Contrasting Settings in Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles
The setting or settings in a novel are often an important element in the work. Many novels use contrasting places such as cities or towns, to represent opposing forces or ideas that are central to the meaning of the work. In Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the contrasting settings of Talbothays Dairy and Flintcomb-Ash represent the opposing forces of good and evil in Tess' life.
A significant portion of the novel taks place at Talbothays Dairy, which represents the force of good in Tess' life. At Talbothays, the air is "clear, bracing, and ethereal"; the river flows like the " pure River of Life" and the air "set up [Tess'] spirits wonderfully." The author describes the valley as a kind of paradise, with clean, fresh air and a flowing river. Upon entering the region, Tess reaches an emotional high encouraged by the beautiful atmosphere. At Talbothays, the milkers form "a little battalion of men and women," often "singing songs to entice the cows to produce milk." The description of the work atmosphere is almost like Santa's workshop. The men and women work together to accomplish a common goal and Tess is able to escape the prejudices of Victorian England. Talbothays is an important setting in the novel because it represents the peak of Tess' happiness. She not only develops friendships with other milkmaids, but she also falls in love with Angel Clare and eventually marries him at the dairy.
When the relationship between Tess and her husband Angel fails, Tess eventually moves to the dreary and desolate Flintcomb-Ash. In contrast to Talbothays, there is not a single "green pasture" or anything besides "fallow and turnips...