AP English IV 3-4 (O)
February 1, 2010
Setting in Tess of the d’Urbervilles
The setting of a story can change everything. Most often the setting is what defines the tale in the first place. Wuthering Heights takes place in the dreary English countryside for a reason. Charles Dickens made no mistake in setting The Mystery of Edwin Drood in a foggy, seaside village. Some authors may go even further and use setting to define the life of a certain character. This is so in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy. Hardy uses the locations in his novel as devices by which he accentuates the situations into which the book’s heroine, Tess, is forced. Her stays at Talbothay’s Dairy, Flintcomb-Ash and the d’Urberville cemetery are all representations of the current state of Tess’ life. The time spent at each respective place also leads Tess into the hands of the evil Alec d’Urberville.
Tess’s difficult life seems to take a turn for the better when she is given a job at Talbothay’s Dairy in a nearby vale. The region around the dairy is described as “clear, bracing, ethereal” (Hardy 96), and Tess thinks “thus her spirts, her thankfulness, and her hopes, rose higher and higher” (96). The proprietor of the dairy, Dairyman Crick, is warm and welcoming to Tess, saying, “Well, I suppose you’ll want a dish o’ tay, or victuals of some sort, hey?” (100). The farmer, in a gesture of kindness that is few and far between in Tess’ life at the moment, offers Tess food and shelter immediately upon her arrival. Dairyman Crick also tells Tess that she can begin work the next day and rest for the time being, a simply act of consideration. While working at Talbothay’s, Tess meets Angel Clare, who becomes a love interest. This event brings Tess the happiness that was lacking in the previous months. Maybe the most influential facet of Tess taking residence at the dairy is the familial generosity shown to Tess by the Cricks. In a time when Tess’s family is...