Essay on Contrasting Settings in Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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Contrasting Settings in Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles   

The setting or settings in a novel are often an important element in the work.  Many novels use contrasting places such as cities or towns, to represent opposing forces or ideas that are central to the meaning of the work.  In Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the contrasting settings of Talbothays Dairy and Flintcomb-Ash represent the opposing forces of good and evil in Tess' life.

A significant portion of the novel taks place at Talbothays Dairy, which represents the force of good in Tess' life.  At Talbothays, the air is "clear, bracing, and ethereal"; the river flows like the " pure River of Life" and the air "set up
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When the relationship between Tess and her husband Angel fails, Tess eventually moves to the dreary and desolate Flintcomb-Ash.  In contrast to Talbothays, there is not a single "green pasture" or anything besides "fallow and turnips everywhere" at the "starve-acre place."  This setting represents Tess' lowest emotional state and the force of evil in her life.  Her heart is empty and dark like the setting in which she finds herself after her husband leaves her.  In contrast to the cheery workplace at Talbothays, "nobody comes near [Tess]" as she stands "enshrouded in her uniform" working "hour after hour."  Instead of the camaraderie between the workers like that at Talbothays, the workers at Flintcomb-Ash are too depressed and hard-pressed to have contact with one another.  The people labor over the fields in order to earn enough money to survive.  During her stay at Flintcomb-Ash, Tess has a feeling of immense grief and emptiness, the result of Angel leaving her.

The author uses directly contrasting settings to emphasize Tess' directly contrasting emotional

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