How does nature play a vital role in the novel, Tess Of The D'urbervilles?

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bree1228 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the novel, Tess Of The D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, nature plays a pivotal role in defining the events of Tess's life.  When spring and summer are happening, Tess seems to lead a quiet, yet budding new life as a dairy worker.  The month of May, the height of spring, is when young Tess meets Angel Clare for the first time.

As the seasons go by, and Tess's life experiences take a turn for the worse, winter and fall correlate with her rape, the death of her baby, and ultimately her own demise for killing Alec.  Her marriage to her beloved Angel Clare turns sour once he gains knowledge of her past, as the cold of winter begins to seep into the landscape. 

Hardy uses nature and the changing seasons to demonstrate that Tess is ever changing, just as the seasons are.  Hardy also shows that when nature seems more mild and serene,  Tess's life mirrors those feelings.  Similarly, the bleak and blustery seasons serve as a fitting backdrop for Tess's disappointments and tragedies.  Like the inevitable revolution of nature's seasons, so the life of the tragic Tess revolves, but never changes, always coming back to the same doom of winter, when nature dies and withers.  When it is fair and mild, her life appears better and filled with hope, and when the beauty and calm fall away to make room for inevitable fall and winter, Tess finds herself in the clutches of further tragedy. 

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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