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The Pure Voice In Hardy's Tess Of The D'urbervilles

3023 words - 12 pages

The Pure Voice in Tess of the D'Urbervilles

 
     Thomas Hardy often alludes to his heroine as the "soft and silent Tess."  "Soft" certainly insinuates her beauty, which Harrtainly insinuates her beauty, which Hardy stresses as her downfall.  However, it seems that Tess's silence is the all-pervading reason for her tragedies.  "The two men she encounters in her life steal her voice: one with violence, the other with his own language"(Jacobus 47).  Tess struggles with the damage that these men cause until redeeming herself through innocence.

 

     Hardy, in his portrayal of Tess as "The Maiden," begins with the May Day Dance, where Tess has yet to develop her beauty but wears a red ribbon in her hair, the only girl to do so in the train of "white-frocked maids."  The ribbon signifies what she has that the other girls do not: an inner beauty which will win her-much against her will-the affections of men.  At the sight of her father singing on his way home, the other girls begin to giggle; Tess reprimands them harshly, saying, "Look here; I won't walk another inch with you if you say any jokes about him!"  Herokes about him!"  Her verbal aggressiveness causes the onlookers to follow her wishes.  This is one of the examples of how the maiden Tess was not silent. It also follows that when the fellows that danced with her "became fierce, she rebuked them."  She had no problem saying her mind and sticking to it in this phase.

 

     Tess's conversation with her brother, Abraham, takes place during their midnight ride to deliver hives for her father.  They talk on and on about the stars and the belief that Tess holds that our star is "a blighted one."  Soon Abraham brings up the future planned for Tess, that she will be "made rich by marrying a gentleman."  To this Tess begs Abraham: "Don't talk of that any more!"  After this exclamation, they don't have the banter to keep them awake, and they fall asleep, killing the horse.  This is the first occasion where silence brings about a tragedy.  The guilt ta tragedy.  The guilt that Tess heaps upon herself here is only the first drop in the bucket that she carries around with her for the rest of her life, constantly adding to its weight.  At this point, she regards "herself in the light of a murderess."  This heavily foreshadows the murder to come later in her life.

 

     This guilt convinces Tess that she must now travel to the D'Urbervilles' home and claim kin with them.  Upon meeting Alec, she is shy and ashamed of her purpose.  He tries to feed her a strawberry by holding it up to her mouth.  She blocks him, exclaiming, "No-no!  I would rather take it in my own hand."  But he persists and she relents.  Many advances by Alec are blocked in this way, by both her verbal and physical cues-"I am angry with you sometimes!"  she says, after she tires of his advances.  He wears her down or manipulates her using her family's financial state afamily's financial state as a tool. ...

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