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Tess of the D’Urbervilles

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1 Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Lecture 2 – Paper 5 Overview of Narrative Techniques

2 Recap – Lecture 1 Conflict btwn her moral ideals & the double standard in patriarchal Victorian sexual ideology Victim of her own passivity – her internalization of the sexual moral codes in society (?) Tess Woman as Victim Victim of her high moral standards – her pride Victim of her own physical charms Victim of her innate innocence – purity a natural disposition

3 Complexity of Tess’s victimization – is the source of the tragedy within and/or outside of her?
A tragedy solely due to gender? What about family & social class? Role of Fate & Chance?

4 The force of the novel stems from the narrative methods used by Hardy to convey an intense sympathy for Tess “Nothing is more remarkable in the novel than the extraordinary passion with which Tess is described and justified.” (Biographer, Michael Millgate – 1971)

5 1. Setting Wessex – a “partly real, partly dream country” (Preface to 1895 edition of Far From A Madding Crowd) Up until the last quarter of the 19th C., ‘Wessex’ was purely a historical term defining the south-western region of the island of Britain that had been ruled by the West Saxons in the early Middle Ages

6 With Hardy’s appropriation of ‘Wessex’ in his literary creation, the term has come to mean a tradition bound region that is rural and pre-industrial, well steeped in superstition, folk-lore & folk customs. Hardy’s Wessex centred in his native county of Dorset (South Wessex)

7 Visual effect of Hardy’s descriptive language
Careful handling of scenery & season, so that time & place reinforce mood Use of dialect that adds a degree of authenticity in characterizing class diff. Novel marked by a degree of verisimilitude Giving the appearance of truth / reality

8 TUB characterized by the emphasis of movement and the landscape changes with the changes in the phases of Tess’s history Careful handling of scenery & season, so that time & place reinforce mood E.g. Contrast btwn the lush landscape of the Valley of the Great Diaries & the drabness of Flintcomb Ash  parallels Tess’s wintry loss of sensuality and love

9 Natural setting is used symbolically and bears an integral relationship to the physical & psychological state of Tess “a daughter of the soil”; “a figure which is part of the landscape, a fieldswoman pure and simple, in winter guise.” Tess as a symbol of agricultural purity stained by industrialized society – conflict btwn the two worlds of country & city

10 Concept of Nature as the presence that remains unaffected by, indifferent to human suffering.
Sometimes, Nature exercises an active influence on the course of events. “like a fly on a billiard table of indefinite length” (Chap 16, p.105) – Tess as defenceless & vulnerable

11 2. Use of Coincidence / Chance events
As the external expression of Fate which is omnipotent & indifferent Chance – a subordinate agency of Fate; something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause

12 Inevitability of suffering Too far-fetched? Excessive?
Cumulative effects of chance / coincidence that thwart Tess’s well-intentioned actions E.g. Tess’s wish to confess to Angel Clare before marrying him is frustrated by chance which has her confessional letter slipped under the carpet, so that Angel never sees it. Inevitability of suffering Too far-fetched? Excessive? First coincidence – Tess sleeps while driving the cart and the morning mail-cart kills her horse Prince

13 3. Irony a) Cosmic irony Cosmic irony or the irony of fate exists when God, or destiny, or the universal process, is represented as though deliberately manipulating events to frustrate and mock the protagonist – M.H. Abrams Ironic references to Christianity, God or gods

14 “But where was Tess’s guardian angel. where was Providence
“But where was Tess’s guardian angel? where was Providence? Perhaps, like that other god of whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or peradventure he was sleeping and was not to be awaked.” (Chap 11, p.74)

15 b) Irony of circumstance
Two features: when a person desires one thing & the outcome is opposite, and when a person marries, he usually makes a wrong marriage E.g. The d’Urbervilles residing at The Slopes are not the true d’Urbervilles and instead of receiving help, Tess ironically loses her virginity because of her innocence.

16 4. Omens & Foreshadowing Images connected with omens of misfortune
Death of Prince, the horse and Tess seeing herself as a murderess Tess pricked by a thorn from the roses that Alec d’Urberville gives her on her first visit to his house Crowing of the cock on her wedding day signifies either a bride’s unchaste nature or just ill-luck Builds up a pessimistic atmosphere of fatality and impending misfortune

17 5. Imagery & Symbolism Natural imagery – earth, flowers, agriculture
Animal imagery Colour (esp. red) Clothing, dressing up Symbolic use of setting – sun, mist / fog, light vs. dark, seasons Naming

18 6. Point-of-view: Voice & Perspective
Third-person omniscient narrator Events ‘seen’ through the eyes of different characters (i.e. multiple perspectives) Intrusive voice of the author Narrative relayed indirectly by secondary / minor char. (e.g. in Chap 56 – Mrs Brooks finds Alec’s body)

19 “Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around
“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; and around them the hopping rabbits and hares. But where was Tess’s guardian angel? where was Providence?” (Chap 11, p.74)

20 Critical evaluation How do we as readers respond to this strength of feeling? – involved & moving or too heavily insistent, even contrived? Does this undercurrent of emotion conveyed by a significantly male voice complicate or perhaps even compromise Hardy’s social criticism of women’s issues?

21 Forcefulness of sympathy for Tess’s plight is double-edged.
At one level, such forcefulness exposes the hypocrisy of Victorian sexual norms and its cruel injustice inflicted on women (in his time). Yet, at another level, some feminist critics have suggested that Hardy, in his fascination with Tess, is creating an ideal subjected to the voyeuristic male gaze.

22 Contradictory positioning of Hardy as a writer in presenting women and their experiences
Hardy still sees Tess’s self-effacing character (her meekness & patience) as good and admirable, which paradoxically endorses a moral pattern of womanhood which the novel demonstrates is damaging and repressive

23 Hardy was sympathetic to women’s dilemmas and demands, but this sympathy was still embedded in a culture which was still essentially patriarchal Fictional stereotypes of women (as natural, instinctive) remodelled, but not transformed Is this contradiction also found in Lawrence’s WL?

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