besieging Tess offers the most deeply moving reading experience and make people taste the great power of tragedy. The landscapes, like the Phosphor, emit its light and brightness, shining the road and guiding us to understand the characters and the novel more clearly and drastically.
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