Look closely at the incident in the chase when Tess is raped/seduced by Alec D’Urberville. What do we learn here about the nature of Tess’s fate in the novel? Consider Hardy’s characterisation of Tess and his manipulation of the narrative.
In this extract, Alec takes advantage of Tess, and rides her into to the woods. Tess is upset and drunk and Alec takes this as an opportunity to take advantage of Tess.
“In that moment of oblivion she sank gently against him”.
This quote shows that Tess can be vulnerable at times, it shows weakness, and even though she is trying to resist Alec she still for that moment relies on him to be there and to comfort her at that time when she needed someone. It shows that she needs someone to lean on, but Alec takes advantage.
“I mean no harm, only to stop you from falling”.
Hardy tries to make the reader feel as though Alec is really genuine, as though for that moment he means no harm, as though he is there to comfort her, where as in actual fact is only trying to buy her trust so something will happen, but it doesn’t so he decides to take advantage.
“I don’t know, I wish, how can I say yes or no when”.
Alec asks Tess if he can treat her as a lover, however Tess is disgusted, but before she can get her words out, Alec interrupts and settles the matter by putting his arm around her, and for some reason Tess showed no more signs of disgust, and just accepted Alec.
“Please set me down and let me walk home”.
Just as Alec had gained Tess’s trust he makes one wrong move, and Tess asks him to let her off the hors and let her walk home, at this point it shows that Tess is in control of the situation, however Alec talks her round, and makes her see the situation logically.
“…with a painful sense of awkwardness of having to thank him just then”
D’urberville tells Tess that he has been sending money to her family, to get her back into his trust, she is deeply moved by this, the quote illustrates that Tess is thankful of the ride, but it is too difficult for her to say to him.
“She passively sat down on the coat that he had spread”.
This illustrates that Tess is trying to avoid the presence of Alec, she knows that he had laid the coat down with the intention that she would sit on it, however Tess is trying to tell Alec that she is not interested, in the politest way that she can.
“Swallowed as he poured, to prevent the catastrophe she feared”.
This quote shows perfectly Tess’s feelings towards Alec, as Alec pours the liquor down Tess’s throat, she tries to persist, this is also what has happened whilst they have been riding on the horse. Alec has been trying to catch Tess’s affection, but Tess has been trying to avoid it, however not successfully, this is exactly what is happening in this moment.
“Which represented the white muslin figure he had left upon the dead leaves”.
This quote uses colour imagery, with the white muslin. It shows that Tess is still a girl, she is innocent and vulnerable, it also shows that Alec has power over Tess, he did her a favour by helping out her family, now she must show that she is grateful and kiss him.
“Hidden by the vales, so his actions are covered”.
It shows that the act is too dark for anyone to see, it has been hidden by the bushes, it can be unleashed onto human eyes.
“But where was Tess’s guardian Angel”.
It represents that Tess needs looking after, and that the rape is an act of satan, it is a hellish thing to do to another human being.
“The hands of the spoiler.”
It shows that through this one act, Alec has ruined her whole life, he has been the catalyst for all things that go wrong for Tess in the novel, he has stolen her purity and innocence.
“It is scorned by human nature.”
It is beyond an average human act, this act is too vicious for a human, it is the work of some sort of hellish beast.
“Blank as snow”.
Again colour imagery, although white is not mentioned, the snow represents the purity and innocence of Tess.