Consider the significance of home in Tess of the D’Urbervilles Hardy uses setting in Tess of the D’urbervilles to mirror the characters in the novel. At the beginning of Tess’s journey she is in rural Marlott, a place where community thrives and although flaws are shown through the characterisation of John and Joan Durbeyfield, it is Tess’s home and the only place that seems to truly accept her, this is shown by the many returns she makes back to her homestead after retreating from it in search of bettering herself.
Although The Slopes may look as though it boasts lineage and formality and could be a home for Tess, it is contrived and artificial; it is a new house where she expected to find an old home. Considering the turbulences she goes through at The Slopes, the house is now tainted with the memory of corruption seen by Alec D’Urberville, the rape forces Tess back to Marlott in shame. Tess couldv’e stayed with Alec D’Urberville and made her home at the Slopes, but her burgeoning guilt forbids this.
This is the first potential home Tess runs from. Tess returns home husbandless against the great expectations of her family. Tess left Marlott as a maiden, but returns alone and with child. The symbolism in this show that Tess can rely on no one in a patriarchal society and her family and home where she seeks most approval are shamed by her. Although John Durbeyfield expresses great shame and embarrassment for Tess, the family still take her and her unborn baby in.
Indeed Tess must still work, it is interesting to consider that although she has come back alone and pregnant, her father and by extension Hardy, still let her back. In a wider sense, this shows Hardy’s affection for his female protagonist, as a Victorian writer, it was appropriate at the time to shun fallen women and to give them only drama and tragedy in literature, however Hardy relents- if only for fleeting moments-on Tess. At Talbothay’s Dairy, Tess feels at home and arguably, this is the happiest she has felt in her adult life.
Hardy grants Tess a time of bliss wherein she falls in love with Angel Clare, however Tess is already a fallen woman and can never be accepted as an Angel of the house in the eyes of the Victorian audience, Hardy must make Tess fall again. Once Angel and Tess marry and go on their honeymoon, Hardy shows the reader that Tess may have a chance, but she has to fall and in telling Angel of her past with Alec, this takes away another home and life she could have had. Another path Tess could’ve gone down if only she had lied to her husband. After Angel deserts her and their uined marriage Tess once again returns to Marlott, again in shame and again alone. Tess’s journeys to and from her place of birth reflect the path she takes in her short life. Hardy depicts Tess to be reliant on bad and weak men, which in turn means they will always leave her and she will always come back home in shame. The journeys that Hardy gives Tess nly prove to show that although she thinks she is free to seek better things, she cannot climb higher than her lower class upbringing. This is somewhat ironic as Tess’s real family name is older than Angel’s and Alec is merely a pretender.