Hardy’s use of Pathetic Fallacy
In Chapter 20 in particular, the natural environment seems to act as a metaphor for Tess’ character. The chapter begins “The season developed and matured. ” This gives the impression that the surroundings have, at the very least, womanly qualities, and it seems sensible, therefore to apply this to Tess in light of Hardy’s defence of her purity and womanhood. Much of this chapter centres on description and nature, and Tess herself is effortlessly woven into both of these.
Hardy uses the metaphor of a river to describe Tess and Angel’s early experiences of one another: All the while they were converging, under an irresistible law, as surely as two streams in one vale. ” As Tess has already mean shown as a very natural being in previous parts of the novel, this implies that she is drawing Angel towards her in a way that causes him to become more ‘of nature’ as well. Hardy alludes to the idea that this is the beginning of something, commenting on the couple’s forth coming relationship before it has begun: “The grey half-tones of daybreak are not the grey half-tones of the day’s close, though their degree of shade may be the same.
This seems to capture the feeling of warmth and contentment at the beginning of a love affair. This reappears as a sentiment later in the novel, in the fact that although before Tess’ death the couple are brought closer together and feel passion for each other once again, the never seem to recapture the love that they felt when they started out together; as if their courtship and marriage are the passing of just one day, in which Chapter 20 signifies the early morning. This also reiterates Hardy’s message of fate; that Tess’ death is as inevitable as the setting of the sun.
Angel’s reification of Tess, later in the chapter, strengthens the idea of Tess being at one with nature: “He called her Artemis, Demeter”. Demeter is the Greek goddess of nature, ‘the bringer of seasons’ and the preserver of marriage and sacred law. Chapter 47 is very different from this, it describes the “threshing of the last wheat rick at Flint-comb Ash Farm”. There is a strong sense of negativity and hopelessness within this chapter, an effective use of pathetic fallacy illustrating Tess’ situation in this part of her life.
The chapter also serves to demonstrate one of Hardy’s themes, his disapproval of the mechanisation of the agricultural industry. Firstly, the negativity of the scene is overwhelming. “The dawn of the March morning is singularly inexpressive, and there is nothing to show where the eastern horizon lies. ” This ties together with the repetitive nature of the work, creating a wholly depressing scene. “It was the ceaselessness of the work which tried her severely, and began to make her wish she had ever come to Flintcomb-Ash.
And “For Tess there was no respite; for, as the drum never stopped, the man who fed it could not stop, and she… could not stop either. ” Hardy draws strong comparisons between the threshing machine and the devil, calling it “the red tyrant the women had come to serve”. However it is not always the machinery itself that Hardy resents, there is also a lengthy description of the engineer who operates the thresher within Chapter 47. He is described as being “in the agricultural world, but not of it. ” And “hardly perceiving the scenes around him, and caring for them not at all.
This comes across as almost an offence when compared with Hardy’s other characters, as well as Hardy himself, who relish the landscape of Wessex and are extremely thankful for and protective of it. Hardy also mentions brief dialogues between this man and the others, in which he calls the workers “autochthonous idlers” this makes it clear that the workers are specifically of that area, and have not moved from it, highlighting the fact that the engineer is not “native”, and implying that his very presence mars the purity of the landscape, similarly to the way in which Tess’ past spoils her own purity.
Another chapter that I feel demonstrates Hardy’s use of pathetic fallacy is Chapter 58. In this section of the novel, Angel and Tess are on the run from the law after Tess murders Alec. The tone of the chapter is largely fatalistic; there is a sense of the inevitability of Tess’ capture, even before it happens. “All around was open loneliness and black solitude, over which a stiff breeze blew. ” There is almost an air of horror when they reach Stonehenge, as if it were foreshadowing the nature of Tess’ forthcoming death.
Even Tess acknowledges the irony of her presence with the druid temple: “you used to say at Talbothays that I was a heathen. So now I am home. ” This seems as if some intervention has caused Tess to happen upon the place that many people would believe (especially within the historically context of the novel) is fitting for her. While Tess sleeps, Angel contemplates the location: “The band of silver paleness along the east horizon made even the distant parts of the Great Plain seem dark and near”.
The threatening disposition of the environment creates a sense of foreboding directly before Angel learns Tess’ fate. This setting bears little resemblance to the biblical locations previously in the novel, such as the Garden of Eden, Heaven or Hell, there is a distinct feeling that there is some kind of presence here. Is Hardy painting the image of a limbo-type place for Tess, as she is no longer pure enough for Heaven, but he cannot bear to condemn her to hell?