Compare And Contrast The Novels Dear Nobody

Compare And Contrast The Novels ?Dear Nobody? And ?Tess Of The D?urbervilles? Essay, Research Paper

????????? The two

novels in question, ?Dear Nobody? and ?Tess of the D?urbervilles? (hereafter

referred to as ?Tess?), raise surprisingly similar issues for books written in

such different times and among such varying attitudes. However, the period

difference does highlight some major contrasts, most relevantly, the censorship

that would have taken place, had Hardy alluded to any details concerning sex or

seduction. In both books, the situations and moral messages reflect the

author?s opinions and ideas on ethical subjects such as premarital sex,

pregnancy, single motherhood, and above all, the trials and tribulations of

love.????????? Obviously, the two heroines, Tess

Durbeyfield and Helen Garton, were born into very diverse circumstances: Helen

came from modern day family, with every opportunity to do whatever she wants to

in life available to her. Tess, by contrast, was brought up in a poor, country

family from the 1890?s. This simple but vital contrast, is highlighted, perhaps

inadvertently, by Hardy?s colloquial use of old, country dialect in the

characters? speech, such as, during Tess? conversation with her brother

Abraham, ?Bain?t you glad that we?ve become gentlefolk,

Tess?? ?Not particular glad?, and in Mrs. Durbeyfield?s

proud announcement to?? her husband,

?I?ve got miself a projick?. For Tess, there was nowhere really for her to go.

She couldn?t have had a career to speak of, only to become a farmer?s wife, nor

could she have moved away from her village and family without a husband, as

that would have been seen as inappropriate. It would have been presumed that

Tess? life would have become very much like her mother?s: she would have

married, become a mother, and lived as a housewife. ? ???????? However, neither of the girls

fulfilled the fate that was expected of them for the same reason: they both

partake in pre-marital sex leading to the conception of a child. So, for Tess,

as her future depended mainly on finding a good and loving husband, Alec?s

actions towards her effectively ruined Tess? life.? The circumstances in which the sex evolved, however, could not

have been more different, and the authors use different descriptive techniques

accordingly.??????? ?Helen and

her boyfriend, Chris, both consent willingly to intercourse. They

were very much in love, with a lot of trust in their relationship, and Doherty

portrays that with her simple but beautiful description, ?Helen and I touched

each other where we had never touched each other before and made love.?? Her language does however contain a hint of

sadness, ?a pale and watery moonlight cast the room into white ghostliness,?

which indicates some of the problems and misery that lie ahead as implications

of sex.??????? Tess? relationship contained no love

on her behalf, and although Alec hints at his love for her frequently, he never

actually declares it, merely implies it by scolding her for not loving him,

?don?t you love me ever so little now?? There

is deception in their relationship. Alex deliberately misleads Tess into

thinking they are related by calling her ?Coz?. Tess is also very wary of him,

perhaps even scared: ?I don?t want anybody to kiss me, sir!? Hardy portrays

this fear with his eerie and confusing descriptions, leaving the reader unsure

as to exactly what has happened, ?everything else was blackness alike, and upon

her eyelashes lingered tears.????????? Hardy avoids details of the tragic

rape, by using metaphors, for several reasons. Firstly, he wants to leave some

details to the readers? imagination, thus not dispelling the air of mystery

that he created with his narrative. Secondly, he wishes to protect the dignity

of Tess, with whom, during the writing of the book, Hardy seems to have fallen

in love, so that she remains pure and unsullied in the eye of the reader.

Finally, the simplest, yet probably the most influencing reason is that if the

author had included graphic descriptions, it is not beyond the realms of

possibility that the book would have been banned.???????? The heroine?s reactions to pregnancy

are almost impossible to contrast, as we know little of Tess during her

confinement, only that her own family feel that she has sullied their name,

which is ironic, as it is clear that her mother?s intentions were for her to be

with Alec. Due to Doherty?s original style of narration, however, with Helen?s

letters to her unborn child, ?Dear Nobody?, and Chris? account, the reader

experiences the feelings of the people involved first hand.???????? Helen?s initial reaction after

suspecting that she might be pregnant, is anger and coldness towards Chris:

?You don?t own me you know, just because of what we did together?, she seems to

undergo a complete personality change, making Chris? life miserable. In the

same way, Tess is angry and cool towards Alec the morning after: ?How can you

dare to use such words??, as he refers to his love for her. ???????? Similarly, both Chris and Alec react

in the same way, wishing to provide for their partners, as Alec says, ?I am

ready to pay to the uttermost farthing.? Helen

and Tess both refuse this help however, but for different reasons. Tess

refuses because she wants nothing to do with Alec: ?I have said I will not take

anything more from you, and I will not.? She is also very proud and stubborn,

so once she realised that Alec has not only lied to her but also abused her,

she would rather die than take anything from him. Helen refuses, however, out

of her love for Chris, not wanting to ruin his chance in life.???????? Helen seems to become very depressed

during her pregnancy, denying it to start with, then resorting to drastic

measures, trying to kill the baby by throwing herself off her horse: ?My arms

and legs flung about, loose and useless. The base of my spine buffeted the

saddle. My ribs felt as if they had burst apart. The only thing in my mind was

Chris.? This senseless but touching act of devotion to Chris is emphasised by

Doherty?s portrayal of her terror, and the first person account of Helen?s

thoughts at the time. This action also brought about the first person?s

guessing of her pregnancy, which she had been keeping secret until then.???????? All that Hardy says of Tess?

behaviour during her pregnancy, is that she goes into a long period of

seclusion, which is not surprising, considering the attention an unmarried,

pregnant woman would have drawn in that period of time. It appears that the

only time she ventures out is to go to church, at which Tess feels

uncomfortable and conspicuous, as if everyone there is laughing at her.

Although not during pregnancy, it is apparent after the birth that Tess also

wanted to rid herself of the baby, ?she wishes the baby and her too were in the

churchyard?. However, when faced with the reality of losing their babies, both

girls undergo a dramatic change of heart, Helen before the birth and Tess just

after.???????? Helen, following her first crazy

attempt at losing the baby, then tried a more conventional method: abortion. It

was when at the abortion clinic, that Helen was forced to rethink her, up until

then, firm decision: ??.and when I was lying there, in all that silence, I felt

as if I had become two people.? Helen seemed to bond with her baby there and

then, as is apparent from her ?Dear Nobody? letters. Their content before and

after the episode of the abortion clinic changes dramatically: before, she

wrote as if? ?Nobody? was the enemy,

something to struggle against. Afterwards, however, it seems as if they have

joined forces, Helen and ?Nobody? against the world. Doherty uses the irony of

this sad statement to portray not only her dire situation, but also the

confusion both ?girl-mothers? were feeling.??????? For Tess, however, it is not until

after the baby?s birth that she realizes that she loves it. On the night

of? ?Sorrow?s? illness, Tess becomes

distraught at the thought of losing him, ?O merciful God, have pity, have pity

on my poor baby.?, and more importantly to her, because of what Christians

believed at that time, that her baby might die unchristened, and therefore be

destined to spend the rest of eternity ?in limbo? between heaven and hell.??????? This is one period during the novel

where Hardy questions the morality of society, and the influence it has over

people like Tess: ?Alone on a desert island

would she have been wretched at what had happened to her? Not greatly.? Hardy

criticises the hypocrisy of the people around Tess, pointing out that although

they are perfectly happy to entertain themselves with gossip about her, and use

her as a ?moral warning,? feeling themselves to be superior to her, they can

also condemn a new born baby to becoming ?an offence against society? just

because of the way in which it was conceived, and then deem to call themselves

moral and just.??????? This area is also one in which the two

author?s style differ majorly. Hardy?s

omniscient narration allows him to imprint on the reader his own questions and

outrages, the reader hearing his thoughts expressed almost as a soliloquy,

?But, might some say, where was Tess? guardian angel??, whereas Doherty uses

Chris and Helen as puppets, to say what she wants to say through them, in a

form easier to identify with.????????? Another significant difference between

the girls was the fact that Helen had people she could talk to about her

situation. She had the obvious option of her best friend, Bronwyn, on whom she

seemed to rely quite heavily during the tough times. Although she didn?t

necessarily always want him, Chris was always there for her if she needed him,

as was her mother, even though it may have been difficult for both of them to

talk about it, she would have been there to support Helen had anything bad

happened. She also had Jill, who although was an adult, had a good attitude

towards the situation, and helped Helen a great deal. ? ????????? Tess on the other hand, had none of

this support to fall back on. Her mother was much more distant from her than

Helen?s mother, to such an extent that they hardly spoke. Tess? father was so

ashamed that he wouldn?t even let the priest in to baptise the child as it was

dying. She also had no close friends that she could tell all her problems to.

It appeared in fact that she only had her religion to rely on, but it seemed

that God wasn?t listening to her either. In the end, she had no one, which

certainly must have made her ordeal so much worse.?? ??????? Almost as important as the reaction of

the main characters to their troubles, is the reaction of the people around

them. Both Helen and Tess were hurt and disappointed by their mothers?

reaction, which was one of anger and disgust. Helen?s mother scolded her for

having sex, ?after all I?ve told you?, whereas Tess reprimanded her mother for

the opposite reason, ?if only you?d have told me.? In both cases, mother and

daughter outwardly tried to shift the blame onto each other, although all of

them almost certainly blamed themselves inside. ???????? In both novels, the general reaction

from people not close to the girls is one of interest, as Doherty says, ?They

regarded [her] as somewhat of a curiosity?, and as Hardy says, ?she was the

most interesting personage in the village to many.? The crowds of schoolgirls

around Helen were content to sit back and snigger at Helen?s trouble, none

attempting to hide what they thought of her. The workers around Tess seemed to

admire her courage, even though they still did this behind her back, as they

didn?t appear to want Tess to know that they didn?t think badly of her. They

would rather Tess suffered, thinking that everyone hated her, than give the

impression that they condoned her actions.???

??????? Just as their mother?s reactions

differ, so do their final relationships with them. Hardy attributes much of the

blame for Tess? ruin to her mother portraying Tess? reluctance to go to Alec

overpowered by her mother?s persuasion. It is therefore not surprising that

Hardy chooses to leave their relationship broken until Tess? unfortunate death,

when it was too late to resolve, thus making her mother seem even more hateful

in the reader?s eye.??????? Helen and her mother, however, after

the initial coldness between them, grow closer towards the end of the book,

after Mrs. Garton reveals to Helen that she herself was illegitimate, and

therefore knew the hardships involved. Conversely,

she realized that in today?s society, it matters very little if a baby is born

out of wedlock, being a far more accepted common occurrence rather than an

ostracised sinful deed. Doherty does this to show that single mother?s these

days can survive, as long as they have support from their families.??????? ?Dear Nobody? also ends happily in the

fact that Helen and Chris, although not becoming a couple again, do share the

birth of Amy, and are both a part of her life. On the contrary, Tess, as well

as ruining her short-term life as he rapes her, Alec is also the reason for her

ultimate demise, as she is hanged for his murder.??????? In conclusion, coming from different

eras, one might not expect Hardy and Doherty?s main moral messages to be the

same. Most are however, and the two writers are in agreement as they say that

both mother could have and would have survived with a baby in their worlds, had

it not been for the attitudes of the people close to them. Indeed, Helen does

survive, with Amy becoming ?a fine thread being drawn through a garment,

mending tears.? Hardy

also makes it clear that Tess would have had a wonderful new life with Angel,

had his timing been different. So, although both pointing out the sometimes

terrible consequences of having a baby without a husband, neither writer

condemns it.? Rather they condemn

society for exacerbating the inevitable struggle of being a single mother. ???????? ???????? ???????? ????????



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