Isolation in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Catcher In The Rye

Essay by sjb97College, UndergraduateB+, November 2014

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Sam Burnside

Explore the presentation of isolation in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and how it is illuminated in J.D.Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'.

Thomas Hardy's heroine 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' is presented against the 'engirdled and secluded' landscape of her Dorset home. The Durbeyfield family encounters many difficulties as they are growing up in a predominantly urban society, J.D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye' mirrors much of isolation found in Hardy's novel.

Tess Durbeyfield is a country girl living in the late 19th century in an English village that seems secluded. This isolation of rural life in comparison to urban life is often referred to by Hardy in his description of the landscape. When looking at the isolation of the village in relation to the historical context [1], we see the 'Rise of the Nouveau Riche' as the elite social groups like Alec's family are moving away (isolating themselves) from that of Tess' family, who are regarded to be in the lower majority of the classes'.

In Chapter One, we are informed by Hardy on how Tess' father 'John Durbeyfield' that him and his family are part of the last lineal descendant of the D'Urbervilles- one of the oldest, most aristocratic, families in England at the time. He foolishly assumes that his aristocratic heritage will suffice to pull his family out of societal poverty, and so he sends Tess of on horse 'Prince' to borrow/request for money on the basis that the distant family is strong and from a healthy branch of the D'Urberville tree.

'Hazy sunrise' (pg. 76) echoes this rural landscape as being translucent with a lack of clarity, mirroring Hardy's first description of Tess. This first description of Tess as being discrete and cautious enables her to blend in with the...