The various setting, natural environments and resultant social pressures that are presented by our three writers, are shown to have serious consequences and effects on the physically vulnerable or emotionally sensitive characters presented by Hardy, Fowles and Wordsworth.
Hardy presents Tess as a manipulated young woman, who is exploited by her dysfunctional parents for her beauty, before being undone in an environment where ironically she might feel most comfortable poised gentle roosting birds in their last nap; and about them stole the hopping rabbits and hares'. Hence, Hardy's very plot is an indictment of the unjust environment and society in which Tess finds herself, wherever she may be. In contrast, Wordsworth's poems are often a realisation of how the environment can have a deep and meaningful impact on a person's soul, and how the picturesque setting has taken on a much more significant and sublime characteristics; a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation'.
Wordsworth has been read in part for his depictions of nature, not only as an early romantic poet following his connection to the French Revolution, but also as a significant supporter of the lower classes especially in his initial writings. Despite their social setting, Wordsworth believes the poorest of people can still access what he deems to be important, through nourishment of the soul, through their interactions with nature, as nature is the language of the soul'. Thus, Wordsworth portrays some of his poems in terms of the soul, as if the sight connects with something spiritual in the viewer', showing the mechanism of how the reader is affected by Wordsworth's depiction of setting.
[...] Furthermore ‘Sarah is shown amongst ‘eyebright and birdsfoot' wildflowers. This wildness of setting is important in representing Sarah' as she is an outcast from society, and can be seen as ‘wild'. However ‘Sarah's relationships to her surroundings are not as straight forward' as other heroines of the Victorian era who seek to be assimilated with their social environment, as can be seen in the depiction of her lodgings. The dismal setting of hypocrisy and personal disgrace is continued in the depiction of Mrs Poultney's house. [...]
[...] This is a key Victorian ideal, and a concept Sarah has been trying to rebel against and ‘free herself from'. Conversely, Sarah seems to find a place in a parallel society when she goes to London, ‘Such men have their faults. Their vices. But they are not those the world chooses to imagine. The persons I have met here have let me see a community of honourable endeavour, of noble purpose, I had not till now known existed in this world'. [...]
[...] She spends her time watching the sea, secluded from the rest of the community, alone and the subject of rumour and intrigue, she so ostracized that she has to spend her days out here?', with ‘ostracized' suggesting a hatred and disowning of her person. Her position in society is made clear early on as one who is isolated, don't like to go near her', which of course makes her seem vulnerable in this setting. She is known as French Lieutenants Whore', yet this is unfounded as Charles later finds out had forced a virgin', suggesting that the society she lives in is more concerned about perceptions and honour than the hard evidence behind it. [...]
[...] Hardy is suggesting that nature's force can offer potentially fulfilling consequences, yet also presents it with a harsh, repressive and dismissive demeanour. Despite this, Wordsworth demonstrates an appreciation of the vastness of nature in Thorn'. By writing about something that on the face of it is rather ugly, Wordsworth is giving beauty to nature as a whole. Thus ‘Wordsworth for his part wants to give the charm of novelty to things of every day and excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural (Coleridge).' Wordsworth, Hardy and Fowles all assess the impact of setting over the persona and characters they create, and through this we can see the extent of impact nature has had on them. [...]
[...] narrator suggests that Tess is subject to the same ambivalence as the rest of nature's creatures'. Rape would have had a huge impact on Hardy's readers, as despite Alec obviously being very attracted to Tess, the heroine of the novel, they would have been expecting her to have been safe from such issues. Despite this clearly making Tess an impure woman in Victorian eyes, ‘Hardy still felt strongly about his heroine's purity to allude to it in his full title', and this ‘purity could be located in her struggle against the harshly patriarchal society of Victorian England'. We can also see how Fowles presents Sarah Woodruff as the victim of this society in French Lieutenant's Woman', where Sarah rebels against social convention and morals. [...]
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