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Lecture Notes on Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbevilles'

Biography

1840-1928 Poet and Novelist. Born in Dorset.
Father was a builder and a master mason. Affected Hardys later career.
Read heavily, particularly Dryden and Johnson.
School Days became acquainted with village life, starvation, cruelty, transportation, but also his love of nature and animals developed.
Lived a very solitary life.
1852-62 Apprenticed to John Hicks, local architect.
Became friends with William Barnes, poet, parson and intellectual.
Darwin became popular, Hardys faith was little affected.
1862-67 London, starts to write poetry, begins to question faith.
1869 The Poor Man and the Lady unpublished but praised by George Meredith.
1871 Desperate Remedies First published novel.
1874 Far from the Madding Crowd Huge success enables him to marry.
1878 The Return of the Native
1886 The Mayor of Castebridge
1891-94 The Wessex Tales Short stories.
1891 Tess of the DUrbevilles
1895 Jude the Obscure
:Last 30 years of his life was devoted to poetry.
Received the Order of Merit and various honorary degrees.
1914 Married for the second time
January 1928 Dies peacefully.


Hardy as a Novelist

Started writing novels for financial purposes.
Novel was the major art form of the era.
His strength is in his Provincialism, His weakness in his city analysis.
Not historical novels, but a sense of history is present.
Analysis of Peasant life in an unchanging World. Looking back to the past.
But the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent Religious ideas are also present.
Analysis of Characters in relation to things (weather, season, job), as opposed to their relationships with each-other.
Failure of plots is his let-down. Too melodramatic. Ace of Hearts and Stonehenge.
Doesnt take away anything from the fact that he is the GREAT TRAGIC NOVELIST.
Class-Consciousness came later in Jude the Obscure.
A Hardy hero is Hypersensitive, high-principled, soft-minded.


Overview of Tess of the DUrbevilles

Subtitled A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented.
Serially published The need for an exciting plot with evenly spaced events.
A rejection of the conventional heroine of Victorian fiction.
Provoked moral and religious criticism. The fallen woman was never exculpated in Victorian fiction.


Plot

1. Parson Tringham tells John Durbeyfield about ancestors.
2. Parents encourage Tess to seek kinship.
3. Horse dies, Tess feels guilty
4. Tess goes Alex seduces her Child Death of child.
5. Goes to Southern Wessex New life Talbothays farm
6. Meets Angel Clare love refuses marriage accepts
7. Wedding night confession Angel is horrified
8. Angel Brazil, Tess home, then Flintcomb Ash, terrible boss
9. Alec returns pursues Tess relentlessly, Tess gives in
10. Angel returns, traces Tess to Sandbourn
11. Tess sends Angel away its too late
12. Tess kills Alec escapes with Angel lives an idyllic life for a while
13. Arrested at Stonehenge hanged at Wintoncester gaol.

Alec represents the flesh, Angel the spirit. Same battle in Jude the Obscure.
Alec is the stereotypical Lady-killer.
What does Angel look-like? Who knows? Who cares?



Hardys World

Creation of Wessex, partly real, partly fictional.
Hardy is part Anthropologist and analyses Peasant life. His strenth as a novelist.
P.7,8 Hardys description of the Vale of Blackmoor, a place in Wessex. Described in Present Simple as if its part of a geography lesson. Sounds very idyllic. "The village of Marlott lay amid..."
p.9 Description of Country Girls. Very positive. Beauty is present, faults exist due to manners, not character. Happiness. "The young girls formed, indeed..."
p.29,30 Tess whole world is the Vale of Blackmoor. Hardy makes it very personal for her. Anything outside the Vale is foreign. Its a regional novel. "Tess Durbeyfield's route on this memorable morning..."
p.37 Good example of the Wessex dialogue in parents discussion. "Ah, I knew it, Jacky..."
p.53 "Every village has its own idiosyncracies." Trantridge people drink too much and never save money. It looks like a pretty hopeless future.
p.135 Defence of country life as its internal spiritual experiences which determine whether or not one leads a fulfilled life. "It was amazing, indeed..."
p.298 The difficulty of being an agricultural worker. "The crowds of agricultural labourers..."
p.309,310 The destruction of village life by the industrial revolution. "However, all the mutations..."


Critique of the New World

p.241 Angel and other farmers problems in Brazil. "Meanwhile, her husband's days..."


The Modernist Book

Use of metaphors and imagery.
Tallbothays in the summer represents love and happiness.
The later farm is in the winter, its more difficult, Tess is less happy.
p.108,9 Tess metaphorical analysis of Clares music. Personifying the trees and rivers. "Tess was conscious..."
p.244 Metaphor of hunted birds. "Directly the assuring..."
p.250,51 Rainy new farm, sunny summer of Talbothays. "They worked on hour after hour..."
p.336 The Ace of Hearts image of the blood on the ceiling.
Tess is caught during her days of immaturity like a bird in a springe, caught because she is part animal, but its tragic because she is more than that. "As she did so..."


The Character of Tess

p.10 Tess as a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience Tess dialect shows her to be a country girl. "Tess Durbeyfield at this time..."
p.68,69 Alec had completely mastered Tess, he has destroyed her. "You are not going to turn away..."
p.79 Relationship with child. Passion and Contempt. "When the infant had taken..."
p.92 Tess fighting spirit returns after the awful experience of the child. "There was, it might be said..."
p.196 Honest to tell Angel the truth. Embarrassed that he chose her instead of other girls. "This incident had turned..."
p.245 Changes appearance when returning to work to look like an unattractive maid. "She reached Chalknewton...."
p.332 Hates Alec but asks Angel never to come back. Completely accepted fate. "He is upstairs..."


Tess family

p.15 Tess mother positive description. Shes not historical or knightly, this is why shes got personal charms. "There still faintly beemed..."
p.17,18 Tess education creates a gap of two hundred years between her and her mother. "Tess being left alone..."
p.18 Six children in complete dependence on parents behaviour, whether good or bad. "All these young souls..."
p.22 Tess forces mother and father to leave the pub. She runs the family. "Even to her mother's gaze..."
p.42 Mr Durbeyfield offers to sell the family name. It really means nothing to him. "Tell'n I'll take a thousand pounds..."
p.72,73 Tess blames her mother for not warning her of the dangers of men-folk "Oh mother, my mother..."
p.226 Their reaction when Tess returns. They distrust her. "To think now..."

Character of Angel Clare

p.102 Angel rebels against his fathers orthodox views on religion. Refuses University. "It had never occurred..."
p.112 Angels reputation for disliking the idea of old family "Mr Clare, said the Dairyman..."
p.165,66 Hatred that blood determines things. Spirit should be the determining factor. "Well, it is true in one sense..."
p.124 Angels self-control despite being desired by all on the farm "Tess was woman enough..."
p.125 Preference of being outside to being inside a church. "Angel, in fact, rightly..."
p.138 His father is not particularly orthodox and is disliked by other clergymen. "Old Mr Claire was a clergyman..."
p.147 Angel feels respect for his father after telling them of his proposed marriage due to his fathers human side. "Now as always, Clare's father..."
p.169 Angel is more spiritual than animal. Excellent characterization. "She had not known that men..."
p.197 He admires spotlessness and cannot enter the church. "Well, I hope so..."
p.200 Unforgiving after Tess confesses her past. "Oh Tess, forgiveness does not apply..."
p.202 Emotional, crying as he decides about Tess. "You are very good..."
p.204 Connects Tess fall to the fall of her family. "So much the worse for you.."
p.211 Angels hidden firmness of character, stubbornness. Unaffected by Tess crying. "She broke into sobs..."
p.228 His philosophy begins to fail him, confronted by reality. "His conduct during these first weeks..."
p.232 His misunderstanding of Tess positive attributes due to blindness. "This night the woman of his..."


The Nature of Angel and Tess Love

Angel makes Tess into a Goddess Things are what we perceive them to be.
The rejection Is it double standards? He has built Tess up to something she is not.
Hardy is showing us that people are prone to idealise.
p.132 Love for Tess because she is not perfect. "Perfect, he as a lover..."
p.189 Tess tells Angel that he loves someone in her image, not her real self. "Oh my love, my love..."
p.200 You were one person, now you are another
p.207 The fire has burned out in both of them. "The pair were in truth..."


Peoples Characters are Determined by Nature

p.75 Tess personifies nature. She feels at one with its moods and emotions. "On these lonely hills..."


Hardys Philosophy

The hostile and Malign forces of nature affect Human Beings lives very negatively.
Philosophically pessimistic, but still sees the abiding characteristics of people, particularly peasants.
Life always destroys people who try to reach above their station in life. (Jude the Obscure)
p.25 Tess explains to Abraham that they live on a blighted star. Because of this, the family has troubles. "Did you say the stars were worlds..."
p.35,36 Hardys philosophy. The world treats people badly. It never allows the right people to come together at the right time in love. Nature is playing a game with people. "In the ill judged execution..."
p.65 Alec takes Tess to the forest. Repeated idea of wrong man and wrong woman, determined by natures cruel game. "Why it was that upon..."
p.129 Farm girls are completely resigned to the fact that cruel nature has made Angel Clare an impossible husband for them. "The air of the sleeping chamber..."
p.223 Gods not in his heaven: alls wrong with the world. "God's not in his heaven..."
p.236 Angels incensed against his fate and flees to Brazil. "Clare slowed the horse..."


Hardys Relgious Questioning

Naturally a Christian. Understood that the alternative to Christianity is a tragic life.
However, later could never give assent to Christianity..
p.82 Tess baby seen as a prisoner of the flesh Horror that it hasnt been baptized "The baby's offense..."
p.82 Imagery of Hell put into young Christians minds.
p.98 Its a curious story. It carries us back to the medieval times when faith was a living thing. "It's a curious story..."


Hardys Morality

p.181 "That never would become that wife, that had once done amiss."
p.188 Is Tess Angels wife or Alecs wife. Shes not sure. "By the time they reached home..."
p.270, 271 Tess criticism of Alex and the behaviour of men. "Don't go on with it..."

Once again, page numbers are from the Wordsworth Classic edition. I'll try and put up the first words of each important paragraph. We'll be looking at these extracts in the class anyway.

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