Tess of the D'Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
'Pooh – I have as much of mother as father in me!' she said. 'All my prettiness comes from her, and she was only a dairymaid.' (16.7)
Tess is rejecting her patrilineal inheritance – the noble lineage passed down from her father's side, in favor of her matrilineal inheritance from her mother.
The light of the engine flashed for a second upon Tess Durbeyfield's figure, motionless under the great holly tree. No object could have looked more foreign to the gleaming cranks and wheels than this unsophisticated girl, with the round bare arms, the rainy face and hair, the suspended attitude of a friendly leopard at pause, the print gown of no date or fashion, and the cotton bonnet drooping on her brow. (30.20)
Again, past and present are juxtaposed here. Tess represents the past, or perhaps not so much the past, as something timeless: either way, the contrast between her figure and the modern train with its "cranks and wheels" is pretty striking, and Hardy wants to call our attention to it.
[The Slopes] was of recent erection – indeed almost new […] Far behind the bright brick corner of the house […] 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 and 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. (5.21)
Alec D'Urberville's house, called "The Slopes" (what, doesn't your house have a pompous-sounding name?), is fantastically shiny and new. Its modern construction forms a drastic contrast with the ancient, "primaeval" forest of The Chase that stretches out behind the house and lawn. So again, Hardy is contrasting old and new, ancient and modern, pre-industrial and post-industrial. But he takes care to point out that The Chase doesn't belong to The Slopes – the ancient forest of The Chase is "outside the immediate boundaries of the estate." So the modern D'Urberville family doesn't control the forest – no one does.