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Archived Group Reads 2012 > Tess, Phase the 2nd; Ch 12-15

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message 1: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Maiden No More


message 2: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments Chapter 12- Do you think Joan Derbyville's negligence in telling her daughter about sex, and Alec's probable advances, was purposeful? Do you think Joan hoped her daughter would be naively seduced, get pregnant, and then force Alec to marry her? Tess decries her mother's former silence, but Joan only seems sorry that Tess didn't strong arm Alec into matrimony. I can see Joan possibly using her daughter's innocence to manipulate her this way, though not book smart, she seems very street-crafty.


message 3: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah H. (abhorsen0) | 2 comments Joan reminds me of Jane Austen's Mrs. Bennett is some ways. I could see her in her own conceit not telling Tess all she should, but I doubt Joan really considers the consequences. After all, Tess is her daughter, and parents often overestimate their child's worth in others' sight :). People should be loved and treated with dignity, but there are always Alecs and Wickhams who pursue their desires to the destruction of others.


message 4: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Actually I think Tess's mother did realize what might happen. It seemed in that conversation she basically admits to playing a game with Tess. She admits to herself that she did not want to tell Tess the facts of life because it would have made Tess coy and off-putting to Alec. She was hoping he would sleep with her and then marry her so they could all be a part of that fabulous family. Now I don't know that Mrs. Bennet was ever willing to make that gamble completely. It never actually states that in Austen.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Becky wrote: "Do you think Joan Derbyville's negligence in telling her daughter about sex, and Alec's probable advances, was purposeful? Do you think Joan hoped her daughter would be naively seduced, get pregnant, and then force Alec to marry her? "

I hadn't though of that, but no, I don't think Joan could think that way, and anyhow, if she were going to educate Tess about men, she would have done it before this -- Tess was old enough, clearly, to be attractive to men before she went off to the Durberville home.

But it's an intriguing idea, if you think Joan was sophisticated enough to think of it.


message 6: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Everyman wrote: "Becky wrote: "Do you think Joan Derbyville's negligence in telling her daughter about sex, and Alec's probable advances, was purposeful? Do you think Joan hoped her daughter would be naively seduce..."

Last passage, Chapter 12, particularly last paragraph -- how do you interpret it then?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I do agree that in the back of Joan's mind and perhaps even her father's was the fervent desire for Tess to elevate the family to a higher social order. I do not put it beyond the two of them to have thought of and planned a scenario such as what occurred to Tess. They are users and as such would do what they thought to forward their just deserved rights and privileges. I have not witnessed any kindness, any empathy, or any parental feelings for Tess or for any of the children. I think they ultimately blame Tess for not giving into "cousin D'uberville." and becoming whatever she needed to to make her parents happy and "wealthy."

On another note, do you think he would have married her?


message 8: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Unless we meet him again later in the novel and he shows us otherwise, he had no appearance of needing to marry Tess. He does not seem to have loved her and she can do nothing for him socially, so I don't believe he had marriage in his agenda.


message 9: by Denise (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 401 comments I do think that Mrs. Derbyville was hoping that Tess would marry Alec, and that she would do whatever it took to hook him (although not necessarily deliberately, but just by giving in to him in whatever he wanted). Thinking about such a marriage, it could be seen to be to the advantage of both families. In Tess' case, she would be marrying into the wealthy family that was using her name, and in Alec's case, it would give his family's usurpation of the name some legitimacy if he actually married into that bloodline.


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments It seems quite clear that one reason Mrs. Durbeyfield encourages Tess to go claim kin is the hope that she will marry one of their fancy pants kin. She says as much in Chapter 6:

"But do let her go, Jacky," coaxed his poor witless wife. "He's struck wi' her--you can see that. He called her Coz! He'll marry her, most likely, and make a lady of her; and then she'll be what her forefathers was."

But did this "witless" wife think he would seduce here first, before marrying her? Clearly she thinks, in Chapter 12, that Tess should have used the seduction to force him to marry her, but did she expect that in advance? Would any mother really wish that on her daughter?


message 11: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Maybe she would not want a match made by force, maybe Mrs. D did want to pretend that a seduction would have been the two of them both smitten with each other and Tess giving in basically. And it still seems so hard to think of a mother and father sending their daughter off to a man they did not know, and no one in the village knew either really. As Everyman says, it only mattered to make the fancy pants connection.

You make a good point, Denise, Tess's bloodline could have been enough of an attraction if Alec thought he could hide Tess's lowly parents and upbringing. Maybe he would have gone along with a marriage in name at least.


message 12: by SarahC (last edited Mar 08, 2012 05:19AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Amalie wrote: "SarahC wrote: "Maiden No More"

Can others tell what this means. Was it rape or seduction? I say "rape" from Tess's point of view, and "seduction" (she is then somewhat responsible fro what happen..."


Amalie, you commented that our first thread was too long, however, that is where we'll need to discuss the "rape or seduction" issue of the story. It is being discussed there, at the same section of the story where this event took place. PLEASE read the comments in "Phase the 1st" topic of the discussion. We must get on with discussing the rest of the story here in THIS section.


message 13: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I will point out one thing that will keep our threads more concise. Please try to carefully read what the other members are commenting. It is not then necessary to entirely repeat the point in your own comment. You can state "As Marialyce has pointed out in her comment 24....." and briefly restate things already said only if necessary. That will show that we are each carefully reading each other's comments AND may keep the whole thread overall shorter. The discussions work better if we show that we are all thinking over the viewpoints of the others in the discussions.


message 14: by Amalie (new)

Amalie SarahC wrote: "Amalie wrote: "SarahC wrote: "Maiden No More"

Can others tell what this means. Was it rape or seduction? I say "rape" from Tess's point of view, and "seduction" (she is then somewhat responsible..."


Found it. Sorry, I thought it's in this part!? I'm not reading with you guys just joining the discussion and I don't have the novel with me. I'm glad others also see how I see it.


message 15: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments I don't think that Alec would have married Tess, under any circumstances. Correct me if I'm wrong, but his family purchased the hereditary name of D'Uerberville, and while maybe not the most prestigious way to acquire a name, that was a common practice and entirely legitimate. I know I've seen it in other books too, and generally for the first two generations the family is somewhat mocked for trying to improve themselves so audaciously, but after that, the fact is normally forgotten. So, he would not have had to marry some "bumpkin" to legitimize his families claim to the name.

As for caring about Tess, I think it was lust. Hardy spends a lot of time pointing out that she was pretty, but also bright and animated. It was the whole package that really made Tess stand out, and that captivated Alec. I think he was then frusterated by his inability to acquire her, not as a person, but as a conquest/object. Beyond that I don't think she held any real meaning for him.

Although, I do think its possible that he was somewhat ashamed by his own behavior, or perhaps, even shocked by himself.


message 16: by Amalie (last edited Mar 08, 2012 06:43AM) (new)

Amalie Becky wrote: "Although, I do think its possible that he was somewhat ashamed by his own behavior, or perhaps, even shocked by himself. ..."

Oh, I disagree! (I've never disagreed such intensely before:)(view spoiler)

Please read (message 13).

--------------------------

Alec's name also have connotations for Satan. If you look it the name "D'Urberville" It has all letters to make the word "Devil". I'm sure there are other interpretation for the name, but if we go religiously, later the name "Angel Clare" contrasts with Alec D'Urberville.


message 17: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Amalie, we need to refrain from referring to other later developments of the novel when we are discussing this section of the novel. There are different views of this, but Marialyce and I take the heat when we allow spoilers where there should be none.


PLEASE edit your comment now.


message 18: by Amalie (new)

Amalie SarahC wrote: "Amalie, we need to refrain from referring to other later developments of the novel when we are discussing this section of the novel. There are different views of this, but Marialyce and I take the ..."

Which part of my comment is the spoiler? Is it the name Angel


message 19: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Amalie you refer to future occurrences with Alec. That is considered a spoiler. Please edit that or I will need to remove it. Thanks for your help.


message 20: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments Granted, I haven't read this book since high school. I'm sure there may be future developments which alter my opinion of Alec. I should clarify my comments regardless.

I am struck by his parting comments to Tess. Do I think he feels truly remorseful? No. I don't think he feels bad about what he did to Tess. I think he is shocked at his own behavior, that he was so able to depart from his normal "civlized" upbringing. You see this a lot with first time criminals. They don't feel bad about what they did, they're just shocked that they were able to do it. I think he maybe feels ashamed about giving into to something so carnalistic, so much a part of nature/barbaric, when he is supposed to be this London/high bred/ educated young man. I think his offers of gifts to Tess, promising to make her his mistress, isn't to alleviate her distress, but to instead elevate her to his cultured level of barbarism. He wants to keep committing the same act, but in his normal realm of behavior.


message 21: by Amalie (new)

Amalie I never considered I'll be adding spoilers unless I say something specific happens in future connected to the plot. 9I don't filter that much with my group.) I hid my comment.


message 22: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Thanks Amalie, I just sent you an inbox message also. Your changes are much appreciated.


message 23: by SarahC (last edited Mar 08, 2012 06:53AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Becky, I was wondering from your message 20, do you think we have evidence yet that this is so -- that Alec did have a proper upbringing and that his current actions stray from his past actions in his life?


message 24: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I should also say, about the same issue -- I stated earlier that I find the Stoke family a bit odd -- like they don't seem quite "up to it" as the expression goes. Are they really all that proper? We don't have enough material to know yet do we?


message 25: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments Sarah you make a good point. I think I'm assuming this was so just because they had more money. I had somewhat forgotten about the instance with his mother caring after the chickens.


message 26: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments I wrote a comment earlier in this thread about Alec's feelings for Tess but can't find it now - why was it deleted? I wrote no spoilers and I can't imagine there was anything offensive in it? It's not a biggie, just wondering.

Anyway, Becky wrote: "As for caring about Tess, I think it was lust. Hardy spends a lot of time pointing out that she was pretty, but also bright and animated. It was the whole package that really made Tess stand out, and that captivated Alec. I think he was then frusterated by his inability to acquire her, not as a person, but as a conquest/object. Beyond that I don't think she held any real meaning for him."

Throughout Phase the First I only saw lust and a need to make a conquest as well, but the fact that he follows her, wants her to stay and is ready to help her financially - in short, everything that happens in Ch. 1 of Phase the Second - makes me think that there is something more to it for Alec? I mean, he has had his conquest now, he's had Tess so why doesn't he just shrug his shoulders when he finds she is gone? Why follow her and ask her to stay?

I am not saying that Tess is Alec's one true love and that he can't sleep at night for thinking of her. But if it is just lust - well, he has satisfied that lust now, hasn't he? Ch. 1 of Phase 2 implies more than just lust for me - it doesn't, however, imply love at all. Something in between.

As I said earlier (in the comment that has now disappeared) I may be reading too much into it but lust doesn't explain Alec's behaviour to me here


message 27: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Nina, I think the deleting was accidental due to my own attempts. I apologize. I was probably careless, but my own entries earlier were very flukey, so my deletions may not haven't worked right either. It was not purposeful.


message 28: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Nina, in message 26, the counter to your point would be, when Tess leaves, Alec will have lost his live-in girl. He will need to look elsewhere for his pleasures so maybe that instead is why he wants her to stay?


message 29: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments SarahC, I think he has enough live-in girls. I feel that the book implies that he has cycled through the women, his last favorite being Car Darch. Thats why I believed his reaction to Tess leaving was somewhat a singular event.


message 30: by Amalie (new)

Amalie SarahC wrote: "Nina, I think the deleting was accidental due to my own attempts. I apologize. I was probably careless, but my own entries earlier were very flukey, so my deletions may not haven't worked right e..."

Sarah I had two more massages posted earlier and didn't included spoilers and one of them was an answer to Nina's post. It's frustrating to see so many filtering because it takes time to gather these thoughts and type in. I'm leaving this discussion, I might type in something in the final thread.


message 31: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Amalie, please read above -- I have apologized for some accidental deleting of posts. Please consider that this was unintentional and rethink your decision if you are leaving due to accidental deletions. I did delete (moderators have no power to move a comment) your comment that I first pointed to this morning -- that should have been in the other thread. Otherwise -- further deletions were accidental.


message 32: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments SarahC wrote: "Nina, I think the deleting was accidental due to my own attempts. I apologize. I was probably careless, but my own entries earlier were very flukey, so my deletions may not haven't worked right e..."

It's ok, Sarah, I thought it might be something like that. As for Alec's live-in girls, my reply would echo Becky's in message 29, so I'll refer to hers:)


message 33: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I do think it is very possible, Nina and Becky,that there was depth to Alec's intentions, but skepticism remains with me. The reaction of the group walking home with Tess was so strong and so harsh to her when their emotions seemed to erupt. Had one or more of those women been promised the same things by Alec also, earlier or just recently? There was certainly a flash of emotion there. It is hard for me not to weigh this into the picture as well.

I have clearly not read past a certain point in the story and I am enjoying the revealing of the plot either way!


message 34: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments There certainly were emotions, perhaps also jealousy? Maybe Alec had promised them the same things as he did Tess, maybe they were "proud" of having a sexual relationship with him? Maybe some of them had feelings for him and didn't like the attention Tess got from him? Car Darch's anger at Tess for laughing along with the rest of the group seems to suggest a certain antagonism towards Tess on her side.

I am just beginning Phase the Third. I find the book very unputdownable!


message 35: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Yes, I was proposing in mess. 33 that the reaction against Tess by the group was stirred by jealousy due to one of more of the other women having a similar relationship with Alec.


message 36: by Denise (last edited Mar 08, 2012 02:32PM) (new)

Denise (dulcinea3) | 401 comments Sarah, I wanted to comment on your message 13, in which you request that we not quote previous messages. Personally, I find it confusing to have to keep scrolling up and down to read what is being responded to. On the other hand, many people use 'reply' and just leave whatever part of the original message that is included automatically, which can be just as confusing, if it doesn't include what they are responding to (and then that also leads to scrolling back trying to find it). What I usually do is to use 'reply', but then to copy the part I am responding to and paste that over what is included automatically. I hope I am making sense? That way, it is clear what I am responding to, and no excessive scrolling is required. Will that be a problem if I continue to do that? I don't think it indicates that I am not carefully considering the original post, since I am showing what I am talking about.


message 37: by SarahC (last edited Mar 08, 2012 03:37PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Denise that is no problem -- anything like that is fine. I would just asking that we try to summarize in some way. I have just seen -- and not strictly in this group, that members dont read what others say -- and then make very similar comments themselves even and that in itself makes the conversation long for folks to scroll through. If we acknowledge, yes Marialyce has already said etc. etc. and I would like to add etc. etc. on the same point, then you don't have to restate several lines of thought or commentary that practically matches someone else's. I know it may sound picky but it will help us all find each other's thoughts and points easier in these discussion that are just long by nature anyway.

As far as the way we post our replies, we can post in either way - the "reply" in which we try to copy which part we are commenting on, if not all, OR just saying in Message #10, etc. No problem. I know the group appreciates you helping clear things up. Thank you.


message 38: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments SarahC wrote: "I should also say, about the same issue -- I stated earlier that I find the Stoke family a bit odd -- like they don't seem quite "up to it" as the expression goes. Are they really all that proper?..."

That's a good point. They seem to have come from a fairly crude (bad word, but can't find a better at the spur of the moment) background. Certainly not refined. We don't see the father, but what sort of example did he set for his son? From the conduct of the son, not a very good one, it seems.


message 39: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments I'm fascinated by the range of emotions and interactions Tess goes through in these few chapters, some explicit, some I find implied.

When she first comes home she seems (for good reason?) somewhat depressed. Then she enjoys the chatter of her friends (Ch 13 early on) and "Their chatter, their laughter, their good-humoured innuendoes, above all, their flashes and flickerings of envy, revived Tess's spirits also; and, as the evening wore on, she caught the infection of their excitement, and grew almost gay."

But the next morning, they're gone, and "the despondency of the next morning's dawn, when it was no longer Sunday, but Monday; and no best clothes; and the laughing visitors were gone, and she awoke alone in her old bed, the innocent younger children breathing softly around her. In place of the excitement of her return, and the interest it had inspired, she saw before her a long and stony highway which she had to tread, without aid, and with little sympathy. Her depression was then terrible, and she could have hidden herself in a tomb."

For a time, she chooses to be little seen in public, but still does go to church until the whispering gets too much, and she retreats even from that, going out only in the evenings and avoiding all human interactions.

In the next chapter (14), we see her emerged from her isolation, working in the fields -- "somewhat changed--the same, but not the same; at the present stage of her existence living as a stranger and an alien here, though it was no strange land that she was in. After a long seclusion she had come to a resolve to undertake outdoor work in her native village." And while she goes aside to feed her baby, she does do it in the presence of and with the knowledge of the other workers.

And then the death of Sorrow, and her own grief (and yet, to a degree, also relief).

I find Hardy's description of her vacillations of mood and of her willingness to be in or need to withdraw from society to be both beautifully presented and quite convincing.


message 40: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments The baptism of Sorrow I find a very touching scene. The mother's great fear that her infant will be forever damned, her father's refusal to allow a priest into the house, and her determination to baptize the child herself tugged at my heartstrings. The other little children, waked in the nighttime to take part in this strange ritual -- what a wonderful passage: "her high enthusiasm having a transfiguring effect upon the face which had been her undoing, showing it as a thing of immaculate beauty, with a touch of dignity which was almost regal. The little ones kneeling round, their sleepy eyes blinking and red, awaited her preparations full of a suspended wonder which their physical heaviness at that hour would not allow to become active."

And the sleepy children piping up their Amen when she called for it, and then that glorious description "The children gazed up at her with more and more reverence, and no longer had a will for questioning. She did not look like Sissy to them now, but as a being large, towering, and awful--a divine personage with whom they had nothing in common." (I believe that awful is used here in its original meaning of inspiring awe, not in its current meaning of terrible.)


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments I loved the Vicar's internal struggle over whether to validate the baptism, and was so grateful that he came down on the "right" side:

Having the natural feelings of a tradesman at finding that a job he should have been called in for had been unskilfully botched by his customers among themselves, he was disposed to say no. Yet the dignity of the girl, the strange tenderness in her voice, combined to affect his nobler impulses--or rather those that he had left in him after ten years of endeavour to graft technical belief on actual scepticism. The man and the ecclesiastic fought within him, and the victory fell to the man.

"My dear girl," he said, "it will be just the same."


message 42: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Mar 09, 2012 03:58AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Everyman, I totally agree with all your posts. What an awful sense of loneliness, depression, and loss, Hardy was able to picture within these chapters. He brought such an in depth portrayal of a woman who had been wronged, who was dealing with issues of shame and abandonment, as well as the loss of a child. It amazed me how he seemed to be able to get into Tess's mind set and write her as a woman might write her. He becomes Tess I believe.

I, too, applauded the Vicar's decision. He possessed more Christianity than her parents and performed a tremendous service of kindness to Tess. He was, I believe, the most forgiving of all the other adults especially her family. How utterly cruel of her father to not give Tess this one piece of solace, and how totally unmotherly for her very own mother to stand idly by. What horrible folk these parents are!

Tess has been forced by circumstance and lack of emotional assistance to grow up quickly. Her innocence has been taken cruelly away and one can't think of how her going away is really her only choice in life right now that may possibly give her a life not filled with sorrow and pathos. I do feel sorrow for Tess's siblings however, for she is the only one who can give them a sense of propriety love, and self worth. I can only hope this internally brave young woman finds some peace and contentment.


message 43: by Amalie (new)

Amalie SarahC wrote: "Amalie, please read above -- I have apologized for some accidental deleting of posts. Please consider that this was unintentional and rethink your decision if you are leaving due to accidental del..."

I saw the inbox message massage you sent me. I'm not offended but I was making a point about Alec's name, a important one and the accidental delete thing...well, now I've totally forgotten the point. Anyway, it's ok.

About the spoilers, I never considered such vague comments as spoilers, I've not experienced this in other groups and I don't filter such ones in my own group which is very much literature (Russian)

I would consider comments like "Alec was drowned or had a heart attack so justice was done" kind a comment to be spoilers (If such thing really happens...)but not the ones that only rouses the curiosity. But I get the rules here. Since I'm used to make such comment and has read the novel (re-read) I'll skip the discussion.

Sorry first-time readers if I spoiled you :)


message 44: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Amalie,

Since Victorians! is a group that primarily engages those of us who have not seriously or professionally studied or deeply explored Victorian literature, many of us are very new or somewhat new to the novels in our group discussions. Our group will lean toward keeping the discussions organized and encouraging for the newer readers, who do not know all the plots or outcomes.

All members are welcome to discuss our formats, structures, future plans, etc. by commenting on the board or in private message to the moderators.

Overall, we all participate in reading groups that fit us the best.

Best wishes, Sarah


message 45: by Amalie (new)

Amalie Keep up the good work! I'll join a first-time reading some other time.


message 46: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Hope to see you soon, Amalie.


message 47: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Everyman and Marialyce,

What struck me immediately about the scenes between Tess and her siblings was the solidarity of that. They were all innocents doing the best they could and basically taking over the roll of the parents, the church, and the community. It was very thought-provoking. And at the death of Sorrow, "they begged Sissy to have another pretty baby." The children only saw the worth and value of Tess and the baby.

Thomas Hardy was bold, wasn't he?


message 48: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments SarahC wrote: "Thomas Hardy was bold, wasn't he? "

Most definitely. He wasn't afraid of realistically portraying the realities of the lower classes whose lives were generally hard and unforgiving. This is not Jane Austen! Hardy gets down on his knees with those for whom life is a struggle, and he gives us their stories without blinking or equivocating.

I often, when reading him, think of Thoreau's comment that "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." Hardy writes the stories of these people.


message 49: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 497 comments Marialyce wrote: Everyman, I totally agree with all your posts. What an awful sense of loneliness, depression, and loss, Hardy was able to picture within these chapters.
That's what I felt in reading these chapters: a terrible sense of loneliness, for Tess, for her little baby without a name ...
Yes Everyman and SarahC: here Hardy was extremely bold, not only because of the themes he treats, but also for the feelings he tries to depict ...


message 50: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments That is a beautiful Thoreau quote, I must write that down! Thanks Everyman


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