Tess Of The D'Urbervilles
This masterpiece is beautiful constructed. 1. A QUESTION OF ANCESTRY. Most of the elements of the novel are set in place. From the moment Parson Tringham suggests to Tess’s father that he may be descended from a noble family, Tess’s life changes. She meets Angel for the first time at the May dance, where, to her slight irritation, he dances with other girls, missing her out. The section ends when Tess’s negligence leads to the death of Price, the Durbeyfield horse - who is also the family’s breadwinner. Listen for the description of price’s of death and see how elsewhere in the novel-most notably in track 9, at Sandbourne - the image of blood comes up again and again. 2. AT TRANTRIDGE. Tess is persuaded by her family to go to Trantridge to find what they believe to be another branch of the family. Mrs Stoke d’Urberville offers work to Tess, who then encounters her seducer, Alec, for the first time. Hardy takes pains to point out that Alec is not related to Tess at all- his family merely acquired the d’Urberville name - a tragic irony in view of what is about to happen. 3. MAIDEN NO MORE. The seduction marks the end of a sustained campaign by Alec. The scene is full of power and pathos. Imagine ‘the darkness and the silence’ on The Chase that night with only the sound of Tess’s breathing as she lies there asleep in white muslin, the birds roosting in the trees above them. No wonder Hardy asks: ‘where was her guardian angel?’ 4. AT TALBOTHAYS. Back at Marlott, Tess gives birth to the slickly Sorrow. Pathetically, because of his illegitimacy, Tess has to christen him herself - watched by her sister ‘Liza-Lu and her other brothers and sisters - before he dies. Stifled at home and determined to make a new start, she takes a job as a milkmaid at Talbothays Dairy, where she meets Angel again. 5. HALCYON DAYS. Angel pursues Tess as earnestly as Alec did but in a more gentlemanly fashion. He kisses her for the first time and then proposes marriage. Aware of the effect knowledge of the past would have on him, Tess refuses.