'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' - regional writers 4 - Genre, Structure and Language

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 06-06-18 16:23
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  • 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' - regional writers 4 - Genre, Structure and Language
    • The late Victorian novel
      • A  novel is a long prose narrative that relates human experiences.
      • It has many roots but most critics believe that British novel originated in C18th
      • Critic Jonathan Arac, among others, had described the C19th as the 'age of the novel'
        • Hardy was writing the literary mode of his age.
      • 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' contains elements of the pastoral genre
        • A mode of literature that presents man and nature as living harmoniously.
      • 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' can also be described as a work of realism, with Hardy representing things as they are rather than idealising rural life.
    • The novel's structure
      • Hardy divided his narrative into chapters, and then into longer 'phrases'.
      • The titles of the phases are significant and allow us to trace the fluctuating fortunes of the protagonists
      • Just one phase, the sixth, does not refer directly to Hardy's eponymous character Tess.
        • The 'convert' is Alec who temporarily embraces religion.
      • The narrative is largely relayed in chronological order, with a very occasional flashback to Tess's childhood or to Angel's life in Brazil.
    • Narrative perspective
      • Hardy uses a third person, omniscient narrator. Although Tess is the focaliser or main perspective, the narrative also has the privilege of knowing the thoughts of all characters.
      • Hardy includes authorial intrusions to call our attention away from Tess's story to wider issues, such as injustice and fate.
      • The tone of the novel can be sceptical and even anti-religious at times.
        • To Tess, God is a 'vague ethical being'
      • The narrator is heterodiegetic (not involved with with the story) but appears biased in Tess's favour.
        • e.g. at the end, 'Justice' is treated ironically
    • Direct speech
      • Dialogue makes the reader feel they are present when a scene in the novel is taking place, witnessing an actual conversation.
      • Hardy uses dialect to root his novel in Wessex (Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire) and to delineate social class.
      • Tess's accent changes as the novel progresses
        • she begins by speaking in dialect despite her education but contact with Angel makes her speak 'fluently'
      • Hardy also creates drama by relaying conversations that Tess overhears, such as those between her parents.
    • Biblical allusions
      • Victorian society was dominated by Christianity, and biblical references pervade 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'
      • Alec offering Tess fruit in his garden recalls the narrative of temptation in Eden in Genesis
      • The reference to the Var river as 'the pure River of Life' from Revelation 22 emphasises that Tess has an opportunity for a new life.
      • The reading from Proverbs 31 by Angel's father helps the reader to evaluate what it means for a woman to be 'prized'


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