Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Quotation Analyses

“I won’t sell his old body. When we d’Urbervilles was knights in the land, we didn’t sell our chargers for cat’s meat. Let ’em keep their shillings! He’ve served me well in his lifetime, and I won’t part from him now.” Chapter 4

This shows John Durbeyfield’s misplaced sense of his importance after Parson Tringham’s revelation. His family needs the money from Prince’s sale, but he has become too proud to part with the animal’s carcass.

“it was not the two halves of a perfect whole that confronted each other at the perfect moment” Chapter 5

By repeating the adjective “perfect”, Hardy reinforces that Tess and Alec’s meeting was in no way perfect; it was flawed. They were neither the right couple, nor did they meet at the right time.

“Thus, the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting’s import she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects, . . .” Chapter 5

The first short sentence implies an unpleasant beginning to something terrible for Tess. The idea is continued when Hardy describes the meeting as “doomed”, as though Tess could not avoid it, and that she was meant to suffer as a result of it.

“Out of the frying pan into the fire!” Chapter 10

Hardy makes use of the common metaphor to illustrate that Tess is moving from one bad situation to another, and her sense of being rescued is entirely illusory.

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