Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Freudian Analysis

“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; and with tall blooming weeds emitting offensive smells – weeds whose red and yellow and purple hues formed a polychrome as dazzling as that of cultivated flowers. 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 which, though snow-white on the apple-tree trunks, made madder stains on her skin…” Chapter 19

  1. The sensual language: all those susurrating Ss which force the teeth together, contrasted with the fricative THs which manipulate the tongue to the front of the mouth. CKs – like the cracking of something.
  2. Look at the imagery of nature – the flowers and weeds are “dazzling” in their colours. Even though they are wild, they are beautiful.
  3. Note that this is an area of the garden where the plants are overgrown and nature is very much in charge – how coincidental that Tess should be so at ease here.
  4. Tess herself is described in animalistic terms, showing that she BELONGS to a natural setting such as this.
  5. The symbolism of her white skin becoming “stained”.
  6. The garden is packed with references to fertility and sex – highlighting Tess’s sexual maturity and recovery.
  7. The passage is a Freudian nightmare – sex everywhere!