“Tess of the D’Urbervilles” was written in 1892 by a very famous and well known author named Thomas Hardy.
In the story, we learn how Tess, an interesting, innocent, naive country girl, has the misfortune of having an extremely gullible and unintelligent father, who is told that his family (the Derbyfields) are distant relatives of a family who are named D’Urberville. Due to this misapprehension, Tess is sent on a journey to seek ‘treasure’ (or in this case money and acknowledgement) from these so called D’Urbervilles.This journey leads Tess to a series of unfortunate events which prove to be bad. When she first finds the D’Urberville mansion, to her astonishment, she finds a newly built house (for that era) as apposed to an ancient mansion, this was much unanticipated. It is at this point in the tale that both we and Tess gain knowledge of the fact there is something ‘fishy’ going on, or in other, more adequate wording that something is not as it ought to be. In Ian Sharp’s version (a film), it is in this scene that we are introduced to the villain of the story, Alec D’Urberville.
Tess assumes that he is a distant cousin, little does Tess know that Alec’s family simply bought the title and had no connection with the name D’Urberville whatsoever. Alec is portrayed as a womaniser; Ian Sharp has decided to express this in a very particular way. (In 1998), when the film was made, the film makers were limited concerning technology, so Ian S...
harp has used special techniques to make Jason Flemyng (who plays Alec) seem as he does. Ian Sharp has used a number of techniques to make this sequence what it is.
The location of this scene helps the audience to take in how rich these D’Urbervilles really are and how they choose to express this. When Tess first arrives, she is flabbergasted to find out that the D’Urberville mansion is not an ancient relic as it were, but one of modern design and newly laid red bricks! As she is walking towards the grounds of the house, there is an establishing shot which views a magnificent house and next to it are some stupendously tall bushes (this is highly technical use of camera angles). Next to them strolls Tess, looking very small and immaterial.This gives the audience an idea of how rich, powerful and important the D’Urbervilles are compared to Tess, who is a poor country maid, with no significance.
The first interaction between Alec and Tess starts when Tess is walking next to those substantially large trees and we hear laughter in the milieu; this shows clearly that someone is having a good time. This enhances Alec’s importance. Shortly after, Tess finds herself staring out into a lake near the house, behind her, (where the audience can glimpse but Tess cannot) we see a figure standing in the doorway, he lights a cigar as he walks towards her.Smoking shows a sign of evil as it is a vice, or at least an indulgence; this represents a man with bad inner character. The spectators can clearly see that before
Alec reveals himself to her, he is ‘eyeing her up’ as one would say in slang, and thinking dodgy thoughts, as it were, clandestinely in his head. What goes on where Alec is concerned is only visible to Tess after the audience first sees him.
As soon as Alec makes verbal contact with Tess, she abruptly stops looking into the lake and becomes rather perturbed. This shows that Alec has an air of authority about him, enhancing the fact that Alec is superior due to his clothing.Another inkling that the audience may pick up on is that Alec’s clothing appears very high in quality, thus showing his eminence, whereas Tess’s clothes are those of a poor, straightforward and innocent girl. This heightens Alec’s worldliness! Also Alec’s jacket and his trousers are a very light shade of vanilla, or to the untrained eye, white. However, his waistcoat (on the inside) is an extremely dark, sinister shade of black.
This is quite obviously intended to symbolise Alec’s kind and helpful character that appears on the exterior, but his evil and villainous character of his inside.Hence his caricature nick-name: Alec D’Urbervillain. The first line we hear Alec say to Tess (before she notices his sudden presence) is along the lines of, ‘well, my beauty’. This shows the beginning of Alec’s seduction of Tess. Clearly he is a womaniser, to so assertively and confidently call someone ‘my beauty’ the first time you meet them, insinuates personal ownership.
After this he says, ‘… what can I do for you? ‘ this makes Tess feel indebted to him, which is always a bonus. Tess replies, ‘I came to see Mrs D’Urberville.
.. ‘ in a very uneasy manner and a Dorset accent.Alec explains to her that this will not be possible, as Mrs D’Urberville is his mother, and is an invalid (blind and in a wheelchair).
As Alec says this, he walks over to a nearby table and picks up a drink of what seems to be red wine, this would have been particularly rare during this period and to add more style, it is in a very ornamental and what would seem to Tess as expensive glass. When Tess attempts to explain her reason for her unauthorised presence, Alec chuckles and walks round her, as if to imply that she is his ‘prey’. The fact that he laughed at her shows that he is an evil man and has most probably antagonised Tess!To add more reason to show that Alec is a villain, he has a drink and does not offer one to Tess, as if to say ‘you’re a young country girl and shall not have a drink! ‘ After Tess explains her presence, little does she know that Alec’s family only bought the name and had no association at all (as was previously mentioned). When Tess suggests that she might leave, Alec is very quick to think of reasons or excuses to influence her to stay a while longer.
He gives her reasons to stay and convinces her to let him show her around the grounds to ‘pass the time’ for a while.During this
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