Marxism in the Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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A ‘Marxist method is to explain the nature of a whole literary genre in terms of the social period which produced it.’1 How do you respond to this with regards to Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy? Tess of the d’Urbervilles, written by Thomas Hardy in the late 19th Century, when there was socio-economic change characterised by mobility, insecurity and separation as the country continued to be shaped by rapid growth in industrialisation. This is reflected in the novel through the movements and ideals of characters. Mobility is represented through Tess’s constant journeying “Tess walks on; a figure which is part of the landscape…” (p.326). She is “part of the landscape” as her clothing is worn and autumnal colours, like the landscape. Hardy could be presenting Tess like this to show how regular travel blurs the line between the landscape and herself. Her movements also highlight how she alters, as each time she returns home she has changed. This offers a different structure to the general phase structure of the novel. Referring to her as a “figure” suggests that the events that ensue in Tess’s life could happen to anyone making Tess an archetype. The word “figure” can also be seen as a way to take the first readers out of the story, and remind them that events in the novel were occurring in reality. Mobility is also seen through Angel. When Angel learns about Tess’s past with Alec and baby, Sorrow “The picture of life…changed for him” (P.304) this leads to him migrating to Brazil. “Picture” brings to mind a painting. So the use of the word can be interpreted as meaning that not only has Angel’s outlook changed, but also the idealised life he is trying to create for himself. Things do not improve for him; instead he faces greater difficulties ending up “lying ill of fever…” (P.320).In the 1880’s migration to Brazil boomed; Hardy needed Angel to leave
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