Short Stories of Thomas Hardy
The Critical Role of Paganism in ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’
Upon reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, one may notice that references to pagan goddesses and ancient religions of the past are strewn throughout the book. These allusions range from the affectionate names of endearment by which Angel Clare refers to Tess, such as “Artemis” and “Demeter,” to the climax leading to the end of Tess’s wretched life at Stonehenge. The motif’s frequency suggests that it carries more meaning than meets the eye, and that paganism is not present in the novel simply as a means to carry forward the plot. It is very easy for the reader to spot the link between Tess and the goddesses of antiquity. What is Hardy trying to prove to the reader by associating Tess with divinities from a bygone time? Ultimately, the entire novel carries across a potent message about the identity of Tess herself.
Before considering the relation of paganism to the story, it is important to consider certain elements of this motif. Ancient religions saw the female figure as highly significant in society because it carried with it the association of fecundity and prosperity. The ability of the female to give birth was celebrated and regarded with respect in ancient times. There are multiple theories as to why women started to be seen through a different perspective. According to Kass, man might have grown envious on the female’s ability to give life while society insists that he brings death about at war, and therefore ended up restricting the female lifestyle to that of a domesticated housewife. Others described the female body as a source of sin and temptation, as imperfect and so it needs to be kept out of public life. During the Victorian era, when Hardy was writing, the gap between men and women was especially wide. Women were expected to drape their whole bodies with wide dresses and skirts to distort the shape. Girls were left mostly uneducated since schooling was discouraged and they didn’t learn much except for some basic grammar and arithmetic, sewing, cooking and other ‘useful’ skills. Their future would be based on either marrying and finding a fortune that way while also raising a family, or become a governess to earn your own money if you belong to a middle class family. Women from the lower classes had less chances of rising up the social ladder. Should they fall to temptation or worse still lose their virginity to a rapist, they will be deemed as fallen, failed women in the eyes of the society – even if it is perhaps not their fault.
Hardy portrays his protagonist Tess as one such woman. Her best bet in life was to work in the fields or as a milk maid. Alec’s act of violation upon Tess leads her to be shunned by everyone around her, even by the man who supposedly loves her. Therefore, why is Tess compared to a goddess, when these divine entities are associated with power and respect, two things the poor girl completely lacks in the novel? The reasons for these depend upon the reader’s interpretations. Hardy may be trying to emphasise Tess’s innocence and therefore going against the conventions of his time. By establishing Tess as a goddess he is assimilating her with spirituality and purity, and thus justifying the subtitle of the novel being ‘A Pure Woman’. This must have caused a stir during the Victorian era as it degraded everything they thought is right and moral. However, Hardy was simply asserting the rights of women in society. Each time Angel Clare refused her apologies and every excerpt stating how Alec D’Urberville never was punished for his actions is a piercing cry of satire straight from the author to the reader’s heart. Alec’s status as subordinate to Tess in terms of spirituality,and innocence is shown through his occupation as a priest, while she maintains her prestigious place as a goddess. Angel Clare’s coming from a highly religious family also suggests that like Alec, he is worshipping Tess from down below, unable to reach her level of goodness. This again heightens Tess’s innocence in spite of having her virginity robbed away from her, something condemnable during her time.
The reader witnesses the sacrificing of Tess in a process very similar to that of Christ. She escapes to Stonehenge, where she performs kenosis on her pure, spiritual form and allows herself to appear to her tormenters in all her humanity, much like Jesus Christ let the Jews arrest him without resistance. Such an episode is probably meant to raise pity in the reader, who feels sorry that Artemis, the goddess of hunting is now the hunted one. Thomas Hardy sacrifices Tess with the hopes that her fictional death will save the lives of many real, tormented women who are suffering because of actions they didn’t commit. The rejection of her status as a pagan goddess who stems from Ancient Greece and Rome – the elite civilisations – may also be a signification of the community’s letting go of civil behavior and return to barbarism by condemning the girl to death. There is one may say the performance of kenosis on humanity, both from the side of Tess as well as that of the community. Since Tess is the bearer of humanity and civilization in a barbaric world, her death leads to cutting ties with civilization, involving language itself, and thus ending the narrative as a whole. In a way, the entire novel is an allegory to the life of Christ. There is the celebration of the harvesting and Tess as the goddess with her child, the symbol of fecundity. Her attempt to transcend by sinking down from her godlike status to be with a human man she loves is what kills her, just as Christ demonstrates his love for all humanity and suffers death by crucifixion. The duality of the Christian voice may be there also to serve to show others how in reality both heathens and Christians alike depended on a greater being for survival. Both communities thrived on peace and harmony. Yet Christians seemed to be quite as bloodthirsty as the alleged barbaric heathens as they too carried out a deadly ritual by sacrificing poor Tess. Threfore, Hardy is briging a gap between heathens and Christians seemingly telling them that everyone is the same, in spite of the faith they claim to have. Therefore, the book is a celebration of paganism and a yearning for the past echoed through a Christian voice.
One may also compare Hardy’s Jude the Obscure with Tess of the d’Urbervilles in the sense that both seem to be aiming to imitate the bygone classical past of virtue and dignified endeavor. While Jude is trying to master his Latin and Greek as well as to acquire a good education, he is put down by society simply because of his social class. Tess herself is unable to raise herself out of the murky waters she was thrown in because she does not belong to a society that appreciates women, unlike the society of the classical era. Therefore, it is easy to come to the conclusion that Thomas Hardy did not quite agree with the conventions of his time, and would have liked to see changes applied. Through his novels, he aimed to urge his readers to open their eyes and understand what is taking place in the world around them, that it is not necessarily right and that not everyone benefits from the social system. Tess, the pagan goddess, had to grasp at the past in order to generate the present in the future, thus encouraging the readers to consider and learn from history so that mistakes are not repeated.
List of works cited
Coghill, Jeff, CliffsNotes on Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles (United States of America: Books Worldwide, Inc. 2001)
Hardy, Thomas, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Ontario: Dover Publications, Inc, 2001)
Hughes, Kathryn, “Gender Roles In The 19th Century”, British Library, 2014 <https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century> [accessed 7 November 2016]
Kass, Leon, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (New York: Free Press, 2003)
Shilling, Chris, The Body and Social Theory (London: Sage Publications
Ideal Marriage From Tom Hardy’s Perspective
Thomas Hardy once said, “A Plot, or Tragedy, should arise from the gradual closing in of a situation that comes of ordinary human passions, prejudices, and ambitions, by reason of the characters taking no trouble to ward off the disastrous events produced by the said passions, prejudices, and ambitions.” To this end, in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the author uses the literary device of nemesis, i.e. poetic justice to great effect. In the novel’s final phase, “Fulfillment,” the reader is confronted with justice dealt to three of the characters, Alec for corruptedness, Angel for unforgiveness, and Tess for being a murderess. Nevertheless, in choosing to end the novel on the hopeful note of a marriage between Angel and Liza-Lu, Hardy provides a means both for Angel’s redemption and the continuation of Tess’ legacy.
At the beginning of Chapter 53, an aged and sallow Angel returns from Brazil cured of his obstinate idealism and desperate to right the wrongs he committed against Tess. Unfortunately, since the two letters she has written him are contradictory, he cannot know whether she will take him back. When he finally finds her he discovers that she has been masquerading as Mrs. Alec D’Urberville, and therein lies his punishment. The “mere yellow skeleton,” once the shining Angel Clare, realizes the folly of his hard-heartedness all too late and finds himself a cuckold (Hardy 378). In accepting Alec’s economic support, Tess has allowed her family loyalty to undermine her morality, thus dooming her to the fate of a fallen woman. Angels’ reappearance incites great emotional distress on the part of Tess because she blames Alec for extinguishing the hope that her true husband would return. Therefore, in a fit of passion, she murders Alec, punishing him for his corrupting influence and consequently placing herself at the mercy of the English justice system. Whether it can be rationalized or not, all three characters receive poetic justice at the hands of Hardy, and therefore set the scene for the renewal of hope exemplified in the relationship formed between Angel and Tess’ sister ‘Liza-Lu.
At first Tess avoids retribution for her crime by escaping with Angel to the countryside. It is only when she begins to seriously consider her inevitable capture and execution that she intimates to Angel that he should marry her younger sister. In this scene once again her family loyalty influences her decisions, as she first says, “Angel, if anything happens to me, will you watch over ‘Liza-Lu for my sake?” Further supporting her argument she states, “‘Liza-Lu is so gentle and sweet…she has all the best of me without the bad of me…if she were to become yours it would almost seem as if death had not divided us” (Hardy 394). On a superficial level, by asking Angel to his sister-in-law, Tess is merely ensuring the economic security of her family, who she has made sacrifices for throughout the novel. This idea is vital to the novel’s resolution because in shouldering this responsibility Angel would be able to redeem himself for his sins against Tess. Moreover, the marriage would be an act of atonement because Angel would have to take yet another bride from a poor family and flout civil laws against marrying a deceased wife’s sister (the Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill condoning this was only passed in 1907).
It is debatable whether or not Tess actually believes her own exclamation of, “O I could share you with her willingly when we are spirits” (Hardy 394)2E Even though ‘Liza-Lu is described as a “spiritualized image” of Tess, it is probably less important that the deceased Tess live vicariously through her sister than the living Tess feel that Angel has someone to fulfill his ideal of purity (Hardy 396). Nevertheless, it is important to consider that even though the old Angel told Tess that he was in love with someone else in her form after her confession, it is entirely possible that the matured Angel finally loves Tess for who she is, “a pure woman” despite tragic circumstances. This reveals itself when Angel responds to Tess’ entreaty that he marry ‘Liza-Lu with, “If I lose you I lose all!” (Hardy 394). Tess thinks that she is giving Angel what he wants in terms of an ideal marriage with a purer version of herself, but the reader can hardly imagine that the union of ‘Liza-Lu and Angel, born out of necessity and a sense of duty, will be a joyful one.
In general, one would not be mistaken in assuming that in most novels, marriages denote happy endings. However, in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the auspiciousness of this plot twist is questionable. It is difficult to believe that Angel will soon forget Tess. Moreover, even if he does, will he judge ‘Liza-Lu by his old idealistic standards or continually compare her to his dead wife? In the end, it is ironic that Tess is executed for the only act in which she asserts herself against her seducer. The reader experiences a conflict between desire for Tess to emerge as a strong character and the Victorian convention of the long-suffering heroine. It is vital to consider that although Alec and Tess are both punished by death for their ethical transgressions, at the novel’s conclusion, Angel is left alive and full of regret. The marriage to ‘Liza-Lu is therefore of extreme importance because if Angel devotes himself to his new wife he can begin to redeem himself for wronging Tess. An interesting point of speculation is that any child of Angel and ‘Liza-Lu would be a part of Tess and a perpetuation of the noble line of the D’Urbervilles. In biology there is a phenomenon known as kin selection which explains the tendency of altruism among family members as a desire to perpetuate genes held in common. If Tess can guarantee that her genes are preserved in a child of Angel and ‘Liza-Lu, who is to say that while the mighty can fall, they may not rise again?
Love Triangles and the Complicating Factor of the Heath in the Return of the Native
In Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native, the heath is essentially treated as a character, albeit an extremely powerful one. Like the other characters, it loves possessively and without regard to the feelings of others. It competes with Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia for Clym’s affections, ultimately destroying all three of their lives.
Thomas Hardy presents the heath as a character, which lives, loves, and feels in the same ways as the other characters. He opens the novel by introducing and describing the heath, giving the reader an initial glimpse of its rugged grandeur and raw, sometimes cruel, power:
It was at present a place perfectly accordant with man’s nature – neither ghastly, hateful, nor ugly; neither commonplace, unmeaning, nor tame; but, like man, slighted and enduring; and withal singularly colossal and mysterious in its swarthy monotony. As with some persons who have long lived apart, solitude seemed to look out of its countenance. It had a lonely face, suggesting tragical possibilities. (pg 7)
The heath is an illusory character, full of dark strength and mystery. While inhabitable, it is at its core an untamable, wild place, and “Civilization [is] its enemy.” (pg 7) Though a character and susceptible to human emotions, the heath has supernatural strength, and an unbridled capacity for violence. It wields its physical power over the humans that live on it, molding their lives as it desires.
With the exception of Diggory Venn and Thomasin, “love” for the characters is more synonymous with possession than with romance. Wildeve exploits Thomasin, marrying her primarily to punish Eustacia. When Eustacia “loves” Wildeve, she thinks about him only in monetary terms, and her love fades when she perceives his social inferiority:
. . . What was the man worth whom a woman inferior to herself did not value? . . . Her social superiority over him, which hitherto had scarcely ever impressed her, became unpleasantly insistent, and for the first time she felt that she had stooped in loving him. (pg 83)
The heath is a jealous lover, and, like the other characters in the novel, it wishes not just to romance its objects of affection, but to possess them, both in body and in mind. No one in the novel manages to leave the heath alive: Either they remain out of free will like Thomasin, as victims of circumstance like Clym, or, like Eustacia and Wildeve, die in an attempt to escape it.
The heath holds a special love for Clym. As evidenced by the title of the novel, Clym is a native of the area – in many ways a child of the heath, and an object of fascination for it and its commoner inhabitants. “. . . I’ll own that we was talking about ‘ee. We were wondering what could keep you home here mollyhorning about when you have made such a world-wide name for yourself. . . .” (pg 143-4) Clym decided that the life he was perusing was empty, and so he returns to his native land, proudly announcing, “I have come home.” (pg 144) He takes pleasure in the heath’s immutable glory:
To many persons this Egdon was a place which had slipped out of its century generations ago, to intrude as an uncouth object into this. It was an obsolete thing, and few cared to study it… But as for Yeobright, when he looked from the heights on his way he could not help indulging in a barbarous satisfaction at observing that, in some of the attempts at reclamation from the waste, tillage, after holding on for a year or two, had receded again in despair, the ferns and furze-tufts stubbornly reasserting themselves. (pg 146-7)
Clym’s lengthy excursions and decision to become a part-time furze-cutter indicate an urge to be in and with the heath. His compulsion is requited – the heath, overjoyed at his return, welcomes Clym warmly, a reunion akin to that of long-lost lovers:
Bees hummed around his ears with an intimate air, and tugged at the heath and furze-flowers at his side in such numbers as to weight them down to the sod. The strange amber-colored butterflies which Egdon produced, and which were never seen elsewhere, quivered in the breath of his lips, alighted upon his bowed back, and sported with the glittering point of his hook as he flourished it up and down. (pg 209)
The heath’s relationship with Eustacia Vye is not so intimate. Eustacia is no native to the heath: She was born outside of it, in the local town of Budmouth, but when her father died, she was moved to Egdon to be cared for by her grandfather. She feels trapped in the heath, an exile from “. . . what is called life – music, poetry, passion, war, and all the beating and pulsing that is going on in the world” (pg 233) and resents Destiny for imprisoning her there, “‘…You hate the heath as much as ever; that I know.’ ‘I do,’ she murmured deeply. ‘ ‘Tis my cross, my shame, and will be my death!’” (pg 71) Eustacia sees Clym as a way to get to Paris, and it is primarily this illusion that draws her to him. Even as he attempts to propose to Eustacia, her mind is off in Paris:
‘There is only one cure for this anxiety, dearest – you must be my wife.’
She started: then endeavored to say calmly, ‘Cynics say that cures the anxiety by curing the love.’
‘But you must answer me. Shall I claim you some day – I don’t mean at once?’
‘I must think,’ Eustacia murmured. ‘At present speak of Paris to me. Is there any place like it on earth?’ (pg 165)
Ms. Yeobright is a proud woman, and while she accepts a life on the heath for herself, is no friend of it. Her conversations with Clym suggest that she sees life on the heath as inferior to life elsewhere. Even before Eustacia, she wants Clym to have a better life than the one he has set his sights on. When Ms. Yeobright becomes aware of her connection with Clym, she primarily blames Eustacia for his desire to stay: “It troubles me, Clym. You are wasting your life here; and it is solely on account of her. If it had not been for that woman you never would have entertained this teaching scheme at all.” (pg 161)
From the very beginning of their interactions, Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia are at odds with one another. Ms. Yeobright, not entirely above listening to town gossip, not only warns Clym that Eustacia is not only inferior in her social standing, but questions her moral substance, “I have never heard that she is of any use to herself or to other people. Good girls don’t get treated as witches even on Egdon.” (pg 150) Ms. Yeobright is also worried that Eustacia is the reason that Clym wants to stay on the heath. She thinks that Eustacia ties him down, and resents her for it. For Eustacia, it is primarily arrogance and an inflated sense of dignity that causes her to fight with Ms. Yeobright:
I am indignant; and so would any woman be. It was a condescension in me to be Clym’s wife, and not a maneuver, let me remind you; and therefore I will not be treated as a schemer whom it becomes necessary to bear with because she has crept into the family. (pg 203)
The competition and fight that ensues between the two women creates what seems to be an irreconcilable division between them.
The heath, which desires to possess Clym for itself, competes with Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia for Clym’s affections. The heath tries to satisfy all of Clym’s desires, even those of human companionship. It not only provides Clym with a living by cutting furze, but seeks to fulfill his need for intimacy. While Eustacia seeks to turn Clym’s head with her physical appeal, the heath arrays Clym in an aura of organic finery, courting him with “litters of young rabbits,” (pg 209) and “tribes of emerald-green grasshoppers.” (pg 209). It is, in a sense, putting on a show for Clym, trying to draw him in to ensure his fidelity. It is also presented as a mother figure to Clym:
[Clym] might be said to be its product. His eyes had first opened thereon; with its appearance all the first images of his memory were mingled; his estimate of life had been colored by it; his toys had been the flint knives and arrow-heads which he found there, wondering why stones should ‘grow’ to such odd shapes; his flowers, the purple bells and yellow furze; his animal kingdom, the snakes and croppers; his society, its human haunters. (pg 146)
The heath is an extraordinarily narcissistic character. It seeks to replace his mother and wife, not to benefit Clym, but because it wants him to be completely dependent on it.
Because it cannot emote as a human would, the heath often expresses its feelings in the weather, which is a prime indicator of the mood of a scene in the novel. When it becomes agitated or angry, the heath turns wild and tumultuous. The storm following Clym and Eustacia’s decision to marry expresses the heath’s anger at their union and what it implicates for Clym’s future:
The weather was far different from that of the evening before. . . The wet young beeches were undergoing amputations, bruises, cripplings, and harsh lacerations, from which would leave scars visible till the day of their burning. Each stem was wrenched at the root, where it moved like a bone in its socket, and at every onset of the gale convulsive sounds came from the branches, as if pain were felt. (pg 175)
The heath demonstrates its destructive power in the storm, a dark omen of things to come.
Though Eustacia and Ms. Yeobright compete with each other for Clym’s attention, they share a common hope for his future. Both women want Clym to return to Paris – Ms. Yeobright because it is what will be best for him, and Eustacia because she hopes that Clym will take her away from her stifled existence on the heath. Ms. Yeobright says to Clym, “I fully expected that in the course of a month or two you would have seen the folly of such self-sacrifice, and would have been by this time back again to Paris in some business or other.” (pg 144) She expects much of Clym, and is worried by his decision to “go back in the world.” Eustacia, by far the more egocentric of the two, is mainly concerned with what she hopes to gain from marriage to Clym – a life in Paris. Despite their different motivations, the women are in agreement with one another on this subject.
For most of the novel, Eustacia and Ms. Yeobright live very separate lives, each trying to keep as much distance as possible from the other. However, Ms. Yeobright, wracked with despair and loneliness, eventually decides to swallow her pride and visit Clym and Eustacia. She hopes to reconcile herself with Eustacia, but primarily to reunite with Clym, whom she misses greatly. When Ms. Yeobright sets out for Clym’s house, the heath, trying to keep the two apart, whips up an oppressive heat wave:
The sun had branded the whole heath with his mark, even the purple heath-flowers having put on a brownness under the dry blazes of the few preceding days… In cool, fresh weather Mrs. Yeobright would have found no inconvenience in walking to Alderworth, but the present torrid attack made the journey a heavy undertaking for a woman past middle age… (pg 228)
Single-minded in her determination to make things right, Ms. Yeobright foolishly decides to brave the weather, physically exhausting herself in the process. “…She sat for twenty minutes or more ere she could summon resolution to go down to the door, her courage being lowered to zero by her physical lassitude.” (pg 230) When she arrives at Clym’s house, she is shut out and unable to regain her strength. Though physically spent and weary with grief, Ms. Yeobright lets theatrics get the best of her and, abandoning her common sense, immediately heads back towards her home:
Clym’s mother was at this time following a path which lay hidden from Eustacia by a shoulder of the hill. Her walk thither from the garden gate had been hasty and determined, as of a woman who was now no less anxious to escape from the scene than she had previously been to enter it. (pg 236)
Ms. Yeobright’s heat-of-the-moment decision proves to be a mistake – she is unable to make it home and lays down in the heath to rest. As she sleeps, the heath sees its opportunity to strike, and an adder bites her leg, inflicting a fatal wound.
Ms. Yeobright didn’t die of “natural causes;” she was murdered by the heath. The heath, that covetous, cruel entity, saw her as an obstacle to its relationship with Clym, and slew her so that it might have Clym for itself. Ms. Yeobright, already a rival to the heath simply by virtue of being his mother, also wanted him to move to Paris. Though Clym seemed resolute in his decision to stay in the heath, “‘How extraordinary that you and my mother should be of one mind about this!’ said Yeobright. ‘I have vowed not to go back, Eustacia.’” (pg 166), an alliance between Ms. Yeobright and Eustacia could have jeopardized his relationship with the heath. By killing her, the heath eliminates competition for Clym’s attention and ensures that a union between Ms. Yeobright and Clym or Eustacia is impossible. The murder also serves to widen the split between Clym and his wife – Once he discovers the truth, Clym lays the blame for his mother’s death on Eustacia:
You shut the door – you looked out of the window upon her – you had a man in the house with you- you sent her away to die. The inhumanity – the treachery – I will not touch you – stand away from me- and confess every word! . . . Forgive you I never can. (Pgs 271-2)
Here the heath first demonstrates the full extent of its possessiveness and capacity for calculated brutality. It refuses to be deserted and would rather take a life than risk having anyone, especially Clym, leave it.
The heath again lashes out when Eustacia and Wildeve attempt to run off together to Budmouth. Though the cause is left ambiguous, Eustacia ends up drowned in the midst of a storm, unable to break free from her Israelite-esque captivity on the heath:
. . . The light from Yeobright’s lamp shed a flecked and agitated radiance across the wir-pool, revealing to the ex-engineer the tumbling courses of the currents from the hatches above. Across this gashed and puckered mirror a dark body was slowly borne by one of the backward currents. (pg 306)
She was Clym’s last intimate human connection, and with her death goes his capacity for emotional attachment:
Every pulse of loverlike feeling which had not been stilled during Eustacia’s lifetime had gone into the grave with her. His passion for her had occurred too far on in his manhood to leave fuel enough on hand for another fire of that sort, as may happen with more boyish loves. (pg 320)
With both Eustacia and Ms. Yeobright dead, Clym is left destitute of human companionship, suspended in a state of spiritual limbo. He has no reason or motivation to leave the heath, and so there he stays, making a living as a local itinerant preacher. He is reduced to lengthy speeches and long, lonesome walks to visit the graves of Eustacia and his mother. At last, the heath has achieved its goal of singularly possessing Clym’s mind and body, but at the expense of his, Eustacia’s, and Ms. Yeobright’s lives.
The heath’s narcissism and possessive love for Clym brings it into a vicious rivalry for his attention. It alters the course of Clym, Eustacia, and Ms. Yeobright’s lives, ultimately bringing them to tragic ends.
Hardy’s Fatalistic View of Life as Shown Through the Return of the Native
The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy, begins with personification of a majestic heath, the setting for this novel: “The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening; it could… retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms… and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread.” Yet these emotionally intense descriptions are extremely misleading, for in reality the heath is an inanimate object which possesses no feelings, opinions, or biases. It is an immortal place, and continues to exist as its inhabitants live their lives and die. In contrast with the heath is man himself: mortal and vulnerable, selfish, and always looking to advance his place in the world. This novel shows the dominance of nature over man, stressing man’s impermanence against the infinity of nature. This belief, also known as fatalism, is emphasized throughout the novel. This view is shared by the character of Clym Yeobright, who survives at the end of the story, but is contrasted by Eustacia Vye, who rebels against these ideas, leading to her own downfall. The views of these characters are emphasized through their own actions, their interactions with other characters in the book, allusions to biblical references, and the use of motifs.
Fatalistic views can best be illustrated through Clym Yeobright’s character and relationships with the other characters of the novel. On his own, Clym believes that everyone’s lives are predetermined, and that fate will direct what will happen to a person. Because of this, Clym is able to constantly revise his lifestyle to adapt to what his life brings to him. He takes all of his successes and failures in stride, because he knows within his life there is an underlying reason and plan for what is happening. His first big life change occurs when he decided that life in Paris was not for him, and that he must return to his native land, and live his life on the heath. This is almost like a birthright, for although he is an extraordinary person, shown through his description, at heart he is a man of the heath. Clym is again forced to make a modification in his lifestyle when he is blinded. This is a major set-back to Clym’s plans of setting up a school to educate the people of the heath. But, instead of being devastated by it, as Eustacia is, Clym decides to continue on with his life as best he can in spite of this new obstacle. Although he is an exceptional person, Clym finds no shame in becoming a furze-cutter, the typical job of a heathsman. He even enjoys the job, as, “the monotony of his occupation soothed him, and was in itself a pleasure… [his] effort offered homely courses.” Clym’s enjoyment of his new work shows that he is at peace with physis, and he sings songs of delight while working. This flexibility that Clym shows in his lifestyle exemplifies his notion of fatalism, and shows how he survives life on the heath. During the novel, there is an allusion to Oedipus, “[Clym’s] mouth had passed into the phase more or less imaginatively rendered in the studies of Oedipus.” This allusion is really the mention of Clym’s partial parallel, as he is very much like Oedipus in numerous ways. In the tale of Oedipus, he gouges his eyes out when he finds out that he married his mother; Clym’s equivalent is that he is blind. When Oedipus first came back to the town of his birth, the people lauded him as a hero and gave him the gift of the queen; later, however, when the truth was discovered that the queen was really Oedipus’ mother, it caused much harm and bad happenings. Likewise, everyone on the heath is very happy to have Clym return from Paris, but after a while, his return causes disturbances on the heath, and leads indirectly to the deaths of Mrs. Yeobright, Eustacia, and Wildeve. In addition, it is suspected that Clym has an Oedipus complex, and that name is derived from Oedipus’ marriage to his mother. This shows fatalism because the entire story of Oedipus is based on a series of omens (which told of his fate), and miscommunications. Because Oedipus is a partial parallel to Clym, Clym’s return to the heath can be seen as being predetermined, as Oedipus’ life was based on fate as well. Fatalism is also shown through the people of the heath. The people who live there are innocent and simple, trying to cope with their day-to-day struggles as best they can. Their dialect, which is simple and softly accented, illustrates their naturalness, “‘Twas to be if ?twas, I suppose.’” These people lead menial lives; still they accept, and are content with, whatever comes their way. This is a part of what makes them so innocent. It is this fatalistic approach that allows them to survive live on a place like the heath, and to be happy and at-one with nature. One way they try to cope with this harsh, rustic lifestyle is through rituals. Their annual November 5 bonfire introduces the heathfolk into the story. This bonfire is their way of trying to lighten the darkness of the coming winter, which could be symbolic of the dismal lives they lead. They enjoy dancing around the bonfire in a circle, and, even after the fire goes out, they continue with their dance, showing of their untold peace with nature. Dancing seems to be a common practice at most other special events: “‘You be bound to dance at Christmas because ?tis the time o’ year; you must dance at weddings because ?tis the time o’ life. At christenings folk will even smuggle in a reel or two…’” These dances help to put hope and good times into the heathfolks’ lives and to be together as a community. Thomasin could also be considered as a person of the heath, for she is simple and natural, and abides by the laws of nature. Thomasin is first described as possessing, “A fair, sweet, and honest country face… reposing in a nest of wavy chestnut hair… The grief had… abstracted nothing of the bloom… The scarlet of her lips had not had time to abate…” These numerous references, (country, nest, chestnut, bloom, scarlet (as in berries)), illustrates how Thomasin was very much in accordance with nature. Thomasin reveals her fatalistic views when dealing with her relationship with Wildeve. Although she knows that it is not truly in her best interest after their non-marriage, Thomasin agrees to marry Wildeve again. She realizes that if she does not marry Wildeve that the heathfolk will gossip about her and Clym will be ashamed. This self-consciousness helps her stay on-track with her fate. She accepts Wildeve’s second marriage proposal with the following view: “‘I agreed to it… [because] I am a practical woman now. I do not believe in hearts at all. I would marry him under any circumstances…’” Throughout the novel, Thomasin goes along with her fate, and is rewarded with happiness at the end of the story through her second marriage. However, not all heathpeople are as in sync with nature as Thomasin. Christian Cantle’s character shows views opposing fatalism. This is a very superstitious man who is afraid of most everything. Basically, his fears take him out-of-line with fate, yet it is also his fears that put him back on-track. This is illustrated during the November 5 bonfire. When darkness comes, Christian is the only person who suggests that all the heathfolk head home right away and that, “Fifth-of Novembers ought [not] to be kept up by night except in towns. It should be by day in outstep, ill-accounted places like this!” This suggestion is spurned by the universal human fear of the dark and unknown. However, what he is suggesting would break rituals, which are the way for the heathfolk to cope in their fatalistic society. However, the other heathfolk tell him that is a foolish idea. Christian’s low self-esteem gives him fear of speaking out against them, and he returns to his fated course. Another time, Christian’s extreme superstitious nature leads to rebellion as well. When he wins a raffle on the way to delivering guineas to Clym and Thomasin, Christian thinks that this is a sign that he is lucky. Although he has no wife or girlfriend, his prize of a gown-piece elates him. This leads to his game with Wildeve in which he lost all of the guineas that were supposed to be delivered directly to Thomasin and Clym. His superstitious nature allowed him to get involved in something so risky, but, despite his flaws and mistakes, Christian is basically at-peace with nature, and feels very much at home on the heath.
In contrast with Clym’s ability to accommodate his life to survive the heath, his mother, Mrs. Yeobright, cannot fulfill her ananke, as she goes against her fate, and, consequently, dies. This occurs when Mrs. Yeobright’s fatal flaw is revealed; she has a bad habit of meddling into her children’s affairs. When this is combined with her ananke, which is to bare the burden of Thomasin and Clym, it leads to disaster. She, like most other heath people, disapprove of Eustacia Vye, and when she finds out that Clym is interested in her, is unhappy. One day, when she and Clym are walking on the heath, they separate; Clym heads to Mistover Knap to see Eustacia, while Mrs. Yeobright’s destination is for the Quiet Woman Inn. Mistover Knap is representative as a place for outsiders, and Mrs. Yeobright is burdened because she knows that Clym is on the wrong path. This separation to different places on the heath is also symbolic of the start of a spiritual separation between Mrs. Yeobright and Clym that will never fully be resolved. After this, Mrs. Yeobright’s meddling becomes an issue when she interferes between Thomasin and Wildeve’s marriage by plotting to give Thomasin money unbeknownst to Wildeve. This use of money, which is an unnatural substance, goes against physis, and causes sinister happenings to occur. The money causes a slew of misunderstandings and coincidences which lead to Mrs. Yeobright’s journey to Clym’s house. The “closed door incident” is too much of a burden for Mrs. Yeobright, and she is at the point of being unable to continue to fulfill her ananke. Her dying words are, “I have a burden which is more than I can bare.” This leads to the establishment of Clym’s ananke, which is to bare the burden of his mother’s death. This is quite ironic because his mother’s ananke was to bare the burden of him; in a way, they have reversed roles. Although Mrs. Yeobright could not fulfill her ananke because of her fatal flaw of meddling, because Clym holds fatalistic views and can easily adapt to new obstacles in life, he is able to continue to flourish on the heath.
Contrary to Clym, Eustacia Vye held rebelled against fatalistic views. Her dream is leave the heath, which she feels she doesn’t belong in. Ironically, her ananke is to stay on the heath. This discrepancy between fate and Eustacia’s rebellion of, or misconceived notions about, her fate, are shown immediately with her introduction. When she is first incorporated into the story, she is standing on top of a high hill. Hardy decides to introduce Eustacia as being higher than nature, almost superhuman, a goddess. She is observed to be so high in the air that, “nothing that could be mapped anywhere else on the celestial globe.” It being twilight, the way the sun reflects onto the hill, Eustacia’s observer cannot distinguish where the hill ends and Eustacia begins. Hardy says that Eustacia gave the hills a “perfect, delicate, and necessary finish.” Eustacia is truly meant to be a part of nature. But, as incredible as she looks as a part of nature, she moves, and the effect on the hill is palpable: “…the discontinuance of immobility in any quarter suggested confusion… The figure perceptibly… shifted a step or two… [resulting in] displacement…” Eustacia’s movements were awkward, and disturbed the beauty of nature that she should have beautified. Her awkwardness in this scene is symbolic of her rebellion against nature and her fate. It also shows the irony of how this superhuman character who should be the goddess of nature, decides to rebel against her subjects. This introductory scene sums up Eustacia’s fatal flaw and foreshadows her conflict with the heath. Besides being a goddess of nature, there is an allusion to the “Queen of Love”, symbolic of Eustacia. There is something about Eustacia that makes men fall in love with her. As she rebels against being the goddess of nature, she also abuses her privileges of being the Queen of Love. The combination of her rebellion and abuse leads Eustacia to whatever she wants, illustrated through Wildeve, Clym, and Charley. It was destined that Wildeve would marry Thomasin. However, Eustacia could not accept this, because she wanted to prove she could be with Wildeve if she so wanted. On the night of his wedding, Eustacia sets a bonfire as a signal to him to meet her. Being the Queen of Love, naturally Wildeve cannot turn down this summoning. Besides interfering with fate, (Thomasin and Wildeve’s), she uses the bonfire, a symbol of the innocence of the heathpeople, and turns it into a sign of corruption. Even after Wildeve and Thomasin’s marriage, she stays in contact with Wildeve, and, when she gets depressed over the fact that Clym will not, or cannot, leave the heath, Eustacia falls back on Wildeve to get her out. Eustacia should never have been in contact with Wildeve after his proposal to Thomasin, because he and Thomasin are destined to be together. This refusal to accept fate leads to sneaking around, Mrs. Yeobright’s death, Thomasin’s suspicions, Clym’s anger, and, ultimately, Eustacia’s death. Just as Wildeve cannot resist helping Eustacia when she needs a favor, Charley, a young heathman, has the same problem. He is infatuated by Eustacia and will do anything for her. While Charley only holds a small part in the book, his entire role consists of helping Eustacia. When Eustacia wants to dress as a mummer to get into the Yeobright Christmas party to see Clym, Charley is more than willing to help her for the price of fifteen minutes of holding Eustacia’s hand. When his fifteen minutes are up, Charley is regretful that he used all fifteen minutes and can barely let go of Eustacia’s hand. Although Eustacia could care less about Charley, this admiration adds to her conceit that she can have any man she wants, including Clym. Later in the book, Charley sees Eustacia gazing at the guns in her grandfather’s house, contemplating suicide. At this point Eustacia has hit rock bottom, and, protectively, Charley locks up the guns in the stable. It is Charley’s love of Eustacia, and his heathfolk innocence, which keeps her alive; he doesn’t just physically prevent her potential suicide, but shows her that people still care about her. Although still depressed, Eustacia’s small rejuvenation allows her go on, but leads her to plot with Wildeve to go to Budmouth. Once again Eustacia is trying to leave the heath. When this materializes, and she is about to leave for Budmouth, she dies, because the heath cannot allow even a goddess to go against fate and break her ananke. In regards to Clym, Eustacia’s flaws included over-confidence and an abuse of her position as the Queen of Love. When Eustacia finds out that Clym is returning to the heath, she immediately knows that she will be with him. It is at this point that she hastily tells Wildeve that she will not marry him. This frees her for Clym, who she thinks will bring her to Paris, a life that she dreams of constantly. Eustacia does not have any doubts that Clym will not think twice before fulfilling her wishes, even before they have met. When they finally encounter each other, Eustacia and Clym’s fascinations are mutual. However, they are so infatuated with each other that neither of them listens to each other’s wishes, and there is unspoken hostility; Clym plans to stay on the heath and set up a school for the heathpeople, whereas Eustacia thinks that Clym is going to be her knight, and sweep her away to Paris. Eustacia is so conceited and used to everyone doing whatever she wants she believes that Clym will eventually abide by her wishes, even if they conflict with his own. But this is not what happens, as Clym is no ordinary person. Clym’s ananke becomes clear when Mrs. Yeobright dies, and he knows he must stay on the heath to bare the burden of his mother’s death. He is not as quick to yield to another’s wishes without considering his ananke, which cannot be fulfilled if he journeys abroad. Even so, Eustacia still has hopes of Paris until Clym goes blind. At this time, she realizes that they will never leave the heath, and that their marriage isn’t working out. When Eustacia hears Clym singing while working as a furze-cutter, she cannot take it anymore. Eustacia becomes crazed, and leaves Clym. Once again her conceit overwhelms her, as she feels she is better than having a furze-cutter for a husband, and feels that Clym should feel the same way. Eustacia could have lived as the goddess of nature and the Queen of Love and accepted the life that was given to her on the heath if she would have abided by her fate. But, her narcissism and pride, hybris, made Eustacia think that she was better than the people of the heath, and she viewed her surroundings with condescension. Eustacia was an extraordinary person; she was supposed to help the heath, not belittle it. When she tried to escape with Wildeve, her ananke was clearly being broken, and the result was death. Eustacia fought against the inevitable, which was one argument that even she was not above. However, Eustacia lead a life of torment as an outsider, because she held different beliefs and dreams than the average heathperson. Yet, in her death, Eustacia was happy and peaceful. The description of Eustacia’s dead body car.ries a reference to light, “…her complexion… seemed more than whiteness; it was almost light.” Her expression is described as “pleasant”, and following descriptions carry references to nature, with the words “country” and “forest”. These all hold positive connotations, and I believe that with her death, she was ironically happy, peaceful, and finally in-sync with nature. She was at last free of the dejectedness of the heath.
In a story based on the greatness of nature and preaching the goodness of a simple life, Thomas Hardy’s fatalistic views can be summed up with the appropriately primitive theory of survival of the fittest. Those on the heath that followed fate and could adapt to their surroundings, (Clym, Thomasin, Christian, and the heathfolk), survived. On the reverse side, those on the heath who could not deal with traditional life, (Mrs. Yeobright, Wildeve, and Eustacia), perished, leaving room for new and potentially better citizens to occupy their places. Through Clym and Eustacia’s actions and interactions with other characters in the book, Hardy shows that he favors this view and tries to emphasize that individuals should not rebel against fate, because, as the word implies, it is inevitable. The heath will be forever; mankind is only transitory. Instead of unhappy rebellion, man should aim for the most of what life offers in one’s lifetime, and a happy, fulfilling existence will follow.
Analysis Of Tess Of The D’Urbervilles As An Ideal Character
Some of the most readable and critically acclaimed social commentaries in the English language, such as Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, employ a fascinating protagonist and numerous sarcastic intrusions. Thomas Hardy similarly produces a beautiful novel in Tess of the d’Urbervilles because of his intriguing characterization and his willingness to step into the story. While Hardy’s intrusions add to the story, his attempts to portray Tess as a completely admirable character fail; instead, she is a normal person -sometimes admirable, sometimes not- and it is due to this that she is so pitiable.
Admittedly, Tess is a likable and admirable person at a few instances throughout the book. For example, when Tess realizes that Angel loves only a false image of her, she refuses to attempt to win him back even though it is in her power. As Jean Jacques Rousseau said, “Only when the voice of duty replaces physical impulse” does man find himself “ennobled” and “elevated”; Tess is a remarkably noble admirable person at this moment because most readers acknowledge that they would be unable to resist the same temptation. The “many effective chords” which she could have used to trap him were “left untouched” because Tess knew that she could never be what he wished her to be. Tess also shows her integrity frequently, and her complete lack of hypocrisy makes her ethics appear even more noble.
Though Hardy constantly tries to make Tess into a perfect heroine, her many character flaws lower her from her admirable status. Tess’ need to blame everything on herself becomes increasingly annoying, as this self-blame oftentimes only hurts herself and her family. By the end of the book, her complete reliance on Angel is also frustrating; she is willing to kill herself without him though he is no better a man than she a woman. While some might argue this only shows her natural, admirable passion, Tess needs to value herself more. She is too submissive throughout, especially regarding her “crime”. Tess allows other people’s opinions of her to force her withdrawal from society rather than realizing that her being seduced is not her fault. She questions the fairness of societal laws overruling natural laws, but she never stands up for what she believes. She is incredibly irritating in Phase the Fourth of the book, when she vacillates between marrying and not marrying Angel, telling him and not telling him of her past. While this indecision may have been meant to show her inner confusion, her attempts to be better than she is are maddening.
However, Tess is generally an admirable character and definitely a pitiable one. As the reader is completely exposed to Tess’ inner thoughts, he can see all of her faults. Despite her faults, however, her honest efforts to do what she feels best and her selflessness make her an undoubtedly admirable character. She is absolutely a pitiable character; knowing that Tess tries as hard as she can to do the right thing, it seems awful that she must suffer because of the people surrounding her. While her actions are partly to blame, she committed them with the best intentions, which only increases sympathy for her. Everyone knows that things like family, chance, and social law restrict our action, and we feel much pity for Tess, who tries as hard as she can but can still not escape the influences shaping her.
Hardy’s intrusions provide the last cause for reader sympathy for Tess. For Tess of the d’Urbervilles, I would argue that this author commentary is necessary to a complete story. This book deals greatly with human passion, and Hardy’s ironic interruptions are needed. Tess seems very resigned to her fate, but Hardy shows the bristling anger that the average reader feels at imagining the wrongs that Tess suffers. If Hardy were to write this with uncontrolled rants or with a sterile, neutral tone, the whole effect of his compassion for Tess would disappear. This book is undoubtedly a social commentary, and as such, Hardy’s voice and opinions are welcome ways to merge the concrete with the abstract.
According to Robert Heilman, Alec and Angel gain their interest from the fact that they are “not stereotypes”, but have good and bad qualities. Though Hardy tried to make Tess an ideal character, it is perhaps true of her, as well, that her faults that make her so admirable and personable. Seeing her struggle against outside forces as well as her own personality guarantees an audience full of pity. Hardy’s strong voice throughout and especially his interruptions make the book a more personal, satisfying experience.
Humanity’s Contribution to its Downfall
In his poem “The Convergence of the Twain,” Thomas Hardy describes the unfortunate, yet truly inevitable, sinking of the supposedly invincible Titanic. Concurrently, the poem depicts humanity’s vain struggle against the steadfast forces of nature. The poem’s structural organization as well as diction and figurative language convey the speaker’s disapproving attitude towards man’s hubristic creation of the Titanic.
The poem’s arrangement into rhyming tercets as well as further division into three distinct sections based on an inverted chronology reflect nature’s absolute influence over the inevitability of the Titanic’s crash. Each tercet is composed of two trimeters such as “In the solitude of the sea / deep from human vanity” (1-2) and one hexameter such as “and the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she” (3). The addition of the three syllables from the first line and the three syllables from the subsequent line add up to the six syllables found in the third line, mimicking the convergence of the ship and the iceberg. Furthermore, consistent end rhymes such as “pyres” (4), “fires” (5), and “lyres” (6) contribute to the smooth, flowing rhythm of the stanzas, creating a wave-like pattern that reflects the poem’s setting. Additionally, stanzas one through five describe in media res the aftermath of the Titanic’s crash using imagery of the ship at the bottom of the sea and “deep from human vanity” (2), reinforcing the idea that the ship was destined to fail from the moment of its inception. In this way, stanzas six through eight, which describe the “fashioning / of this creature of cleaving wing” (16-17), as well as stanzas nine through eleven, which portray the actual crash when the ship and the iceberg “were bent / by paths coincident” (28-29), merely become retrospective flashbacks of an ultimately failed endeavor. Together, the poem’s structure and special chronology mirror the destined “Convergence of the Twain,” man and nature, reminding readers of God’s formidability and omnipotence.
Through diction and somber imagery, the poem emphasizes the speaker’s critical tone of humanity’s naive and hubristic belief that it could best nature by constructing the ostensibly indestructible Titanic. The Titanic was once the greatest luxury ship ever built, boasting “mirrors meant / to glass the opulent” (7-8). Now, “the sea-worm” (9), a “grotesque, slimed, dumb, and indifferent” (9) creature crawls on the once lavish mirrors, the negative connotations of these words underscoring the power of luxury to make humans ignorant. Furthermore, “jewels…designed / to ravish the sensuous mind” (10-11) currently “lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind” (13), reflecting how the hubristic humans allowed their vanity to control them, then ultimately regretted their pride when the Titanic crashed and their “gilded gear” (14) and “vaingloriousness” (15) were left behind to be enjoyed only by “dim moon-eyed fish” (13) who have no use for such equipment. Blinded by pride in this seemingly unsinkable creation, humanity failed to respect the forces of nature, resulting in a tragic loss.
The ironic oppositions set up between the ship and the iceberg by manipulating connotation and denotation further substantiate the complete futility of man’s arrogant challenge against God. As the Titanic, a luxury cruise liner, “grew / in stature, grace and hue” (22-23), the iceberg grew in the “shadowy silent distance” (24), creating a stark contrast between the ship’s prideful extravagance and the iceberg’s modest simplicity. Moreover, the paradoxical diction of describing the iceberg as the Titanic’s “sinister mate” (19) sets up the conceit of the ship and the iceberg as destined to meet. Their collision, portrayed as an “intimate welding” (27) when “consummation comes” (33), is a pun on a wedding and its sexual intimacy. Most significantly, this “one august event” (30) is mediated by the “Spinner of Years” (31) and “Immanent Will” (18), alluding to the intervention of some divine power to predestine this tragic occurrence. The ironic theme of marriage between the ship and the iceberg expresses that no matter how large or how strong humanity built the Titanic, it was fated to collide with the iceberg and sink.
The poem’s symbolic structure, imagery, diction, and figurative language highlight the speaker’s critical attitude of man’s foolish challenge of God’s power. The Titanic, the largest and strongest ship of all time that was originally engineered and advertised to be unsinkable, was bested during its maiden voyage by a simple and avoidable iceberg. This tragedy not only represents man’s loss against nature but also serves as a future reminder for all of humanity to keep its pride in check.
The Other Eustacia
“Hardy summons into us a graphic dimension, and then, apparently without realizing the danger in doing so, he allows another Eustacia to enter his novel. This Eustacia emerges, through a consistent patter of speech and action as a creature unfit for the lonely peaks of tragedy.” In his essay “The Other Eustacia,” Robert Evans holds that through allusions to Greek tradition, Hardy sets the stage for a classical tragedy, but then disappoints his readers with a character more on the level of the average teenage rebel. Evans writes, “This then, is the other Eustacia, an emotionally unstable adolescent girl given to self pity and melancholy, basically cold and selfish.” He supports his arguments with examples of Eustacia’s behavior. She loves Clym as a source of momentary passion and fails to comfort him in his time of need because of her own self-pity. Additionally, Evans accuses Eustacia of “petulance and childishness” in her willingness to trample Thomasin Yeobright to achieve her own personal pleasure. Because Evans’s analysis concludes that Eustacia’s fall is the result of her own shortcomings as an immature romantic and melancholy adolescent, in his opinion The Return of the Native lacks the greatness of true tragic fiction.
Robert Evans fails to produce a viable explanation of Hardy’s portrayal of Eustacia because he chooses to concentrate on the contradictions rather then the connections between the “queen of night” and the “courtly pretender.” Eustacia the social rebel and the tragic heroine work together to produce a thematic representation of the conflict between individual and community. This interpretation of the dual image of Eustacia realizes the potential of the novel and supports the tragic proportions suggested throughout the work. The “courtly pretender,” who Evans criticizes for undermining the tragedy of the novel, plays a key role in developing a realistic human picture of Eustacia. As an author interested in presenting an authentic representation of the human condition, Hardy explores the tragic clash between Eustacia’s passionate dreams and the harsh reality of the world in which she lives. Careful examination of her background and situation refute criticism of her actions as selfish or ridiculous. Evans attacks her lack of concern for Thomasin when trying to seduce Wildeve. Her actions may appear self-centered, but in actuality her reaction is natural for someone lacking communal influence.
The women of the heath hate Eustacia because her beauty endangers the security of their marriages and their sons’ futures. Trying to protect her son from Eustacia, Mrs. Yeobright voices her suspicion: “Miss Vye is to my mind too idle to be charming. I have never heard that she is of any use to herself or to other people. Good girls don’t get treated as witches even on Egdon” (Hardy 237). Eustacia does not practice witchcraft, but her ability to charm men turns her into the avowed enemy of the women around her. Although she captivates men, their idolatry does not provide her with normal relationships either. For them she represents the goddess far above their own earthly existence, “a romantic and sweet vision, scarcely incarnate” (397).
Living with her withdrawn grandfather, Eustacia does not have a normal family to provide the human relationships she lacks because of her separation from the heath people. As a social outcast and an orphan, Eustacia finds herself isolated from the people who might teach her the values of Christian charity. Eustacia understandably does not feel compelled to sacrifice her own happiness for people with whom she feels no connection. When she seems unconcerned about the social repercussions of her efforts to steal Wildeve from Thomasin, Hardy emphasizes that social rebellion does not reflect an inherently evil character. He writes, “This did not originate in inherent shamelessness, but in her living too far from the world to feel the impact of public opinion… As far as social ethics were concerned Eustacia approached the savage state”(149). Eustacia naturally does not care about the effect of her actions on Thomasin Yeobright, a woman she neither knows personally nor cares about. On a concrete level, the “courtly pretender” emerges as a rebellious teenager ignorant of human relationships, which would teach her the importance of compromising her own desires for the good of others.
Although criticized by Evans as naive, Eustacia’s desire for passion, rather than the continuity of a monogamous marriage, merely reflects her separation from the practicality of the heath wives. For Eustacia, love is an escape from the mundane existence of the heath, not a way of marrying a secure existence. As Hardy writes: “Love was to her the one cordial which could drive away the eating loneliness of her days. And she seemed to long for the abstraction called passionate love more than any particular lover” (121). Though she marries Clym, she fears the consequences of her decision. She muses to Clym: “Nothing can ensure the continuance of love. It will evaporate like a spirit, and so I feel full of fears…I do not think I shall be the one who wearies first” (255). Since the marriage Eustacia was familiar with generally led to the loss of what little freedom a woman had, she understandably prefers “passionate love” and is suspicious of the confinement of marriage. She has an accurate understanding of the harsh reality of marriage on the heath, a realization that further divides her from the rest of the community.
As a character whose defense of the individual manifests itself as social rebellion, Eustacia the “courtly pretender” and Eustacia the “queen of night” are not contradictory images, but rather the concrete and symbolic manifestation of the same character. As a young woman without the support of people around her, Eustacia follows her own social ethics rather than those of her community. She longs for a “passionate love” as an escape from the limits of life on the heath. Through Eustacia, Hardy attempts to realistically portray the struggle of an orphan and social outcast. Beyond exploring Eustacia on a concrete level, Hardy also places her in the context of a thematic struggle between individuals and their community. Hardy uses lofty language, historic allusions, and images of the “queen of night” to emphasize this symbolism. This dual portrayal of The Return of the Native’s heroine plays a fundamental role in the tragic style of the work. The novel successfully incorporates elements of the Greek tragedy while also advancing a more modern view of the empathetic tragic heroine. Through Eustacia the “queen of night,” Hardy inherits the legacies of the Greek tragedians and suggests the historic context of the conflict between man and his community in human society. As the more human and fundamentally flawed “courtly pretender,” however, Hardy’s Eustacia challenges the element of Greek tragedy that elevates tragic heroes to unreachable Olympian heights.
Evans, Robert. “The Other Eustacia.” Nineteenth Century Fiction. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1968. 39-48.
Hardy, Thomas. The Return of the Native. London: Penguin Books, 1985.
Thomas Hardy’s Social Commentary in Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles provides social commentary on many issues prevalent in Victorian society. In particular, Hardy uses Tess’ submission to her parents, Alec d’Urberville, Angel Clare, and society as a whole to examine the sexual double standard prevalent in Victorian society. Tess is a strong character, enduring many hardships in her life; however, this double standard seals Tess’s fate as the society she lives in prevents her from successfully rising above her oppressors. Hardy also uses Tess’s submission and subsequent destruction to parallel other aspects of the society he critiques, such as the fall of the rural society Tess represents.
The first source of Tess’ oppression is her parents, John and Joan Durbeyfield, who dream of reaching beyond their status as a working class individuals to create an easier life for themselves. The opportunity to receive financial assistance from the aristocratic d’Urberville family sets Tess’ fate into motion. Blinded by their greed, John and Joan send their daughter to marry into the d’Urberville family without a second thought. After her encounter with Alec, Tess returns home only to be rebuked by her family for allowing herself to be seduced by the d’Urberville. The hypocrisy of the Durbeyfield family’s response causes Tess to exclaim, “Why didn’t you tell me there was danger in men-folk? Why didn’t you warn me? Ladies know what to fend hands against because they read novels that tell them of these tricks; but I never had a chance o’ learning in that way, and you did not help me!” (82). This cry for help goes for naught. When Tess again returns home after her separation from Angel her parents react with anger, sighting the humiliation Tess has caused them. The Durbeyfield’s place their daughter’s needs far below their own, keeping her submissive by exploiting her whenever she can offer them anything and otherwise ignoring her.
The second and most prominent force keeping Tess submissive is Alec d’Urberville. Beginning with her rape, Alec supplies physical and mental oppression of Tess. With his reappearance in Phase Six Alec continues this oppression blaming what happened in the woods on Tess and making her swear not to seduce him again. When Alec questions Tess on her religious views, he quickly dismisses her answer as the opinions of her husband. In these conversations, Alec abuses his position as a man relying on the subordinate position of women in society as means for his poor treatment of Tess. This trend escalates in the following chapter as Alec’s language towards Tess becomes more and more harsh he shouts, “Remember, my lady, I was your master once! I will be your master again” (336). The reference to Tess as a slave solidifies her position as a subordinate to Alec and all other men. It is also at this point that Tess herself admits her submission to society claiming, “Once a victim, always victim–that’s the law!” (336). Through the power of the dominant male character of Alec, Tess submits and accepts her place in society as a victim. Even after his sexual conquest of Tess is complete, Alec abuses his power, treating Tess like a possession instead of a human.
Unlike the Durbeyfields and Alec, Angel Clare has a much more indirect role on the submission of Tess. Up until their separation, Angel is one of the few positive influences on Tess in the entire novel. Even after Tess tells him about her past, Angel tries not to hurt Tess. Although his inflexible morals and desertion to Brazil may cause more hardship for Tess than any other single event, Angel’s actions never lead to the submission of the heroin. However, Tess’ relationship with Angel provides important insight into how other parties, as well as the social beliefs of the time, have shaped her into a character submissive to any authority she may encounter. This concept is illustrated as Angel sleepwalks while carrying Tess across a river and places her in an empty coffin. Although Angel’s actions put both he and Tess in great danger as they cross the river, Tess is completely submissive to her husband. This unquestioning submission provides further evidence that Tess is a blameless character and her tragedy is representative of all woman of the era.
Based on her position in society as a woman, there seems to be little Tess can do to avoid submitting to men. The double standard of the time used to judge men and women gives Tess no chance at rise above the oppression that rules her life. This idea is discussed by Mary Jacobus as she states, “A sustained campaign of rehabilitation makes Tess’s so blatant a case of double standard of sexual morality applied to men and women, and Tess herself is so blameless, the tragedy of the ordinary becomes the tragedy of the exceptional- blackening both man and fate in the process.” This indictment of men as the source of Tess’s tragedy and the idea Tess is blameless suggest the submission of Tess is used by Hardy to shed light on the plight of woman during the Victorian Era.
Hardy’s greatest critique regarding the submission of women is not men, represented by John Durbeyfield, Alec d’Urberville, and Angel Clare, but the society that condones their actions. Through the conflict between Tess and the men in her life Hardy discusses a wide variety of problems with Victorian society. Besides his literal critique of the position of women in society, Hardy uses the conflict between Tess and other characters to represent other problems of the time. On such example is discussed in the introduction to the novel by Lisa Alther stating that “Tess’s life is one of endless toil, and no other novelist writes so convincingly about the grueling demands of farm labor… Alec’s violation of Tess parallels the violation of her region’s age-old way of life by city-based industrialists, who were introducing mechanized farming (such as the threshing machine Tess feeds at Flintcomb-Ash), buying up family farms, and transforming agriculture.” The submission of Tess to Alec represents not only the sexual double standard of the time, but in a more figurative sense the fall of family farms and the rise of the industrial revolution. Hardy suggests that just as it is impossible for Tess to avoid Alec’s advances rural agriculture cannot survive with the advance of mechanization. The appearance of the threshing machine in the field after Alec tells Tess he will again be her master suggests that, like Tess, the land is submissive to this new form of agriculture.
Although generally submissive, there are points throughout the novel in which Tess struggles against her oppressors. Tess’s strength contradicts the expected role of women of the time. The baptism of Sorrow is the first evidence of Tess’s rejection of social norms. Tess rejects the idea that she and her baby are outcasts with this symbolic act. With her stand against society Hardy describes Tess, “Her figure looked singularly tall and imposing as she stood in her long white nightgown, a thick cable of twisted dark hair hanging strait down her back to her waist” (94). This vivid description of Tess suggests that within her there is power; although this power is suppressed by society, it is occasionally presented to the world. When Alec approaches Tess in the field after his return to the novel she, “…passionately swung the glove by the gauntlet directly in his face” (336). This violence towards a man strongly contradicts the views a Victorian woman and represents the struggle of all women to fight back against the double standard that controls them. Tess’ struggle to fight back against Alec reaches a climax with his murder. Her subsequent execution portrays Tess as a martyr for the plight of woman and her death frees her from the submissive position society forces her into.
Throughout the novel Tess is used as a pawn by others, exploited because of her economic value, sexuality, and her inferior position in society as a woman. Subservient to the idea of an ideal Victorian woman and the men in her life, she is used as a representative of the plight of all women. Hardy’s idea of the sexual double standard in Tess’s society is seen in each of her relationships. This inescapable inequality is the root of Tess’s unfortunate fate. Despite her attempts, only death can bring her freedom and happiness. Hardy’s extension of Tess’ subservience to metaphorically illustrate the fall England’s rural past and the danger of the industrial revolution represented by Alec serves as a warning to all of society of what the future may hold. The critique of Victorian society in Tess of the d’Urbervilles champions the rights of women.
1. Jacobus, Mary, Tess: The Making of a Pure Woman; in: Harold Bloom (ed.): Modern Critical Interpretations; p. 49
2. Lisa Alther. Introduction to Tess of the d’Urbervilles. New York: New American Library, 1999
Ironic Situations Present in Jude the Obscure
In his work, Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy tells the tale of two people hopelessly in love, fighting against both internal and external conflicts to pursue that love and have some semblance of a normal life together. Set in England in the late 19th century, this story is about Jude and Sue’s struggle to overcome the harsh pressures of society’s strict class structure in order to live their lives together. From the day they meet, Jude and Sue experience countless setbacks that prevent them from attaining happiness. Though their bond is very strong and it appears that they are meant for each other, the pair is unable to remain together. Interestingly enough, many of the disasters that befall this ill-fated couple and the predicaments with which they are forced to deal are ironic. Hardy strategically uses irony in a subtle way throughout Jude the Obscure to develop the book’s overall marriage theme.
The first way in which Hardy uses irony in correlation with the marriage theme is through the two main characters’ own personal experiences with marriage. Jude Fawley was slyly tricked into marrying Arabella at a very young age after she told him that she was pregnant with his child and had nowhere else to turn. This relationship quickly fell apart after Jude discovered that there was no child on the way and he realized that a life with Arabella would be an unhappy, confined existence in which he wanted no part. In a similar situation, Sue Bridehead was wed to Jude’s childhood schoolmaster, Richard Phillotson, also at a young age. This marriage was based more on convenience for Sue than it was on love, for Phillotson promised a sound financial future for his new wife. Sue entered into this union because she saw no other sensible candidate for marriage. Eventually, the commitments that Jude and Sue made to Arabella and Phillotson served as enormous barriers standing in the way of their lives together, causing both emotional heart ache and social alienation. The irony in this situation is quite profound. Neither Jude nor Sue truly wanted to be married to their mates, but rather wanted to follow their hearts and marry each other. They both married out of necessity and, ironically, it was these very marriages that kept them from starting a real family together. Hardy, by using this clever device, hints to his audience about implications of marriage and the effect it has on peoples’ lives.
In an effort to further develop the marriage theme throughout the book, Hardy uses irony again regarding the children of Jude and Sue. The first child that comes into their lives is Little Jude, also known as “Little Father Time” or just “Time”. This child, ironically, is not even Sue’s. He is the byproduct of Jude’s dysfunctional marriage to Arabella, his very existence unbeknownst to Jude until the days immediately prior to his arrival. Little Jude, therefore, stands as a constant reminder to Sue of the illegitimate nature of her relationship with Jude, as if she did not have enough reasons to doubt that relationship beforehand. The child situation is further complicated after the birth of two more children, both mothered by Sue this time. This does not appear to be a problem until Little Jude, acting in what he believes to be a noble manner, kills his two siblings and himself in an effort to solve the problems facing Jude and Sue. Through the horror of this catastrophe, the irony of the situation is still clear. The child of Jude’s first marriage is responsible for the death of Sue’s only children. Not only did Little Jude’s actions take the lives of Jude’s two children, but they also caused the downfall of his quasi-marriage to Sue. These events, like a message from the heavens, serve as constant reminders to both Jude and Sue that they cannot be married to two people, stressing the marriage theme even more.
Finally, to help develop his overall theme, Hardy uses irony in the very nature of Jude’s relationship with Sue. After a long, arduous relationship that eventually fails, Jude finds the one person with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life. Sue feels the same way about Jude. But after they both find their soul-mates, by some ironic twist of fate, they turn out to be completely wrong for each other; doomed from the start. Their first problem is the very nature of their connection: they are first cousins. Even the idea of having anything more than a platonic relationship with a cousin was seriously frowned upon by the strict, almost prude Victorian society of the time. Sue admits, “It depends on the sort of love; and yours-ours-is wrong” (Hardy, 345). This resulted in both Jude and Sue being practically shunned by society, which made finding work and lodgings quite difficult. To add to the irony of the situation, Jude and Sue are also from a family that is said to be cursed when it comes to marriage. So, doomed by both fate and society, the two lovers are not able to stay together, but forced to live out the rest of their miserable lives with people they do not love.
In Jude the Obscure, there is one constant theme that rises above all the rest in significance. That theme is marriage. Throughout this novel, marriage is an issue that receives constant attention, playing a huge role in each of the main characters’ lives. Hardy, in an attempt to develop this overall theme throughout, uses irony in several key situations the characters face. By using irony subtly in these situations, Hardy is able to not only develop his theme, but he is also able to make a point about life in general. The truth is that life is not always fair. As the reader sees time and time again with Jude and Sue, things do not always end happily. Some things are not meant to be, like Jude and Sue. Regardless of their efforts, the two are unable to make their relationship work. As Sue puts it, “All the ancient wrath of the Power has been vented upon us… and we must submit” (Hardy, 342).
Tom Hardy – a versatile actor and producer
Tom Hardy knew he always had the talent inside of him and would go to extra miles to achieve his dreams of becoming an actor. Hardy had his big break in 2001 with the movie Band of Brothers and has remained on top since then. The actor and producer is known for a lot of hit movies which include; Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Trek: Nemesis, The Drop, The Revenant, and many others. Hardy’s success story is a must hear for any aspiring actor or entertainer hoping to make it big in the competitive industry. Here are lesser known facts about the talented actor.
He was born Edward Thomas Hardy in Hammersmith, London, on September 15, 1977, to his parents Anne and Edward ‘Chips’ Hardy. Being an only child of his parents, they did everything possible to give their son a sound upbringing. But this did not mean Hardy would be restrained from pursuing his career of interest. He attended Tower House School, and Reed’s School before proceeding to Duff Miller Sixth Form College.
Hardy who was always inclined to act, enrolled at Richmond Drama School as well as the Drama Centre in London to be well trained and groomed in acting. Joining the Drama Centre in 1998, He made his debut in the 2001 Steve Spielberg series Band of Brothers which won several awards and earned lots of recognition. His promising career blossomed in the early 2000s, as he featured in hit movies after his remarkable performance in ‘BandBrothers’.In 202, he starred in the Sci-Fi, Star Trek: Nemesis, playing the character of Praetor Shinzon.
He appeared in the movie Dot the i in 2003. Afterwards, Hardy travelled to Morocco in North Africa to shoot the film Simon. He then returned back for the horror film LD 50 Lethal Dose. He made an appearance in the play In Arabia We’d All Be Kings which was performed in London in 2003. For his performance in the play, Hardy won the 2003 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for ‘Outstanding Newcomer’. In 2005 Tom Hardy featured in the series ‘The Virgin Queen’. In 2007 he got the lead role in BBC Two’s Stuart: A Life Backwards. The following year, he landed another role in the crime thriller WΔZ as a drug addict and rapist.
In 2008, Tom Hardy starred in the movie Bronson, which was a true life story of Charles Bronson the prisoner. To play this role, the actor had to put on 19kg weight to fit the unusual character of the prisoner. Also in 2009, he featured in the drama ‘The Take’.
The actor indeed made a name for himself from his debut in the early 2000s till the first decade was over. Hardy opened the second decade of the 2000s with the sports drama Warrior(2011) where he played a martial artist. In 2012, he starred in the superhero movie The Dark Knight Rises, which was the final sequel of The Dark Knight Trilogy.
2015 has been the busiest year so far for Tom Hardy. The actor who shot five movies first starred in Child 44 as a police agent. He then starred as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road. Hardy’s next 2015 movie was in Legend where he played a double role as Reggie and Ronnie Kray, who were London gangsters. His next movie for 2015 was The Revenant where he starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. It has been announced that the Hardy will star in Marvel Comics superhero movie Venom in 2018.
Tom Hardy need not blow his trumpet in terms of his finances. His notable movies alone are enough to prove that the star is definitely above average in terms of earnings and financial status. Hardy sits on an enviable net worth of $30 million which he mostly makes from his movies. This amount could become a trifling figure in the coming years as the actor is just swimming into the climax of his career.
No matter how hard Hardy tries, he can never keep his life away from the prying eyes of the media.
He was first married to Sarah War, a producer in 1999. The marriage, however, lasted for five years and the couple divorced in 2004. He began a relationship with Linda Park although it was short-spanned. Tom was also in a relationship with Rachael Speed, an assistant director with whom he had a son in 2008. The couple who met on set of The Virgin Queen in 2005, split in 2009.
Hardy married again in 2014 to Charlotte Riley, an actress whom he met on the set of Wuthering Heights. They had their first child in October 2015.
Hardy seems to have an enigmatic personal life just as his on-screen personality. Its no longer news that the talented Tom Hardy is clad in weird and creepy tattoos which have become of a juicy topic of discussion among his fans. The reality of this issue is that hardy indeed likes tattoos like every other tattoo freak out there. But there’s something different about Hardy, his tattoos always speak about his endeavors, life and career.
For instance, the Mad Max actor got a ‘Leo Knows All’ tattoo on his arm. By Leo, he was referring to his colleague Leonardo DiCaprio whom he lost a bet to. Tom had had a bet with ‘Leo’ that he (Leonardo) would not win an Academy for the movie, The Revenant. But as we know, DiCaprio indeed clinched a prestigious award on the platform causing doubtful Hardy to engrave the ‘Leo Knows All’ tattoo on his arm. The actor got his first tattoo – the leprechaun which had to do with his Irish heritage – at the age of 15.
Bearing in mind his several relationships with women, it may seem wrong to raise speculations about the actor’s sexuality. But after Tom hardy shut down a reporter who asked about his sexuality these talks made their way to the media. But to state the facts, the actor has never made any confirmation about his sexuality.