Discuss the importance of nature in Hardy’s Essay
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Nature was extremely important in the Victorian era, after God and religion, Hardy shows the importance of nature throughout ‘Tess of the D’urbervilles’ by certain techniques of language and structure. Hardy uses nature to explain and portray aspects that happened within the Victorian society, and Tess’s life itself; there is always a underlying piece of information. ‘They followed the way till they reached the beginning of the ascent on the crest of which vehicle from Tantridge was to receive her’ this extract informs us, as readers on several things, not only about Tess but also about the society in the Victorian era.
‘They followed’ in this context Tess is shown to be moving on with her life, and as she is about to move social class, her family are seen as beneath her in this aspect behind her, within the eyes of society itself. The extract goes onto say ‘beginning of the ascent’ this could be interpreted two different ways, either as Tess was moving on with her life, she is experiencing the change from a girl to a woman, a she becomes more independent and leaves her parents behind. However, it could be viewed in society eyes, that Tess is climbing the ascent, from the lower class to the higher class as she goes to meet Alec.
These two interpretations, portray both society and the development of Tess’s character, society could also support the change within Tess, as when a girl becomes to work, she is vied as a woman. Another word in this quote that shows a strong aspect of society and current government threats is the word ‘vehicle’ as this portrays the threat of England and the industrial revolution, as well as presenting the equipment available to the upper class, that isn’t available to the lower class; again nature shows the importance of most things.
At the very end of the quote the words ‘receive her’ presents Tess’s move up the social hierarchy as easy, as the upper class was waiting on her arrival, perhaps hinting that Tess’s appealing appearance and character at first to a stronger, however this hypothesis contrasts to earlier in the book when Tess is described as ‘queer’.
There is another quote that supports the importance of nature, ‘far away behind the first hills the cliff-like dwelling of Shaston broke the line of the ridge’ Here Hardy develops interestingly the split in society between the classes, he uses ‘cliff-like dwelling’ to describe the D’urberville’s highness in society, where as Tess is described to be ‘broke the line of the ridge’ portraying her breaking the line that society places firmly between the lower and upper class.
‘They were just beginning to descend… Down, down, they sped, the wheels humming a top, the dog-cart rocking right and left, its axis acquiring a slightly oblique set’ Hardy informs us on several details throughout this short passage, ‘they sped’, portrays how fast Alec was moving within there relationship, showing nature been used to foreshadowing the future, and also maybe spiraling out of control. ‘the dog-cart rocking right and left’ this is presenting the sexual aspect to the novel and foreshadowing how there relationship will end, leading to the rape/seduction.
This quote finally ends with ‘slightly oblique set’ this concludes nature showing the danger/caution towards Tantridge itself, and nature enhances this. In conclusion, Hardy successful uses nature to portray the underlying details of the novel, informing us on both the aspects of Tess’s character and mind set that has not yet appeared, as well as the society at the time, giving the reader a deeper view. However, all of the parts that nature shows, builds a conclusion that nature is very important in general, and especially within this novel as it explains a great deal of detail to the reader.