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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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)

Quote #7

Their large-veined udders hung ponderous as sandbags, the teats sticking out like the legs of a gipsy's crock; and as each animal lingered for her turn to arrive the milk oozed forth and fell in drops to the ground. (16.26)

If you're thinking that this is kind of a disturbingly sexual description of cow udders, you're right. Nature and fertility are just overflowing onto the ground here. Tess followed the cows into the gate, and arrived when they did, so she's kind of associated with them. Tess, as Hardy has repeatedly assured us, is a very "womanly," (i.e., curvaceous) girl. She, too, seems to just ooze fertility. If you think we're pushing the point, check out the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section.

Quote #8

She was no longer the milkmaid, but a visionary essence of woman – a whole sex condensed into one typical form. (20.10)

In the early morning hours, Tess's beauty seems other-worldly to Angel. They're the only two people awake on the farm, and he can imagine that she's the only woman in the world. And so he condenses every thought and fantasy of what all women are or ever could be, and projects that ideal onto Tess. In other words, he's making her his ideal woman.

Quote #9

He called her Artemis, Demeter, and other fanciful names half teasingly, which she did not like because she could not understand them.
"Call me Tess," she would say askance; and he did. (20.10-11)

Angel thinks Tess is some kind of "Every Woman" – some ideal fantasy of femininity. So he calls her the names of Greek goddesses. But she doesn't like being generalized like that – she can't understand those names, and they detract from her unique individuality. She just wants to be called Tess, and understood for herself.

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