Please give an explanation of the following lines from Tess of the D'Urbervilles: "But the complexion even of external things seemed to suffer transmutation as her announcement progressed.The...

Please give an explanation of the following lines from Tess of the D'Urbervilles: "But the complexion even of external things seemed to suffer transmutation as her announcement progressed.The fire in the grate looked...But the essence of things had changed."

Asked on by shewa55

1 Answer | Add Yours

Top Answer

durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Tess has just confessed to Angel, against her better judgment but being inspired to do so after Angel's confession of his "folly" when he asks for Tess's forgiveness. She is convinced, as is he, that her "confession" "can hardly be more serious" than his. Tess recounts her "acquaintance" with Alec d'Urberville at the end of chapter 34.

Even though Tess is expecting her "dearest" to move on now that the air is clear, she has been affected by her own words. Her constant tone reveals her shame but she has removed all emotion from voice. Tess knows that , as she progresses "the complexion"  or appearance of everything is changing significantly -  transmutating so to speak.

She is staring into the fire which has taken on almost human qualities as the flames flicker "impishly." There is foreshadowing in the fact that the flames look "demoniacally funny." Although she is not alone, she feels isolated; the fire "did not care; ...the fender grinned idly" and even the water-bottle had no interest in her situation. These inanimate objects intensify her situation because in fact - just as these objects do not really change anything- and "nothing had changed since the moment he had been kissing her" - in fact, everything has changed; although not the "substance" but the very "essence."  

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,912 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question