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Social class: Tess of the d'urbervilles

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Karly Price

on 5 March 2015

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Transcript of Social class: Tess of the d'urbervilles

Thematic Statement
An individual's status in society can determine how one is perceived and may convey the struggle for equality.
"Don't you really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the lineal representative of the ancient and knightly family of the d'Urbervilles, who derive their descent from Sir Pagan d'Urberville, that renowned knight who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, as appears by Battle Abbey Roll?" (2)
"How can we live together while that man lives? - he being your husband in Nature, and not I. If he were dead it might be different... Besides, that's not all the difficulty; it lies in another consideration- one bearing upon the future of other people than ourselves. Think of years to come..." (251)

Since Tess was raped and Angel found out the fear of what society would think of him for marrying her dwells in Angel's mind. Angel is not socially accepting of what happened to Tess and not only is he afraid of what everyone will think of them he is afraid of how it will affect his children and parents even. Angel and society considers Tess Alec's property for losing her virginity to him. Since Tess is a girl it was considered more unwholesome and socially incorrect.
Visual Explanation
This poster represents the fight for equality of social status and social class. The scale representing society, and placing different items of both social classes upon each side. The wealthy, on our scale, are represented by gold bars, while the poor are represented by eggs; a ware of the unwealthy. Although both sides are filled with completely different items, notice they are both the same mass. Whether you are a milkmaid or a rich man the value of our lives are equal and the inevitable reaper will be the same conclusion for us all.
"He was getting to behave like a farmer; he flung his legs about; the muscles of his face had grown more expressive; his eyes looked as much information as his tongue spoke, and more. The manner of the scholar has nearly disappeared; still more the manner of the drawing-room young man. A prig would have said that he had lost culture, and a prude that he had become coarse." (164)
Social class: Tess of the d'urbervilles
Who Did What?
Karly: One quote, thematic statement
Mar: One quote, thematic statement, visual
Nicole: One quote, thematic statement, visual
Adrianna: One quote, thematic statement
ThaoMy: One quote, thematic statement
"The people who had turned their heads turned them again as the service proceeded; and at last observing her they whispered to each other. She knew what their whispers were about, grew sick at heart and felt that she could come to church no more." Pg.86
"He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off." (pg 1)

This quote shows that Mr. d'Urberfield is of a lower class because he nods to other people which shows that they are superior to him. The significance of an empty egg-basket shows that he does not have any money or goods to bring back to his family even though he is the "man of the family". His hat is physical representation of how poor he is since it is falling apart and worn out. This quote is important because it is the first description Thomas Hardy uses to describe a character and he emphasizes on how little Mr. d'Urberfield has rather than something else like his personality which shows that social class in this novel plays a big role in their society.

The society sees Tess as a disgrace and looks down upon her after they realize what has happened to her. In this quote the society is looking at her with disgust but they do not ask her about what has happened or try to understand her side of the story. They are also placing the blame on Tess and not focused on who the man was that she was with. They do this because she is both poor and a woman and they feel no guilt in shaming her without knowing what happened to her. Even the people of her own social class view her as less than she was before and they feel the need to gossip about her misfortunes.
This shows that Angel, when visiting with his family, is being judged for what he has decided to do, which is farming. Angel's brothers notice that he has begun to act and pick up the mannerisms of a farmer, or someone of lower class. Although they may not be judging him, society is. Society or "prig[s]", feel that he has lost his "culture" which symbolizes his wealth, and his family name. In losing this, he has fallen short of society's expectations. Angel is now seen as low social class whilst his family is painted as "educated".
Prior to the knowledge of his decent, Tess' father accepts his fate as a low class citizen and accommodates to his lifestyle. When he is informed of his family history, he immediately feels himself a more important soul. He is asked to, "throw up" his chin a moment, and the single motion symbolized a climb of social class. Although we know he is still humble under money, the detail highlights the importance of what is in a name, especially the importance it casts on social class.
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