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Comparison of Tess of the DUrbervilles (1891) by Thomas Hardy and The Hound

of the Baskervilles (1902) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


In Tess of the DUrbervilles, Hardy presents Tesss confession to Alec has having
strong religious undertones. This is seen in the description of Tesss posture as being a
kneeling one [] her hands were clasped over her head, the skirts of her dressing-gown and
the embroidery of her night-gown flowed upon the floor behind her. The description of Tess
kneeling with her hands clasped over her head has strong connotations of prayer or
confession. This could suggest Tesss label as a pure women and is also suggestive of
Tesss innocence. However, Tesss kneeling posture could also suggest a submissiveness
to Alec. Furthermore, Hardy describes Tess as possessing stockingless feet. This could
suggest that Tess is exposed and vulnerable. The use of religious imagery and vulnerability
is also seen in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Doyles use of religious imagery can be seen
in the crucifixion of Mrs. Stapleton. Doyle describes the room as containing an upright
beam, which had been placed at some period as a support for the old worm-eaten baulk of
timber which had spanned the roof. Doyles crucifix reveals the extreme violence inflicted on
Mrs. Stapleton. Doyles presentation of vulnerability can also be seen in the description of
the room which contains a collection of butterflies and moths. Butterflies are usually
associated with beauty and delicacy. This image directly contrasts the brutal description of
the crucifixion.
Furthermore, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle also presents the crucifixion of
Mrs. Stapleton as destroying her identity. This destruction of identity can be seen where Mrs.
Stapleton is described as a figure who cannot be identified as that of a man or a woman.
The use of the word figure suggests that Mrs. Stapleton has been completely dehumanized.
Mrs. Stapletons eyes are described as two dark eyes eyes full of grief and shame and a
dreadful questioning which stared back at us. The image of two dark staring eyes has
almost animalistic connotations. The idea that Mrs. Stapletons eyes are completely void of
colour also suggests her dehumanization as a result of her torture. In Tess of the
DUrbervilles, Hardy also presents Tess as being dehumanized. However, Tess is
dehumanized by her murder of Alec. This can be seen were Hardy describes Tess as the
form of Tess passing to the gate on her way into the street. By describing Tess as a form it
could suggest that Tess is a ghost of her former self. Additionally, Hardy describes Tess as
being fully dressed now in the walking costume of a well-to-do young lady. The use of the
word costume could imply that Tess is wearing a disguise of a well-to-do young lady which

is hiding Tesss loss of identity. Similarly, to both Doyle and Hardy, Bronte presents the
dehumanization of Isabella at the hands of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.
In Tess of the DUrbervilles, Hardy uses an outside perspective of the landlady to
describe the unspeakable despair of Tess. The use of the landladys perspective
emphasizes the tension between Tess and Alec, where Tess can only be heard partially. For
example, And then my dear, dear husband came home to me and I did not know it!
And you had used your cruel persuasion on me. Hardy presents the tension between Tess
and Alec through the use ellipses. Furthermore, the use of fragmented speech also
incorporates the concept of the unknown to the reader, intensifying the drama of the fight
between Tess and Alec. Additionally, the perspective of the landlady fails to include Alecs
speech which instead described only as sharper words. This could suggest the dominance
and importance of Tess as a woman in the relationship. Similarly, in The Hound of the
Baskervilles, Doyle uses a third person perspective of Holmes and Lestrade. This
perspective also creates tension. Holmes and Lestrade exclaim that, Instead we were faced
by an object so strange and so unexpected that we stood for a moment staring at it in
amazement. By using purposefully vague non-descriptive words such as object, Doyle
heightens the tension for the reader.
In Tess of the DUrbervilles, Hardy presents Alec as abusing love. This can be seen
where Tess says, My little sisters and brothers and my mothers needs they were the
things you moved me by. Hardy has presented Alec as abusing Tesss family love. Alec also
manipulates Tesss love for Angel. This can be seen where Tess exclaims you said my
husband would never come back never; and you taunted me. Hardy presents Tess as
showing severe physical and psychological pain as a result of Alecs manipulations, seen in
the quotation In writhing, with her head on the chair [] her lips were bleeding from the
clench of her teeth upon them. The disturbing language such as writhing and clench
portray the extent of Tesss suffering. Similarly, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle
presents the effects of Mrs. Stapleton abuse physically: She shot her arms out from her
sleeves [...] they were all mottled with bruises. The phrase, She shot her arms has violent
connotations emphasising the abuse inflicted on Mrs. Stapleton. However, Mrs. Stapleton
continues, saying that This is nothing nothing. It is my mind and soul that he has tortured
and defiled. [] I could endure [] everything, as long as I could still cling to the hope that I
had his love. In this quotation, Doyle has depicted the torture of lovelessness, which
exceeds the pain of physical torture. Unlike Hardy, the physical pain experienced by Mrs.
Stapleton is not self-inflicted.

In Tess of the DUrbervilles, Hardy presents Tess as wanting to sacrifice herself for
Angel. This can be seen in the quotation, And he is dying [] And my sin will kill him and
not kill me. The use of the phrase my sin suggests Tesss guilt for Angels suffering and
how she desires self-sacrifice over her lover to prevent his pain due to their separation. This
self-sacrifice could be compared to Heathcliff who wants to die to be with his love, Catherine.
However, it could be argued that Heathcliffs desire for self-sacrifice is more selfish than
Tesss.