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Tess of the D'Ubervilles

Tess of the D'Ubervilles - Tess of the d'Ubervilles A Life...

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Tess of the d’Ubervilles: A Life Paid in Blood Blood is the vital fluid of the human body. It is also a term used to describe the genetic relationship between members of the same family. While both usages of the term imply a sort of continuity, of life and of genetic traits respectively, Thomas Hardy uses the second sense of the word as way to counteract the first. In Tess of the d’Ubervilles , the presence of blood, both genealogical and vital, signifies advancement of the plot as Tess’s fallen lineage contributes to the degeneration of her life. When Parson Tringham first informs John Durbeyfield that he is a descendant of the long ago noble family of d’Urbervilles, he tells him that it is “useless knowledge” as there “are several families among the cottagers of this county” who are also descendants of fallen nobility (Hardy 2, 3). This information does not sink in and because John Durbeyfield goes off to celebrate fallen noble blood, Tess has to deliver the beehives to the market at Casterbridge the next day, a journey that introduces the first instance of blood as the vital fluid and results in the death of Prince, the beloved family horse. The pointed shaft of the cart had entered the breast of the unhappy Prince like a sword, and from the wound his life’s blood was spouting in a stream, and falling with a hiss into the road. In her despair Tess sprang forward and put her hand upon the hole, with the only result that she became splashed from face to skirt with the crimson drops. Then she stood helplessly looking on. Prince also stood firm and motionless as long as he could; till he suddenly sank down in a heap (Hardy 22). Prince's death is significant for several reasons. First, it is analogous to the ill-fated fall of the d'Uberville name, most specifically, Tess. Prince is a noble and majestic name and the fact that he should die, speared through the heart and blood pouring, proves to be an ominous event for Tess's life. Secondly, Prince's death allows for a point with which to compare and contrast Alec's murder later in the book. Upon realizing what has happened
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