Alec D’Urberville and strawberries

Throughout the interactions between Tess and Alec D’Urberville, Tess’s lack of consent and Alec’s disregard for her desires are strongly emphasized, placing all of the fault on Alec. This pattern starts off at their first introduction with Alec insisting on placing a strawberry into Tess’s mouth, causing her “slight distress” and foreshadowing his unwanted advances later in the novel (42). The description of the consumption of the strawberry against perhaps better moral instinct on Tess’s part invokes Edenic imagery, yet reverses the roles of male and female. Instead of Tess convincing Alec to eat of the fruit, he is implied to be the one forcing her to sin and therefore receiving the majority of the blame from the narrator’s point of view. Following the first strawberry fed to Tess, Hardy describes her as being “in an abstracted half-hypnotized state” and “like one in a dream,” thus removing the agency from her actions and showing her relative powerlessness in front of D’Urberville and his forceful personality (42). She is also fed strawberries until “she could consume no more,” and still given more of both the fruit and flowers (42). This imagery first conjures up the idea of love and fertility, yet the description of her basket heaping full of flowers and fruits that she did not ask for gives the scene a sense of wasteful extravagance and demonstrates the tendency for D’Urberville to ignore the real desires of Tess and instead project his own cravings and inclinations onto her. His actions are therefore not depicted as generous or kind, but as self-serving and controlling.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *