Imagery and symbolism in Tess of the d'Urbervilles

A strong visual quality

Hardy was a poet as well as a novelist, writing within the Romantic tradition. One of the consequences of this is his dense use of imagery and symbolism, especially nature imagery. The setting is rural, and many of the images are drawn quite naturally from the countryside and landscape. These images are often used symbolically to denote meaning as well as likeness, especially in terms of Tess's various states of being.

This does not mean the style is obviously 'poetic' or flowery, weighed down by lengthy descriptions. In many places, the narrative is quite plain and unadorned. But it always has a strong visual quality: the reader can ‘see' the landscape. The detail given is concrete and ordered.

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