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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'Urbervilles


by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Theme of Man and the Natural World

Hardy's very interested in the relationship of women to nature, in particular. In Tess of the D'Urbervilles, women are more in touch with the earth than men are, and are able to melt into the landscape and become one with the land in a way that men cannot. Being able to stay in touch with the natural rhythms of the earth is obviously something that Hardy values in this novel.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. In the world of this novel, is civilization always a negative force?
  2. Does Angel belong with the side of civilization, or of Nature?
  3. Why does the arrest scene take place at Stonehenge?
  4. Hardy often emphasizes the ancientness of the valleys and forests he describes—"Blackmoor Valley," for example, was once covered in an ancient forest, and "The Chase" is the remnant of that primeval forest. Why should Nature be associated with the time-out-of-mind ancient?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Hardy often juxtaposes images of ancient nature with emblems of modern civilization to suggest that the progress of time is not uniform.

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