Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Justice and Judgment Quotes
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All material objects around announced their irresponsibility with terrible iteration. And yet nothing had changed since the moments when he had been kissing her; or rather, nothing in the substance of things. But the essence of things had changed. (35.2)
After Tess confesses to Angel, his inner world goes all topsy-turvy. Everything he ever knew, or thought he knew, has to be re-evaluated. Tess isn't the person he thought she was (or is she?). But of course his state of inner agitation and confusion isn't reflected in the outside world – the room itself, and all the "material objects around" them, stay the same. The world itself is utterly indifferent to what's going on in the hearts and minds of these two people. They're both utterly alone.
The fireplace confronted him with its extinct embers; the spread supper-table, whereon stood the two full glasses of untasted wine, now flat and filmy; her vacated seat and his own; the other articles of furniture, with their eternal look of not being able to help it, their intolerable inquiry of what was to be done? (36.1)
When Angel wakes up the morning after Tess's confession, his whole world has collapsed. All his perceptions of Tess seem to have been wrong, and his whole outlook on life seems to fall apart. And yet the room itself looks just the same – the supper that they never ate is still sitting there. The inanimate objects around him, like the furniture, are still the same as ever, and their sameness, after the collapse of everything he ever thought he knew, seems almost to mock him.
She could not have borne their pity, and their whispered remarks to one another upon her strange situation; though she would almost have faced a knowledge of her circumstances by every individual there, so long as her story had remained isolated in the mind of each. It was the interchange of ideas about her that made her sensitiveness wince. (41.13)
Tess doesn't mind the idea of each person at Talbothays dairy knowing what happened to her, individually, but she hates the idea of them gossiping about her. People aren't to be feared individually – as individuals, they can pity and understand one another. But as a group, as a society, they are to be feared because they form social laws and conventions, and judge more severely.