Tess of the d'Urbervilles


Thomas Hardy

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Style 1 key example

Chapter 12
Explanation and Analysis:

Though this novel fits solidly within the genre of realist fiction, Hardy's style is far from simplistic. Using rather inflated prose at times, Tess of the D'Urberville's narrator frequently breaks off from the main plot to raise philosophical quandaries, at times addressing the reader directly. This method of frequent, metaphor-laden abstraction distinguishes Hardy's writing, which at times verges on the poetic.

The Romantic poets, in particular, leave their mark on Hardy's writing. He emphasizes the natural world and its ability to mirror human emotions, as in the following passage from Chapter 12:

There was not a human soul near. Sad October and her sadder self seemed the only two existences haunting that lane.

Note the stylistic similarities between the above passage and this excerpt from William Wordsworth's Romantic poem, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud": "I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high o'er vales and hills, / When all at once I saw a crowd, / A host of golden daffodils." In both passages, natural phenomena become the outward projection of inward feeling. The season of October reflects Tess's sorrow and internal torment, while in Wordsworth's poem, the floating cloud and the daffodils represent the speaker's carefree attitude towards life. Though Hardy works in prose and Wordsworth in verse, they both utilize Romantic stylistic choices in their work.