Tess of the D'Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[The women] were the most interesting of this company of binders, by reason of the charm which is acquired by woman when she becomes part and parcel of outdoor nature, and is not merely an object set down therein as at ordinary times. A field-man is a personality afield; a field-woman is a portion of the field; she has somehow lost her own margin, imbibed the essence of her surrounding, and assimilated herself with it. (14.10)
Once again, the narrator suggests that women can become one with nature. Women have some inherent, natural quality that allows them to "assimilate" themselves with "outdoor nature," that men lack. This passage hearkens back to the earlier scene describing the women's club-walking at Marlott (2.6), which was just a modern form of the feminine celebration of the nature goddess, Ceres. There's a connection between women and nature that is an inherent aspect of their femininity.
It was impossible for even an enemy to feel [that Tess was unattractive] on looking at Tess as she sat there, with her flower-like mouth and large tender eyes, neither black nor blue nor gray nor violet; rather all those shades together, and a hundred others, which could be seen if one looked into their irises – shade behind shade – tint beyond tint – round depths that had no bottom; an almost typical woman, but for the slight incautiousness of character inherited from her race. (14.24).
Hardy just loves describing Tess's physical appearance. Her mouth, her eyes, her – ahem – "womanly fullness." This description of her eyes makes them seem almost supernatural: they just go on and on. Why describe her eyes in this way? They're not just "bedroom eyes." They show how complex her character is. She's unusual, and her complexity is what makes her unique.
[W]omen whose chief companions are the forms and forces of outdoor Nature retain in their souls far more of the Pagan fantasy of their remote forefathers than of the systematized religion taught their race at later date. (16.16)
Again, women are connected with old, primaeval, Pagan religion, and "outdoor Nature," while men are (implicitly) connected with the "systematized," man-made religion that came later.