Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Task 9

  1. Hardy employs intense symbolism here, comparing Tess to an animal, but also reinforcing the way she is “stained” by the natural world. Her purity is sullied. However, unlike the rape scene, this is a positive scene for Tess as she accepts this staining as part of nature. The vocabulary throughout is loaded with sexual connotations.
  1. The listed verbs are all indicators of how little Tess thinks of herself, but how superior she feels Angel is: “know”, “read”, “see”, “think”: these all suggest his greater experience of the world, but despite this, he is still very childish in his emotions, unlike Tess who has matured.
  1. Carrying the other maids is considered a “labour” by Angel; he has orchestrated the meeting with Tess. While this may be seen as romantic, can it not also be seen as predatory by Angel? Tess is isolated and cannot turn him away.
  1. Hardy stresses that Tess is not perfect, and this is what makes her beauty real – not “ethereal”, spiritual. Hardy goes to great lengths to persuade the reader that Tess is not an archetype, a stereotypical depiction of a woman – she is a real woman with faults and flaws, but she is all the more beautiful for this.