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Sleep, in Tess of the D'urbervilles

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on 18 September 2013

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Transcript of Sleep, in Tess of the D'urbervilles

Close read pt. 3
The light, symbolizing heaven, is the thing that wakes her, the only proper thing to wake her
Last dialogue with her husband, last chance at happiness, closure to her fate
Chapter 37
"When he reached the middle of the room he stood still and murmured in terms of indescribable sadness, 'Dead, dead, dead!' under the influence of any strongly-disturbing force Clare would occasionally walk in his sleep, and even perform strange feats, such as he had done on the night of their return from market just before their marriage, when he reenacted in his bedroom his combat with the man who had insulted her. Tess saw that continued mental distress had wrought him into that somnambulistic state now.
Chapter 58
"Let her finish her sleep!' he implored in a whisper of the men, as they gathered round. When they saw where she lay, which they had not done till then, they showed how no objection, and stood watching her, as still as the pillars around. He went to the stone and bent over her, holding one poor little hand; her breathing was now quick and small, like that of a lesser creature than a woman. All waited in the growing light, their faces and hands as if they were silvered, the remainder of their figures dark, the stones glistening green-grey, the Plain still a mass of shade. Soon the light was strong, and a ray shone upon her unconscious form, peering under her eyelids and waking her. 'What is it Angel?' she said starting up. 'Have they come for me?' 'Yes dearest,' he said. 'They have come.'
Close Read pt. 1
Angel wants her to have her last rite, sleep
Mesmerized by her innocence, morals tell them not to disturb her slumber
Close read pt. 2
Trying to protect/comfort her, but knows he cannot
Somewhat de-womanized by the tragedies in her life
Sleep, Tess of the D'ubervilles
Vulnerability, innocence, & peace
Sleeping leads to dreaming-- a trance where true thoughts are set free
Sleep is the only time Tess seems to have peace-- the only escape she has from the physical world
Chapter 11
"But, might some say, where was Tess' guardian angel? Where was the providence of her simple faith? Perhaps like the god of whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awaked.
Role of the motif
God has left her while she sleeps
Vulnerability-- her guardian angel is sleeping instead of protecting her
Needs to be her own guardian angel
Incorporates motif of religion
Role of the motif
Sleep tears down emotional barriers that are present when awake
Shows Angel's true feelings towards Tess, leaving him vulnerable
Role of the motif
Respect of sleep
Allows her peace of mind one final time (last rites)
Soldiers are paused by her innocence while she sleeps
Full transcript