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Tess of the DUrbervilles Phase the Seventh: Fulfillment Chapters 53-59 Violence in Beauty, Beauty in Violence.

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Presentation on theme: "Tess of the DUrbervilles Phase the Seventh: Fulfillment Chapters 53-59 Violence in Beauty, Beauty in Violence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tess of the DUrbervilles Phase the Seventh: Fulfillment Chapters Violence in Beauty, Beauty in Violence

2 Hardys originality British fiction (18 th – 19 th C.) tended to present the sexually ruined woman as pitiful, shame-filled, mute, groveling, doomed and in some way blameworthy because she is the mythic daughter of Eve.

3 However, unlike the submissive, passive victims of conventional ruined maiden novels, Hardys Tess is willing to oppose in doing violence to her male oppressors and to herself. Hardy is perhaps distinctive in aestheticizing violence in his portrayal of the sexual ruin of a woman (i.e. he weds beauty to the ugliness of Tesss violence, along with her suffering & agony).

4 Why this aestheticization of violence? To colour an impression of sexual pessimism To live is to suffer because to live is to know desire, which is to know the pain of its non-fulfilment. Ironic that Phase the Seventh is entitled Fulfilment

5 To sustain the ambivalent characterization of Tess as both virgin & whore, innocent & guilty Delicate act of presenting Tesss violent retaliation (culminating in her murder of Alec) without sacrificing the readers sympathy for a gentle and good hearted girl

6 By what narrative methods? Strategy of indirection Multiple perspectives Mediated by an omniscient narrator who modulates btwn detachment and moral involvement Irony Imagery - pictorial & poetic use of language Allusion

7 Murder of Alec Use of a minor character, Mrs Brooks Filters the lurid and violent details of Tesss murderous act in the room at The Herons, Sandbourne Intensity of this dramatic act lies in the suppression of pain, where Hardy counteracts the horror of violence through a neutralizing, sanitizing or distancing irony

8 The reader is dispassionately positioned, alongside Mrs Brooks, as an onlooker & eavesdropper with no direct access to Tesss mind. We learn instead more about Mrs Brooks feelings, which range from mild curiosity to horror and panic. Progression from the banal situation of an inquisitive landlady eavesdropping on her guests to a comic image of her becoming a nerveless woman, and to the melodramatic Drip, drip, drip

9 No direct insight into Tesss state of mind Emotions as she is driven to extremes can only be conjectured Dramatic (rather than psychological) intensity sustained through a quick succession of audio & visual occurrences linked loosely with commas and the coordinating conjunction and

10 she could now hear the floorboards slightly creak, as if some one were walking about, and presently the movement was explained by the rustle of garments against the banisters, the opening and closing of the front door, and the form of Tess passing to the gate on her way into the street. (p.381) Note the use of onomatopoeia (creak, rustle; also a low note of moaning … O-O-O; Drip, drip, drip)

11 Imagery - Colour & Blood Characteristic of Hardys dramatic method is the use of a striking visual image The scarlet blot on the oblong white ceiling is startlingly realistic & symbolic, announcing silently but irresistibly Alecs murder. Transformation of the white ceiling into a gigantic ace of hearts suggests that human fate (including that of Tess) is subject to the blind laws of chance no less that a game of cards

12 Scarlet blot – a culmination of a pattern of symbolic references to the colour red & blood, ranging from the red ribbon worn by Tess to the crimson drops of life-blood Prince splashed on her. Relates Tesss violence to her family history

13 he [Clare] looked at her as she lay upon his shoulder, weeping with happiness, and wondered what obscure strain in the DUrberville blood had led to this aberration – if it were an aberration. There momentarily flashed through his mind that the family tradition might have arisen because the DUrbervilles had been known to do these things … he supposed that in the moment of mad grief of which she spoke her mind had lost its balance, and plunged her into this abyss. (p.385)

14 The scarlet blot also marks the climax of a culmination of earlier episodes of violence a)Tess tenderly breaking the necks of the wounded bleeding pheasants to put them out of their torture in Chap. 41 Recalls her flirtation with suicide (by hanging) shortly after Angel has rejected her When Tess victimizes the birds, however tenderly, she could be said to be vengefully enacting her sense of her own victimization.

15 b)At Flintcomb-Ash farm, upon Alecs insult of Angel, Tess retaliates by smashing her heavy leather glove against his mouth and spilling his blood. A scarlet oozing appeared where her blow had alighted (Ch.47, p.331) Now punish me! she said, turning up her eyes to him with the hopeless defiance of the sparrows gaze before its captor twists its neck. (p.332) Now punish me! she said, turning up her eyes to him with the hopeless defiance of the sparrows gaze before its captor twists its neck. (p.332)

16 Vengeance fulfilled by Tesss murder of Alec, which is also an act of justice undertaken reclaim her autonomy & personal happiness with Angel Yet, she is ironically arrested and hung by the neck on a scaffold at Wintoncester as a criminal when she takes justice into her own hands. Parallels earlier images of the pheasants & sparrow

17 Imagery – Dressing Tess leaves the house fully dressed … in the walking costume of a well-to-do young lady. Contrast with Tesss earlier appearance as a scantily- clothed kept mistress before Angel: loosely wrapped in a rich cashmere dressing- gown of gray-white, embroidered in half-mourning tints. (p.379) Contrast suggests Tesss transformation from a state of vulnerability to self-possession. Yet, even the walking costume is a garb that we do not naturally associate with Tess – ambivalence in her characterization

18 with the sole addition that over her hat and black feathers a veil was drawn (p.381) The veil suggests stealth & secrecy linked to the criminal act of murdering Alec. Yet, it also displays vagueness in concealment, as if to caution the reader not to simply misread Tesss criminal violence as a determination of her nature. The black feathers of Tesss hat may remind a Victorian reader of the black ostrich plumes used to decorate the horses pulling a hearse – echoes bird imagery, ominous DUrberville coach & death

19 Physical violence against Alec parallels the emotional violence Tess directs at Angel through her letters that express increasing anger and sense of injustice. Think – think how it do hurt my heart not to see you ever – ever! Ah, if I could only make your heart ache one little minute of each day of mine does every day and all day long, it might lead you to show pity to your poor lonely one. (p.337) O why have you treated me so monstrously, Angel! I do not deserve it … You are cruel, cruel indeed! (p.368) Tess deflects her wish to make Angels heart ache by driving a knife into Alecs heart.

20 Recommended! Online Study Guide for Tess – Crossref- it.info of-the-d'Urbervilles/11/0

21 By what narrative methods? Strategy of indirection Multiple perspectives Mediated by an omniscient narrator who modulates btwn detachment and moral involvement Irony Imagery - pictorial & poetic use of language Allusion

22 The Execution Similar strategy of narrative indirection – Tesss death is narrated by hints and implications rather than by direct statement. Hardys narrator shifts btwn two voices: detached guide & sympathetic onlooker Prevents Angels & Liza-Lus sorrow from overpowering the readers perception of the magnificence of Wintoncester

23 Narrator as Detached Guide The city of Wintoncester, the fine old city, aforesaid capital of Wessex, lay amidst its convex and concave downlands in all the brightness and warmth of a July morning […] In the valley beneath lay the city they had just left, its more prominent buildings showing as in an isometric drawing (p )

24 Narrator as Sympathetic Onlooker Though they were young they walked with bowed heads, which gait of grief the suns rays smiled on piteously […] They moved on hand in hand, and never spoke a word, the drooping of their heads being that of Giottos Two Apostles (p )

25 Giottos Two Apostles – now thought to be the Two Haloed Mourners from the Burial of St John the Baptist

26 Architectural imagery Ironic contrast btwn the magnificent buildings of past ages (e.g. the cathedral, ancient hospice) and the stark utilitarian prison referred to as the one blot on the citys beauty. Against these far stretches of country rose … a large red-brick building … contrasting greatly by its formalism with the quaint irregularities of the Gothic erections. (p.397)Against these far stretches of country rose … a large red-brick building … contrasting greatly by its formalism with the quaint irregularities of the Gothic erections. (p.397)

27 Hardy blocks emotional response by attending to the architectural beauty of the spectacle that frames Tesss death. Christian charity juxtaposed against the repressive heartlessness of a penal system that can execute a young woman Superimposing one visual image upon another – as if to blur the line btwn beauty and the ugliness of her execution, loss and grief

28 Tesss death by execution laconically announced, first as a something then as a black flag in a short simple sentence. The first compound sentence of the closing paragraph moves from an indictment of human justice to an attack of the Christian faith: Justice was done, and the President of the Immortals (in Aeschylean phrase) had ended his sport with Tess. (p.397) Concept of justice ironicized with the word in quotes, and counterpoised to sport President of the Immortals – incongruent juxtaposition of a political term such as President of an Athenian council with a traditional term for the gods (Immortals) undermines the whole notion of deity and immortality

29 Closure Disturbing ending that deprives the reader of cathartic closure Catharsis – an Aristotelian notion that refers to the act of being purged of feelings of pity in response to a tragedy Indirect narration of Tesss execution denies us an outlet for deep emotional involvement, whilst preserving her dignity.

30 Ironic allusion to Miltons Paradise Lost As soon as they had strength they arose, joined hands again, and went on. [Closing sentence] In Miltons epic, at least, Adam & Eve have fallen but depart hand in hand holding a paradise within. Here, the real Eve (who is Tess) is dead and Adam joins hands with a lesser Eve (Liza Lu), and there is no paradise within for them. Angel & Liza Lu appear as half frozen, stylized artifacts rather than living beings Giottos Two Disciples

31 The closing para. that invokes the dead DUrberville knights and dames and ends with a biblical & Miltonic ref. to Angel and Liza Lu as Adam & Eve, conjoins: - pagan & Christian - political & religious - gaming & ethics - aristocratic and middle classes - the speechless living & muted dead Profusion of references resembles the layering of multiple forces that have sealed Tesss death. Profusion of references resembles the layering of multiple forces that have sealed Tesss death.

32 Critical Issues Does the inevitable tragic fate of Tess imply that Victorian women cannot really have agency? Or should Tesss struggle against existing social representations of women to recover her individuality matter more the outcome? Tesss death – part of Hardys artistic design to free her heroine from constructions put on her by society and by individuals?

33 Tesss strongest appeal is not as a virtuous victim – the good person trampled on by circumstances and fate. Tesss unique appeal is the beauty of her defeat. (Peter J. Casagrande)

34 Comparison with WL In contrast to Hardys delicate narrative strategy of indirection, Lawrences presentation of violence in relationships (physical, mental & verbal) possesses a certain raw brutality that is discomforting, direct & obscene, pulsating & urgent. WL as a war novel – even though its society is apparently at peace and its date left deliberately vague, violence wells up within most of its characters. Language of war in the battle of the sexes & the warring selves within

35 Violence is more deeply psychologized. Murderous impulse that perhaps lies in unconscious. Springs from an inner hollowness, lack of centre, dependency, rejection until the Other is perceived as a lethal threat E.g. Hermione & Birkin; Gerald & Gudrun Unlike Tesss violent behaviour, though speculated to be a trait inherited from the dUrbervilles, is mainly catalyzed by her external circumstances

36 … and without the slightest warning she passionately swung the glove by the gauntlet directly in his face. It was heavy and thick as a warriors, and it struck him flat on the mouth. Fancy might have regarded the act as the recrudescence of a trick in which her mailed progenitors were not unpractised … A scarlet oozing appeared where her blow had alighted. ( … and without the slightest warning she passionately swung the glove by the gauntlet directly in his face. It was heavy and thick as a warriors, and it struck him flat on the mouth. Fancy might have regarded the act as the recrudescence of a trick in which her mailed progenitors were not unpractised … A scarlet oozing appeared where her blow had alighted. (Tess, Phase VI, p.331) Her whole mind was a chaos, darkness breaking upon it, and herself struggling to gain control with her will, as a swimmer struggles with the swirling water. […] And then she realised that his presence was the wall, his presence was destroying her. Unless she could break out, she must die most fearfully, walled up in horror. And he was the wall. She must break down the wall. She must break him down before her, the awful obstruction of him who obstructed her life to the last. (WL, Ch.8, p ) Her whole mind was a chaos, darkness breaking upon it, and herself struggling to gain control with her will, as a swimmer struggles with the swirling water. […] And then she realised that his presence was the wall, his presence was destroying her. Unless she could break out, she must die most fearfully, walled up in horror. And he was the wall. She must break down the wall. She must break him down before her, the awful obstruction of him who obstructed her life to the last. (WL, Ch.8, p )

37 Lawrences prose techniques: Repetition – insistent, orgiastic build-up of violence within Hermione Incremental cumulative build-up of sensations through long sentences Undulating rhythm – intoxicating & incantatory, forceful & pulsating Rhapsodic, flushed with a strange, abstract intensity – contrived or radical?

38 From Hardy to Lawrence Lawrence said to move increasingly away from the idea of Literature as picture-making esp. during the yrs Increasingly turned from the visual to the tactile & aural senses, from the static quality of visual representation to the immediate & dynamic qualities of rhythm & touch Turned from pictures to music, an approach which seemed to have taken form during the writing of the Study of Thomas Hardy

39 Sexualization of violence in WL that is not obviously detailed in Tess E.g. In Coal-Dust, Gudrun transposes Geralds brutal taming of the Arab mare into a sexual experience, imagining herself to be the mare sensing the indomitable soft weight of the man. Gudrun subverts her imagined soft-blood subordination with sadomasochistic pleasure perversely derived. Terrible attraction and destructive danger of violence btwn M/F that is potentially inherent in the sexual act itself Yet, this violence may be creative and necessary in achieving a state of equilibrium btwn the sexes (ref. Birkins theory of male taming in Mino, symbolic sig. of Moony)

40 Violence in both novels display the possibilities of female subjugation and Violence in both novels display the possibilities of female subjugation and resistance. In Tess: Sexual violence in Alecs violation of Tess Tesss murder of Alec Tesss execution [passivity despite courageous struggle to determine her own fate by the single act of murder] In WL, violence and sex more graphically presented and Lawrence explores how excessive power given to women to determine their own self-sufficiency is (self)- destructive Woman Power – By what means? To what end?


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