The central character in this chapter is Tess, and Hardy reveals to the readers how Tess’s guilt leads her to Alec, who has a lot more on his mind then just helping Tess’s family. Tess is very beautiful and men are always pursuing her, either for purely sexual reasons or because she represents an excitingly unformed life waiting to be molded. The landscape and Tess are often described similarly, and the seasons and the weather reflect her emotional and physical state.
The naturalistic imagery that Hardy uses is an important component of his style, which is characterized both by beautiful descriptive passages and by more philosophical or abstract asides detailing the ironies of his characters’ lives and fates. The countryside is almost a character in Tess. Much of the time the settings reflect what’s happening to Tess and the characters that influence her life. Each station or place where Tess stops is a testing place for her soul.
Nature also reflects the characters’ emotions and fortunes. For example, when Tess is happy, the sky is blue and birds sing. When events turn out badly the earth appears harsh and coldly indifferent to her agony. Nature is also depicted in the many journeys that take place in Tess. Both traveling and the rhythms of nature are seen as causing fatigue in the novel. Hardy focuses very heavily on Tess’s reactions to the events around her and shows us the world more or less through her eyes.
In this chapter Tess, convinced she has murdered Prince, feels responsible for her family’s subsequent lack of livelihood and therefore complies with Joan’s wish that she go in search of their rich relations Tess seems older than her years in her willingness to accept adult responsibilities, but she’s also very naive and inexperienced.
The beginning of Chapter 5 opens up with the situation where Hardy stresses that there is something bad foreshadowing Tess due to the loss of a family horse.
This is the first hint in this chapter where the reader realizes that sorrow and pain may follow Tess in the near future. The haggling business, which had mainly depended on the horse, became disorganized forthwith. Distress, if not penury, loomed in the distance’ This distress looms in the distance because of the death of the horse. Joan Durbeyfield tells Tess about Mrs. d’Urberville living on the outskirts of The Chase, and tells Tess that she must go and claim kinship and ask for help. Tess is deferential, but she cannot understand why her mother should find such satisfaction in contemplating this venture.
Tess suggests getting work instead, but finally agrees to go. Tess’ mother seems to be a strong guiding force within Tess, although Tess’ father seems laid back. Hardy presents Tess’s mother as vain, not very bright, and a poor manager of the household. Indeed, Tess does much of the work of looking after the many younger Durbeyfield children. Joan Durbeyfield schemes to get Tess to go to Trantridge in the hope that the girl might make a grand marriage with the rich Alec d’Urberville, but she is otherwise shiftless and a fairly inactive mother.
The reader gets the impression that if Tess’ father had been more assertive, than maybe he could have told her not too go. Instead, her mother is very manipulating with the situation Tess is faced with. He is a laborer, unintelligent like Tess’s mother, and he drinks too much and works too little. When he hears that he has noble ancestors, he immediately becomes proud of the fact, and considers himself too good to work very much more. Because he is such a poor provider, the Durbeyfield family is doomed to poverty. Every day seemed to throw upon her young shoulders more of the family burdens, and that Tess should be the representative of the Durbeyfields at the d’Urberville mansion came as a thing of course.
In this instance it must be admitted that the Durbeyfields were putting their fairest side outward’ “Durbeyfield, you can settle it,” said his wife, turning to where he sat in the background. “If you say she ought to go, she will go. ” “I don’t like my children going and making themselves beholden to strange kin,” murmured he. I’m the head of the noblest branch o’ the family, and I ought to live up to it. ” Tess is, perhaps, a striking example of someone forced to grow up too quickly which chapter 5 is a good example of. The death of the Durbeyfield’s horse is the event that motivates Tess to visit the d’Urbervilles and beg them for financial assistance, Tess is in fact sent to find a husband; behind her mother’s request is the assumption that Tess will marry a gentleman who will provide for the Durbeyfields. Mr. and Mrs.
Durbyfield cling to their obsolete idea of the family in total ignorance of the reality, and Tess may suffer as a result. The Durbeyfield parents started the cycle of tragedy in Tess life by thinking of themselves first. Her parents’ weakness is that her father is lazy and her mother is simple. The Durbeyfield’s need of a new horse, and the mother’s greed for her daughter to claim kin against her will with a noble family member of the d’Urbervilles, starts Tess on her journey to her destruction.
Tess’ parents could have supported themselves if they had not been so proud about being descendants of the prestigious d’Urbervilles. Tess, being simplistic, is unaware of dangers a man such as Alec d’Urberville posed, and it is not fair that she is being made to suffer for succumbing to an unknown danger. This is noted when she protests to her mother: Tess’ innocence is at risk her because she is not informed of the dangers of life by her parents; her mother does not even stop her from leaving with Alec, even though she has a feeling that Alec may take advantage of Tess.
The greed for her daughter’s marriage into a noble family has put the wool over her eyes. Hardys’ writing style is simple but wordy here. The sentance structures are not long or very complicated, but the complexity in his work comes from the way he uses several sentences. For example, he uses a lot of imagery and describes the scenery in great detail. While each individual sentence may not be difficult to understand, it is the way the various sentences fit together to form a whole picture. ‘The Vale of Blackmoor was to her the world, and its inhabitants the races thereof.
From the gates and stiles of Marlott she had looked down its length in the wondering days of infancy, and what had been mystery to her then was not much less than mystery to her now. She had hardly ever visited the place, only a small tract even of the Vale and its environs being known to her by close inspection. Much less had she been far outside the valley. Tess leaves for The Chase, where she finds the home of the Stoke-d’Urbervilles, as they are now called. When Tess arrives at the manor house, her first reaction is that it’s strange that such an ancient family has a new and modern home.
The farmlands appear to be kept more for show than for income. The new industrial world seems to be creeping into the countryside. In contrast to this newness is the mysterious primeval forest known as The Chase, which encompasses the d’Urberville estate like an unshakeable shroud. The Chase is so old that it puts Tess’ venerable ancestry to shame. It seems that for Hardy, nothing is as old or as essential as nature. ‘It was of recent erection–indeed almost new–and of the same rich red colour that formed such a contrast with the evergreens of the lodge.
Far behind the corner of the house-which rose like a geranium bloom against the subdued colours around–stretched the soft azure landscape of The Chase–a truly venerable tract of forest land, one of the few remaining woodlands in England of undoubted primaeval date, wherein Druidical mistletoe was still found on aged oaks, and where enormous yew-trees, not planted by the hand of man grew as they had grown when they were pollarded for bows. All this sylvan antiquity, however, though visible from The Slopes, was outside the immediate boundaries of the estate.
Tess notices how inappropriate this modern estate seems for people with such a supposedly ancient background. You’ll notice throughout the novel that often Tess intuitively divines things that she can’t explain or logically act upon. The representation of the cheapening and decay of ancient traditions is one of the many roles of Alec d’Urberville. He is of course not a d’Urberville at all, and Hardy depicts his house in a way, which highlights its modernity, and its disharmony with the natural and ancient surroundings.
It is this aspect of the visit to the d’Urbervilles that disturbs Tess most, highlighting her particular sexual innocence. Hardy introduces the theme of sexuality and innocence; at this point in the novel, Tess represents a particular sexual innocence. She is unaware of her own sexuality and thus cannot perceive the danger that Alec d’Urberville presents to her. Tess is very wary, and she has no idea what to expect. The situation is an embarrassing one, but Tess’ guilt has driven her their, so now she feels it’ her obligation for the family.
Her guilt and naivity could cause Tess problems as Hardy indicates. “I thought we were an old family; but this is all new! ” she said, in her artlessness. She wished that she had not fallen in so readily with her mother’s plans for “claiming kin,” and had endeavoured to gain assistance nearer home. ” A young man with an almost swarthy complexion answers the door, and claims to be Alec d’Urberville. He does not allow Tess to see his mother, for she is an invalid, but she tells him that she is a poor relation. Alec shows her the estate, and he promises that his mother will find a berth for her.
He tells her not to bother with the Durbeyfield name, but she says she wishes for no better. Alec prepares to kiss her, but lets her go. Tess perceives nothing, but if she had, she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man. From Alec’s introduction in the novel, Alec d’Urberville represents a sexuality that contrasts with Tess Durbeyfield’s innocence. However, as important as his sexuality is the danger inherent in his sensuality. His early attempt to seduce Tess only serves to foreshadow later, more serious attempts to infringe on his cousin’s innocence.
Hardy even explicitly notes the danger that Alec d’Urberville poses to Tess. Alec is presented a typical Victorian rake, and indeed seems somewhat stereotyped at times, with his curled moustache and melodramatic phrases to seduce Tess. He is deceptive and often cruel to Tess, though he can be kind to her as well; he seems to follow whatever plan seems most likely to succeed, for he has a genuine lust for her. He is rich and morally corrupt. His moral hollowness is underscored by the fact that his claim to the d’Urberville name is completely spurious and false, like everything else about him.
Of course Tess is ignorant of the fact that these d’Urbervilles are frauds and consequently have no familial responsibility to her. When she meets Alec Stoke-d’Urberville she assumes that he’s her cousin and therefore treats him with a certain informality that he takes advantage of. Although Alec promises to make “cousin” Tess’ presence known to his mother, he does nothing of the kind. The historical background that Hardy presents us with shows irony that the rich relations that Tess had come to see only acquired their name, they are not at all family.
Conning for an hour in the British Museum the pages of works devoted to extinct, half-extinct, obscured, and ruined families appertaining to the quarter of England in which he proposed to settle, he considered that d’Urberville looked and sounded as well as any of them: and d’Urberville accordingly was annexed to his own name for himself and his heirs eternally’ ‘Of this work of imagination poor Tess and her parents were naturally in ignorance–much to their discomfiture; indeed, the very possibility of such annexations was unknown to them; who supposed that, though to be well-favoured might be the gift of fortune, a family name came nature. After Tess’ doubts from her first thoughts of the house her relations live in, Tess is very unsure weather to approach the house or not. Hardy shows Tess’ innocence and how Tess is often led by her head, instead of not following her gut feelings.
Her reluctance is outweighed by her sense of a duty to make reparation for the loss of the horse – a virtuous motive – and the obstinate insistence of her mother. Tess is trapped; her freedom of choice is curtailed by a combination of ‘the fates’, (the death of the horse and the discovery of family connections), and filial duty. Tess still stood hesitating like a bather about to make his plunge, hardly knowing whether to retreat or to persevere, when a figure came forth from the dark’ ‘He had an almost swarthy complexion, with full lips, badly moulded, though red and smooth, above which was a well-groomed black moustache with curled points, though his age could not be more than three-or four-and-twenty. Despite the touches of barbarism in his contours, there was a singular force in the gentleman’s face, and in his bold rolling eye. ‘ Hardy presents Alec as been smarmy, very overpowering and insistent.
Tess’ picture of expectations of Alec that Tess had built up in her mind prior to the visit is very different to what Tess is presented with in reality. ‘This embodiment of a d’Urberville and a namesake differed even more from what Tess had expected than the house and grounds had differed. She had dreamed of an aged and dignified face, the sublimation of all the d’Urberville lineaments, furrowed with incarnate memories representing in hieroglyphic the centuries of her family’s and England’s history. But she screwed herself up to the work in hand, since she could not get out of it, and answered’
Tess is a very pretty, young and attractive but is unaware of this. Alec, already on their first meeting acts as if Tess is something he owns. “Well, my Beauty, what can I do for you? ” Keeping Tess’ presence secret, he fills her mouth with strawberries and her basket with roses. “She obeyed like one in a dream. ” Why does the shy Tess submit, though somewhat reluctantly, to such intimacies? Although Hardy never tells us explicitly, he suggests many reasons. First Tess believes that Alec is her cousin and that kin are more likely to protect than harm her.
Hardy also shows us how completely awed Tess is by the unfamiliar richness of her new surroundings. She seems assaulted by sensations, not the least of which are Alec’s passionate advances. Tess is probably caught in such a whirlwind of impressions that she follows where she’s led. ‘Tess wished to abridge her visit as much as possible; but the young man was pressing, and she consented to accompany him. He conducted her about the lawns, and flower-beds, and conservatories; and thence to the fruit-garden and greenhouses, where he asked her if she liked strawberries’.
Alec becomes very pressing and imposing toward Tess, and Hardy uses the walk of Alec showing Tess around the gardens as an opportunity to hint to the readers maybe of Alec’s intentions. He wants to spend time with her and chat her up and he does this by flattering her and showering her with gifts of nature. “They are already here. ” D’Urberville began gathering specimens of the fruit for her, handing them back to her as he stooped; and, presently, selecting a specially fine product of the “British Queen” variety, he stood up and held it by the stem to her mouth.
No–no! ” she said quickly, putting her fingers between his hand and her lips. “I would rather take it in my own hand. ” “Nonsense! ” he insisted; and in a slight distress she parted her lips and took it in. Hardy does this to again show how Tess is easily led and very easily pleased by the simplest of things. Tess is maybe not used to so much attention and gifts, so she is captured by the moment. Tess feels very powerless and guilty. Tess is also not aware of men and how they can manipulate and take advantage of women.
Hardy maybe having another dig at Tess’s parents, and how she has been told very little about life. ‘She obeyed like one in a dream, and when she could affix no more he himself tucked a bud or two into her hat, and heaped her basket with others in the prodigality of his bounty’ Hardy uses the symbols of the strawberry and roses as a sexual indication to the readers. This creates a very awkward situation for Tess. This part of the chapter is presented as been very suggestive and a very passionate part of the chapter.
Alec is almost acting like something from a fairytale, like little red riding hood as he fills her little basket towards Tess and she is certainly trapped by the ‘big, bad wolf’ character that Alec comes across as. ‘one who stood fair to be the blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life. She had an attribute which amounted to a disadvantage just now; and it was this that caused Alec d’Urberville’s eyes to rivet themselves upon her. It was a luxuriance of aspect, a fulness of growth, which made her appear more of a woman than she really was’
There is a strong sense given to the reader that Tess is more developed in physical appearance than mentally. I think Hardy gives a link between the strawberries and roses and likens them to Tess in the way that the strawberries and roses are artificially moved on in the green house, like Tess been forced by her parent to grow up to soon, almost ripe before their time. Although Tess appears mature, she is nai?? ve and not able to defend her self against Alec, who is devious and has more experience with life.
The blood statement used in this part of the chapter’ the blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life’, is I think Hardy hinting to the reader of something bad to come, and that death is not long of Tess and maybe Alec would be a part of ruining Tess’s innocence. ‘For a moment–only for a moment–when they were in the turning of the drive, between the tall rhododendrons and conifers, before the lodge became visible, he inclined his face towards her as if–but, no: he thought better of it, and let her go’. Alec has already decided on a plan in which to get Tess.
Hardy has already suggested a number of times in the way Alec looks and admires Tess that he feels attracted to her young, nai?? ve, striking look Tess has about her. Alec knows he has to be careful in the way he goes about this, and I think he decides to kiss her, but doesn’t think the timing is quite right, after all he doesn’t want to scare her off. There is also a strong sense of entrapment that Hardy conveys, as if to let the reader know that Tess has made a very wrong move in visiting Alec, but is now trapped in the situation.
Had she perceived this meeting’s import she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects’ Hardy uses time as an arch instrument of Fate, but it operates within the bounds of credibility and as a powerful aid to distinction in Tess. I think Hardy, in this chapter is showing how woman is Fate’s most important instrument for opposing man’s happiness. Hardy shows that Tess is helpless in the hands of Fate and carries out Fate’s work.