Consider the Significance of Rural Traditions. Tess of the D'Urbervilles

667 Words Apr 3rd, 2012 3 Pages
I think customs and traditions are important in the novel because the difference between rural and urban customs would have caused a significant effect if the novel was based in a town or city.
For example the use of agriculture may have been inexistent if the novel was based in the city, or religion may not have been an important factor as it is in the novel.
Tess is brought up in the countryside, in a typical rural environment where the children are not obligated, or in most cases rich enough, to go to school therefore children are brought up and taught by their parents. This causes Tess to be uneducated in topics such as personal safety and naïve in areas such as men. Her innocence could be blamed on this lack of education because
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During Tess’s visit to the Dairy farm the quote “the butter doesn’t churn if too people are in love” is used to explain why the butter is not being made from the milk of the cows. As the farmers and the townsfolk are not cultured into knowing the scientific explanation for the reason why the butter is not being made they use superstitions to fit the appropriateness of the situation.
Also, Alec uses superstitions to manipulate Tess. He makes Tess swear upon a cross at a point in the novel for his gain. However she finds out from a townsman nearby that the cross is a representation of death and the devil. This superstition significantly changes Tess because it causes her to feel dread and carry out actions that would not have been taken if she had not believed in these superstitions.
There have been many incidents that cause Tess to take new actions such as the death of her family’s horse Prince. Prince was the only horse owned by the Durbeyfield family and helped them carry out tasks which brought the family income. The Durbeyfield family owning a horse can be seen as a rural custom. In a town or city, families would not have owned such an asset. The family owning Prince at the beginning causes a significance in the novel. This is because if they had not owned this horse, Tess would not have killed it, causing her to ask her fellow “family members” the D’urbervilles for help which would not have led her to her rape and in the end; her death. Therefore

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