Short Stories of Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Describing Unrealistic Ideal Love
Examine the View Hardy Presents Angel Clare’s Love for Tess as Idealistic Rather Than Realistic in this Extract
Arguably, Hardy presents Angel Clare’s love for Tess as an unrealistic, ideal love rather than a realistic love through his use of description to describe Tess. Hardy uses the word “phosphorescence” which gives the implication that she has an unnatural glow in his eyes which could suggest that he sees her in an unnatural and almost perfect way as glow has connotations of fantasy and idealised perfection as though he sees Tess as angelic and untouchable. Hardy’s overdramatic and unrealistic description of Tess links also to the successful use of pathetic fallacy as Hardy describes the ‘open mead’ as having a ‘spectral, aqueous light’ which connotes to the idea of bright colour and happiness and the word ‘aqueous’ connotes to the idea that the light is an unnatural colour and adds to the mythical and fantasy feel of the extract.
Hardy uses hyperbolic and romantic imagery to overdramatise and create an idealistic view of Angel Clare’s love for Tess. Hardy describes the ‘dawn’ as ‘violet and pink’ which are warm colours connoting to the idea of his love for her warms him and warms his heart and that he feels comforted and warm when he is around her. An interpretation of the use of the word ‘dawn’ could also suggest a sense of a new beginning and that his love is starting to grow and develop into something perfect and unrealistic. Another interpretation could be that the ‘dawn’ implies sunrise and that she lights his way and is his source of brightness giving a sense of idealised love as it suggests she is almost too perfect in his eyes to be considered as realistic.
Hardy uses biblical references in the extract which could suggest a strong sense of admiration and true love towards Tess as many people viewed love and religion as being very closely linked. Hardy refers to “Adam and Eve” which could suggest that he sees their love as connoting to a pre-lapsarian innocence and love which would relate to the idea of their love being idealistic rather than realistic. Another link to Gods or biblical references is when Hardy refers to “Artemis” and “Demeter” which are Greek Gods therefore connoting to the idea of mythology and fantasy and that she is untouchable and cannot be tainted which is an idealised view of how Angel Clare may see her. Hardy also references the “Resurrection hour” and “Magdalen” which connotes to the idea of miracles and some critics could say that miracles are unrealistic and an idealised fantasy that people choose to believe in.
Another example of how Hardy creates a sense of idealised love is that Tess says to Angel Clare “call me Tess” which could be an implication that his love is too dramatic and too perfect and that it scares her because the hyperbolic God-like names and the mythological, idealised love he feels towards her makes her feel scared and uncomfortable. Another interpretation is that she may be worried that she would not live up to his high expectations that he has of her and so she tries to bring him back down to reality.
While many critics could say that Hardy presents an idealised love for Tess, some could say that he sees her in a realistic way because Hardy writes from Angel Clare’s perspective and describes “fair women” do not work hard and that Tess is “close at hand” and does not “rest”. The word “fair” connotes to the idea of the traditional perfect woman and most literature uses the word “fair” to describe a woman who is pure and perfect; however, Tess is not addressed in this way and so could suggest that his view is not that of an idealised love but of a realistic and respectful love for him.
In conclusion, Hardy successfully creates a sense of idealised love for Tess through his dramatic and hyperbolic feelings of attraction and potential admiration towards her.
Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Gothic Elements Analysis
Gothic Elements in Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Tess of the d’Urbervilles, is a novel written by Thomas Hardy. It highly relates to the trials of young girl that is trying to help her struggling family, and escape her past, all that with trying to find a husband for herself. Tess of the d’Urbervilles takes place in the countryside of England, and the entire novel is consisted of descriptions of scenes that are highly praised in Gothic novels. Since this is a novel of Victorian period, and not of the Romantic period where Gothic novels came from, Tess of the d’Urbervilles can not for sure be taken as a Gothic novel with all its descriptions and its own scenes and situations happening.
First of all, Hardy is known as a realist, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a novel of pastoral tragedy, even though some major and obvious themes are related to a Gothic novel. The first gothic element can be taken to probably be the past of Tess Durbeyfield, and it is spread all throughout the novel. Tess Durbeyfield cannot forget her dreadful past and is always looking backwards on it, nor she can escape it all. She can ignore her past at one point, but cannot really escape it, her past is like “the angry wolf”, that is always on her back chasing her around. Not only her memories are the ones that can be a cause of her trouble and struggle with herself, also she is unable to distance herself from the man that wants her for his wife: Alec d’Urberville, who is very persistent to whom she later had to succumb to. Unlike any of the heroines of the Gothic novels, Tess is not a girl that is really physically trapped in her life but quite the opposite, she is trapped by Alec upon her own cleanliness; her chastity.
One more of the Gothic themes is the actual writing of the novel, with its detailed descriptions. like, where Hardy describes The Chase on the night when Tess is raped by Alec. That silence and darkness is what really makes a great deal of portraying one side of the Gothic elements in the novel, it is all very evil and very supernatural, since the entire scene is all itself very malicious. Since there is this name of the forest “The Chase”, it can represent Tess’s feelings toward her past but also her situation of the rape. Similarly an issue of the passionate love and the actual danger of love is very much common in Gothic novels, as seen in Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, which is also a case in this novel too. There is a feeling of lost love all throughout the novel because Tess is actually in love with Angel. This feeling of no remorse and no passion in the end of the novel when Alec d’Urbervilles is killed is very much the story of horror. Not feeling anything for another human being as Tess did at the moment, is very much frightening: no matter what kind of person he was.
Even though, Tess of the d’Urbervilles is not actually a Gothic novel it has all kinds of Gothic themes in it, where Tess is trapped in her mind other than being physically cornered Hardy’s writing is very much menacing and really ominous, and this can really be suggested as a novel of Gothic elements in it even though it is a novel of Victorian era and the time of realist movement, as Hardy was.
Death and Isolation Thomas Hardy’s Poem the Five Students
Poem, The Five Students
In the poem, “The Five Students,” Thomas Hardy uses his experience to examine his life and that of his four friends. He does not refer to the friends by their names but uses their skin complexions to describe them. The five are in pursuit of their goals, but Hardy portrays all to have failed at last. The poet combines elements such as alliteration, repetition, patterns, imagery and unclear ending to support his central ideas of isolation, death, and failure of five students that did not succeed in realizing their goals as discussed below.
The poem’s central idea touches on the death and isolation of five characters that failed to achieve their life goals. The five do not face their end at the same but exit the stage at different times. Hardy portrays the life of these five as a journey and their end is a sign of changes in seasons. Based on the poem’s title, one can detect isolation as the characters get isolated soon after the beginning of their journey when one character, ‘dark He’ is isolated from the group. Hardy ends the second stanza by asserting that only four of them are left in the group “but one elsewhere” (12). Based on the title of the poem, the audience can intend to investigate what happens to the five students and as a result, discover the themes of isolation and failure. As noted above, the poet uses various poetic elements to explore the poem’s central idea. The combination of these elements tells the beginning and the end of the life journey of the five students. Hardy manages to skillfully combine these elements to leave no doubt about the intention of the poem.
The first significant pattern in this poem can be seen in the point of view. Based on the author’s reference to ‘I,’ one can see that the poem is narrated from the first person point of view. In this case, the writer is the narrator of the poem. As such, the audience expects that the author sees all the experiences for the story to be complete. This expectation makes the story incomplete in the eyes of the audience since the narrator does not witness all the experiences in the story.
Choice of Words and Phrases
The poet uses alliteration and assonance as sound patterns in his work. For instance, the first and the second line in the first stanza repeats the ‘s’ sound as an indication of alliteration. The fifth line in the first stanza has a repetition of vowels to build assonance. The phrases, ‘fair she,’ ‘dark she,’ and ‘fair he’ build assonance in the poem. This repetition is useful in describing the characters in the poem especially after each is isolated from the group.
The poem uses repetition to show the frequency of events that occur as the five students embark on their life journey. The repetition of ‘he’ and ‘she’ aims at showing the students left as the journey progresses. Also, the repetition of ‘we’ shows the changes in events during the journey. In the first stanza, Hardy says; “we stride” (4). In the second stanza, he says; “we are on our urgent way” (11). The repetition, in this case, shows the changes in events.
Hardy employs imagery of landscapes to show how time and seasons pass as the students go on with their life journey. For instance, in the second stanza, Hardy writes that “the greens are sobered” (9). This line shows the image of a landscape where the green vegetation appears dull to show that the day is sunny and as such, depicts changes in time. In the fourth stanza, Hardy refers to the falling of leaves and the way they are eaten by earthworms to show how time changes from green vegetation to dry leaves. Just like the landscape changes, so do the students in the journey and the falling of leaves portray the death of sojourners.
The poet creates heavy pauses in the poem to depict something unpleasant has happened in the course of the journey. As the journey progresses, one member disappears from the stage. Hardy ‘eliminates’ one student in each stanza until two of them are left, himself and ‘fair She.’ Hardy uses dashes and ellipses to portray pauses. For instance, in the second stanza, Hardy writes; “we are on our urgent way_” (10). The dash portrays a long pause before Hardy announces that one member is isolated from them and only four have remained. In the last stanza, the ellipses in line five show a long pause before Hardy announces that all members have left except the narrator.
Hardy uses unusual syntax when he says, “fallen one more” (Hardy 18). He also uses ‘heretofore’ as syntax in the poem. This move shows Hardy’s understanding of poetic language where he feels at liberty to use unusual syntax.
The unclear ending of the poem communicates the themes of isolation and failure as the main ideas of the poem. The audience cannot tell what happened to Hardy after he observed the last event of the journey. With this unclear ending, both Hardy and the audience are isolated from the events at the end of the journey.
Hardy employs various poetic tools to emphasize the poem’s central ideas of isolation, death, lapse of time and loss. These tools form a pattern that builds the poem to communicate its meaning to the audience. The poem is narrated from the first person point of view and employs imagery, repetition and heavy pauses, unusual syntax and unclear ending to build its themes.
To what extent is feminist criticism helpful in opening up potential meanings in Thomas Hardy’s “The Withered Arm”?
The short story, “The Withered Arm” explores the role of women in society, their submission to men as well as their independence while at all times retaining an understanding of their struggles. The author, Thomas Hardy reflects on the view of women in the late 19th Century sympathetically, through the use of language, structure and contrast and the exploration of a patriarchal society. Most would argue that Rhoda Brook’s life can be seen as an example of patriarchal oppression, reflected further in Gertrude’s submission to her husband and acceptance of being a trophy wife and the dominant idea restated by her that “Men think so much of personal appearance”. Although completely rejected by society, it is Rhoda, the “thin, fading woman” that prevails in society and lives through the hardships, by not conforming to the rules of society. Thomas Hardy would have been able to experience the greatest political era for women which included the suffragette movement and thus his upbringing and political awareness of the issues of the time enabled him to write a short story which conveys his view that the women that were able to survive the brutality of the 19th Century, without relying on the power of men, should be those acclaimed, as seen by the sole survival of Rhoda.
To a modern feminist critical reader the emphasis on Rhoda’s status and her apparent representation as “other”, “lack” and “nature” is explicit in Hardy’s telling of the story. It is emphasized throughout the story that Rhoda is on the “other side” of society, leaving her “lonely,” and rejected even by those women who are of the same status as her, and who should be sympathetic to her cause – instead they separate themselves from the shamed women to the “other side of the barton”, emphasizing the “distance” in their separation. The “mud” cottage further represents her erosion, with none of its “original flat face visible”, Rhoda’s beauty is no longer visible there, and instead it has been worn away throughout the ages leaving only a “bone protruding through the skin”. The motif of bones, hands and arms can also be seen throughout the novel, helping to contrast Rhoda and Gertrude’s character from a Marxist, feminist point of view as Gertrude’s hands are not those that “look as though she had ever done housework or are milker’s hands” due to Rhoda taking up the men’s role in society, by both being an only parent to her son and bearing the only income for her household, this hence means that her social status is lower than that of Gertrude’s.
It may be explored that Thomas Hardy offers “The Withered Arm” as condemnation of women who conformed to the patriarchal society, instead of fighting against it. It can be seen that Rhoda is punished for her brief history with Farmer Lodge with the rejection by society, her low social class and loss of the beauty, that which made her desirable in the first place – these together caused her a multitude of suffering. Likewise, Gertrude suffers the same fate, her submission and acceptance of the patriarchal society eventually led to her death. Hence it can be seen that Thomas Hardy’s intention is to reflect his criticism of the patriarchal society and its negative effect on women.
It can be argued that there is a prevalent theme of physiognomy reflected through the attitudes towards woman. It is common feminist understanding that women were considered as objects of pleasure due to the “relationship between sex and power in which the distribution of power over the male and female partners mirrored the distribution of power over males and females in society”. Due to this, women were aware of their position in society and they often succumbed to this idea, hence explaining why the “thing, fading woman” was a “lorn milkmaid” in contrast to the “lady complete”. The author himself seems to subconsciously sink into this trap, as the character of the “withered” Rhoda is presented as “sharp”, “bitter” and anxious while Gertrude is “comely”, “lovely” and “tender”, thus, when adapting such a view on women it is no surprise that when Gertrude loses the use of her arm she becomes an “incubus”, practicing selfish “cruelty”. Gertrude’s association with conjurers is further proof how far she had “turned”, as in the 19th century, the associations with magic and witch craft were seen as a sin against God and a practice intended to usurp God’s role. Hence it can be seen that through a feminist exploration of the text, it may be argued that Thomas Hardy does not fully take an objective view when exploring women but instead a current one.
When looking for meaning, meaning can be found in the names of characters, and when explored by a feminist critic it could develop the image of a character. The meaning of the name Gertrude is “strong spear” which implies, that Gertrude is an accessory to men as spears must be wielded by men. Spears, like women in the 19th century, strengthened the station of men – through their appearance, as emphasized by Farmer Lodge’s need to exhibit the “pretty Gertrude” who should “expect to be started at”, but her character is no longer a “strong” one when she loses her beauty, and being of no value to the Farmer, Gertrude was left to “stay at home” – hidden away from sight like the “madwoman in the attic”. Instead of accepting this fate of a housewife, Gertrude repeats with remorse “Six years of marriage, and only a few month of love”, and hence she is destroyed and buried by (in) patriarchal definitions of sexuality; which she has lost. The idea that she only a few months of love, emphasizes that in a patriarchal society, men only love all that is beautiful and presented as good, in contrast to the “irritable, superstitious woman” that has become of Gertrude. Rhoda’s name creates a harsh sound, much like her character and the hardships she has lived through. Her main attribute is her independence, possibly due to her circumstances forcing her into the position, but nonetheless she shows a clear refusal to depend on males in the patriarchal society by “refusing…the provision made for her” after Farmer Lodge’s death. It could be argued that Thomas Hardy took his inspiration for her tough character from the two possible meanings associated with “Rhoda”. Rhoda could either link to a Rose – more precisely a wilted and “withered” rose, after being “seduced” by the Farmer, or with the Island or “Rhodes” which is famous for its independence. Moreover the character of Rhoda is also seen in the New Testament with a maid, servant character, also submissive to male characters. Hence it can be seen that the author, Thomas Hardy draws upon ideas for his characters to form clear view on them, and helps build up a feminist approach to women.
Consequently, Thomas Hardy seems to condemn the patriarchal society in which these women are found, and more so the submission to patriarchal society, hence criticizing women for not rising up against the males. It can be seen that to some extent, Rhoda rose up against Farmer Lorde, to a much higher extent than Gertrude – which is proven by her survival, while Gertrude’s subservient submission to the patriarchal society is fatal.
Symbolic structures of the fairy tale: A Comparison of ‘The Necklace’ and ‘The Son’s Veto’
Through the consistent allusion to fairy tales throughout both The Necklace and The Son’s Veto, de Maupassant and Hardy are able to present the vulnerability and suffering of the characters in an instantly recognisable template, portraying the brutality (and in Hardy’s view absurdity) of class and status in succinct, powerful stories. The subversion of these fairy tale plotlines also brings home both authors’ realism: the lack of a “happy ending” only serves to make more emphatic the misfortune and victimization of the characters.
The Necklace has constant parallels to the tale of Cinderella throughout, but in many ways is cleverly subverted to make the story into a tragic tale with a comic twist. The most obvious similarity is lost lost necklace, which is an allusion to the glass slipper in Cinderella. Importantly however, whilst the glass slipper is unique and destined only for Cinderella herself, the necklace is fake and therefore representative of the inherently materialistic nature of modern society. The background of the characters is another form of symmetry within the two stories – they are both poor and lead imperfect love or family lives (Madame Loisel is seen only to “go along with a proposal made by a junior clerk”, showing her less than ideal circumstances for marriage), but again this is cleverly subverted by the fact that Madame Loisel is greedy and covetous. There is, on the other hand, one major difference between The Necklace and Cinderella in that the former lacks the presence of a malicious figure. Arguably it is this greed which takes the form of evil in the story, and ultimately results in her downfall. The Son’s Veto can be compared to the relatively modern German fairy tale of Rapunzel. Hardy alludes to the fact that Sophy has been trapped (or to some extent imprisoned by her own son) in her suburban dwelling. Hardy ironically uses the word “villa” (which would normally refer to a country house) to emphasize how her current situation is far from how she would wish it to be. This is furthered by the description of the “fragment of lawn” showing her lack of space and freedom, and well as introducing connotations of the broken or shattered. Most important however is the fact that Sophy is seen to look “through the railings” at her surroundings, giving a sense of her claustrophobia and imprisonment. Hardy is presenting us with the parallel between the the princess stuck in a tall tower and an invalid woman trapped in a life she doesn’t want to be living in. In this way Samuel Hobson can be seen as a ‘knight in shining armour’ figure as he seeks her out and takes her around London on his cart early in the mornings.
Both these women are very obviously victims of class and how prevalent status is in society. Randolph, Sophy’s son, is shown to be almost obsessed by society’s view on him, and to believe that he belongs to a different class to his mother, and is even embarrassed by her. Hardy states this very plainly: he says that in Randolph’s eyes she was “a mother whose mistakes and origin it was his painful lot as a gentleman to blush for.” Thus he is shown to keep his mother out of the way and prevents her from marrying like just as the witch does in the story of Rapunzel. However, whilst the witch imprisons Rapunzel in trying to protect her from the real world, Randolph hides his mother in order to shield his version of the real world (in order words his small circle of aristocratic acquaintances) from his mother. The use of the fairy-tale narrative is particularly effective in this context, as Hardy twists the plot to show that Sophy was not able to marry Hobson as she would have liked to (in opposition to the ‘happily ever after’ style ending of Rapunzel); her son remains stubborn, and her suffering at the hands of society and status continues, eventually resulting in an extremely bleak conclusion: the description of her funeral procession. The Necklace shows a similar kind of victim – she has “no jewellery, nothing” and can hardly even afford clothes to attend the event. In the end it was her financial state of affairs which led her to great suffering. Their lifestyle is described as the “grindingly horrible life of the very poor,” she is “frequently abused” and she “scrubbed floors on her hands and knees.” The fairy-tale inversion is present again, as the parallel can be drawn between the loss of the necklace and the loss of the glass slipper. However, whilst the slipper is returned to Cinderella and she experiences the same sort of happy ending as with Rapunzel, no such thing happens to Madame Loisel and her husband. We are again given a sense of the brutal realism of de Maupassant’s writing and poignantly shown how someone can suffer at the hands of their monetary situation and their position in society.
Hardy and de Maupassant do, however, disagree on whether the suffering experienced by their characters is deserved. That is, whether the fact that they go through great loss because of social expectations and lack of status is acceptable. Hardy makes very clear his disgust for the situation in The Son’s Veto, mostly by portraying Sophy as a helpless but kind character, and striving to create pathos for her. This begins with the description of her as an “invalid,” showing that she has experienced past suffering (whilst also making her powerless to change her situation later on) and our sympathy for her is heightened at the death of her first husband, an event described in a typically Hardy-like manner. “The next time we get a glimpse of her,” he says, “is when he appears in the mournful attire of a widow.” Blunt, plain and pessimistic, Hardy’s style serves to show the unavoidable pain which life entails. However, we hold her in a high regard mainly because of the way her boy treats her, and the fact that she always loves him nevertheless. His unbearable snobbery contrasts starkly with her meekness and kindness. At the prospect of her marriage to Samuel Hobson, he does not even pause to think about the happiness it would bring his mother, but instead “bursts into passionate tears” and exclaims “ ‘It will degrade me in the eyes of all the gentlemen of England’”. Here Hardy directly shows that Sophy is being kept from happiness by a shallow-minded and selfish son on account of the ridiculous classist nature of English society. Indeed, in many ways the son himself represents the British class system in all its absurdity, leading Sophy to her eventual death. This is another context in which the fairy-tale template which Hardy employs is extremely useful – because of the fame of the tale of Rapunzel, it is easy to put in place easily recognizable forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in the story. Bearing similarities to the evil witch, the son, and therefore the system of society, can be instantly seen as a force of ‘evil’, therefore showing Hardy’s disgust. Right at the end of the story, there is one more ironic twist which again shows the ridiculousness of it – Samuel Hobson is portrayed as a respectable gentleman in a “neat suit of black”, and to own “the largest fruiterer’s shop in Aldbrickham”. This image of success is Hardy’s final display of the shallowness of ‘status’.
On the other hand, Guy de Maupassant presents the reader with a much more polluted view of whether Madame Loisel is to blame for her downfall. We see a fundamental contradiction in the writing about whether a woman can rise through society – firstly, de Maupassant states that she had “no means of meeting some rich, important man”, but “a girl of no birth to speak of may easily be the equal of any society lady” directly disagrees with it. As well as this contradiction, we are unsure of whether de Maupassant thinks Madame Loisel’s downfall was down to her flaws of character. On the one hand, upon losing the necklace, she is devastated and will do anything to get it back to Madame Forestier, showing her honesty of character, and we are truly impressed when the pair manage to pay off all their debt. However, she is seen to be arrogant, and envious. As a character she shows contradictions in her thinking, for example de Maupassant describes her dreams of “two tall footmen asleep in the huge armchairs”, the fact that they are sleeping showing that they are not performing their task and are simply for show; “trinkets beyond price” also shows this muddled thinking, as trinkets by definition are worth very little, and she describes her ideal “closest friends” as being the most “famous and sought-after” men, showing that she would value being seen with important people over having genuinely close companions. There are more obvious references to her unpleasant characteristics peppering the piece – “she felt that God had made her for such things” (referring to fine dresses and jewelry) is one such example. In this way, therefore, I believe it is de Maupassant’s intention to make the reader have little sympathy for Madame Loisel, particularly as the ironic twist ending with the “imitation necklace” gives a comic effect, as if he almost wants the reader to laugh at her suffering.
It is interesting to see how two writers could have used exactly the same template for seemingly similar short stories, and come up with such a different tone. Whilst Hardy’s The Son’s Veto is inherently tragic, The Necklace has much more of a twisted comic feel. Perhaps this is due to Hardy’s background – he was not wealthy, and was home educated. However, whether deserved or not, both stories powerfully present the brutality of class and status in a 19th century society.