Model Research Project

In each cell below, you will see a page from a critical article followed by an explanation for conversion of the material into a research paper.

"Let the Day Perish" by Irving Howe Page 62

As a writer of novels Thomas Hardy was endowed with a precious gift: he liked women. There are not, when one comes to think of it, quite so many other nineteenth century novelists about whom as much can be said. With some, the need to keep returning in their fiction to the disheveled quarters of domesticity causes a sigh of weariness, even at times a suppressed snarl of discontent; for, by a certain measure, it must seem incongruous that writers intent on a fundamental criticism of human existence should be sentenced to indefinite commerce with sex, courtship, adultery and family quarrels. Hardy, by contrast, felt no such impatience with the usual materials of the novel. Though quite capable of releasing animus toward his women characters and casting them as figures of destruction, he could not imagine a universe without an active, even an intruding, feminine principle. The sexual exclusiveness of nineteenth century American writing would have been beyond his comprehension, though probably not beyond his sympathy.
Throughout his years as a novelist Hardy found steadily interesting the conceits and playfulness of women, the elaborate complex of stratagems in which the sexual relationship appears both as struggle and game. He liked the changefulness, sometimes even the caprice, of feminine personality; he marveled at the seemingly innate capacity of young girls to glide into easy adaptations and tactical charms. And he had a strong appreciation of the manipulative and malicious powers that might be gathered beneath a surface of delight. Except perhaps with Sue Bridehead, he was seldom inclined to plunge into the analytic depths which mark the treatment of feminine character in George Eliot's later novels; but if he did not look as deeply as she did into the motivations of feminine character, he was remarkably keen at apprehending feminine behavior. He had observed and had watched, with uneasy alertness. The range of virtuosity which other writers had believed possible only in a stylized high society or sophisticated court, Hardy, in his plain and homely way, found among the country girls of southwest England.
Throughout Hardy's fiction, even in his lesser novels, there is a curious power of sexual insinuation, almost as if he were not locked into the limits of masculine perception but could shuttle between, or for moments yoke together, the responses of the two sexes. This gift for creeping intuitively into the emotional life of women Hardy
Commentary and Model Paper

Group paragraphs one, two, and three together because they share the same general topic, on Hardy's work and not on the novel itself.

Topic 1) Hardy often writes about women's domestic lives

Quote 1) "...he could not imagine a universe without an active, even an intruding, feminine principle" (Howe 62).

Topic 2) Hardy has an insightful understanding of the way women behave

Quote 2) "And he had a strong appreciation of the manipulative and malicious powers that might be gathered beneath a surface of delight" (Howe 62).

Topic 3) Hardy develops balanced female characters, ones who don't appear as stereotypes

Quote 3) "The feminine admixture is very strong in his work, a source both of his sly humor and his profound sympathy" (Howe 63).

Model Paper: Paragraphs One and Two

(note that one doesn't use the optional quote)

Howe explains that Hardy's frequent concern is based on the development of the full and complete woman, not a stereotype. He also contends that Hardy was effective in showing Tess of the D'urbervilles focuses on the characterization of Tess and the dominant role she plays in the novel. Howe believes she is both the central or key character of the novel and a model of perfected behavior, a natural woman rising above the repressive morality of her times.
Howe's opening passages deal with the full range of Hardy's work and his patterns as a novelist. "And he had a strong appreciation of the manipulative and malicious powers that might be gathered beneath a surface of delight" (Howe 62). Howe explains that Hardy's frequent concern is based on the development of the full and complete woman, not a stereotype. He also contends that Hardy was effective in showing the domestic side of women as a kind of nobility.

"Let the Day Perish" by Irving Howe Page 63

shared with a contemporary, George Gissing, though he was quite free of that bitter egocentrism which marred Gissing's work. And at the deepest level of his imagination, Hardy held to a vision of the feminine that was thoroughly traditional in celebrating the maternal, the protective, the fecund, the tender, the lifegiving. It was Hardy's openness to the feminine principle that drew D. H. Lawrence to his work and led him to see there, with some justice, a kinship with his own. One may speculate that precisely those psychological elements which led Hardy to be so indulgent toward male passivity also enabled him to be so receptive to feminine devices. He understood and could portray aggression; but at least as a writer, he did not allow it to dominate or corrode his feelings about the other sex-and that, incidentally, is one reason he does not care to pass judgment on his characters. The feminine admixture is very strong in his work, a source both of his sly humor and his profound sympathy.

It is in Tess of the D'urbervilles that this side of Hardy comes through with the most striking vitality. The book stands at the center of Hardy's achievement, if not as his greatest then certainly his most characteristic, and those readers or critics who cannot accept its emotional ripeness must admit that for them Hardy is not a significant novelist. For in Tess he stakes everything on his sensuous apprehension of a young woman's life, a girl who is at once a simple milkmaid and an archetype of feminine strength. Nothing finally matters in the novel nearly so much as Tess herself: not the other characters, not the philosophic underlay, not the social setting. In her violation, neglect and endurance, Tess comes to seem Hardy's most radical claim for the redemptive power of suffering; she stands, both in the economy of the book and as a figure rising beyond its pages and into common memory, for the unconditional authority of feeling.
Tess is one of the greatest examples we have in English literature of how a writer can take hold of a cultural stereotype and, through the sheer intensity of his affection, pare and purify it into something that is morally ennobling. Tess derives from Hardy's involvement with and reaction against the Victorian cult of chastity, which from the beginning of his career he had known to be corrupted by meanness and hysteria. She falls. She violates the standards
Commentary and Model Paper

Four will receive its own paragraph (model 3)

Topic 4) Tess is Hardy's full development of the sensuous, vital, and simple or natural woman.

Quote 4) "In her violation, neglect and endurance, Tess comes to seem Hardy's most radical claim for the redemptive power of suffering" (Howe 63).

Model Paper: Paragraph Three

Tess, according to Howe, is both milkmaid and model of feminine strength. What happens to Tess throughout the novel is always the reader's primary concern. "In her violation, neglect and endurance, Tess comes to seem Hardy's most radical claim for the redemptive power of suffering" (Howe 63). Her emotions are genuine and her suffering tends to make her stronger, qualities the reader must admire.

Five will receive its own paragraph (model 4)

Topic 5) Tess, through her suffering and failures, will become a very noble and admired character.

Quote 5) "... take hold of a cultural stereotype and, through the sheer intensity of his affection, pare and purify it into something that is morally ennobling" (Howe 63).

Model Paper: Paragraph Four

Howe explains that the character development of Tess is done in opposition to the Victorian values of his time. Hardy is able to "... take hold of a cultural stereotype and, through the sheer intensity of his affection, pare and purify it into something that is morally ennobling" (Howe 63). Her basic nobility of character and sense of honor become more important than moral codes. Howe shows that her mistakes are enacted through Christian beliefs as opposed to social morality.

"Let the Day Perish" by Irving Howe Page 64

and conventions of her day. And yet, in her incomparable vibrancy and lovingness, she comes to represent a spiritualized transcendence of chastity. She dies three times, to live again:- first with Alec D'Urberville, then with Angel Clare, and lastly with Alec again. Absolute victim of her wretched circumstances, she is ultimately beyond their stain. She embodies a feeling for the inviolability of the person, as it brings the absolute of chastity nearer to the warming Christian virtue of charity. Through a dialectic of negation, Tess reaches purity of spirit even as she fails to satisfy the standards of the world.

Perhaps because she fails to satisfy them? Not quite. What we have here is not the spiritual sensationalism of the Dostoevsky who now and again indulges himself in the notion that a surrender to licentiousness is a necessary condition for spiritual rebirth. Hardy's view is a more innocent one, both purer and less worldly. He does not seek the abyss nor glory in finding it. He is not a phenomenologist of the perverse. But as a man deeply schooled in the sheer difficulty of life, he does recognize that there is a morality of being as well as of doing, an imperative to compassion which weakens the grip of judgment. Once educated to humility, we do not care to judge Tess at all: we no longer feel ourselves qualified. And that, I think, is a triumph of the moral imagination.
In staking out these claims for Tess of the D'Urbervilles I recognize that Hardy's vision of Tess can hardly satisfy the rigorous morality of Protestantism which was a part of his heritage. Other forces are at work, both pre- and post-Christian: the stoicism of the folk ballad, from whose wronged heroines Tess descends, and the moral experiment of romanticism. Hardy could no more avoid the conditioning influence of romanticism than a serious writer can now avoid that of modernism; it was part of the air he breathed. His romanticism enabled Hardy to break past the repressions of the Protestant ethic and move into a kindlier climate shared by Christian charity and pagan acceptance; but it was also romanticism, with its problematic and perverse innovations, which threatened his wish for a return to a simple, primitive Christianity. In Tess of the d'urbervilles the romantic element appears most valuably as an insistence upon the right of the individual person to create the terms of his being, despite the pressures and constraints of the external
Commentary and Model Paper

Six will receive its own paragraph (model 5)

Topic 6) Based on the plot developments, it's unfair to call Tess an immoral character.

Quote 6) "...we do not care to judge Tess at all: we no longer feel ourselves qualified" (Howe 64).

Model Paper: Paragraph Five

Related to the previous concept, Howe feels it is unfair to consider Tess as an immoral person. Hardy never intends to have the reader judge her. "...we do not care to judge Tess at all: we no longer feel ourselves qualified" (Howe 64). Hardy, according to Howe, wants to show the pure and innocent side of life, qualities of an innocent person who can be admired but also exploited.

Seven will receive its own paragraph (model 6)

Topic 7) Romanticism allows Hardy to escape from the strict morality that was given to the central characters from other writers of his time.

Quote 7) "His romanticism enabled Hardy to break past the repressions of the Protestant ethic and move into a kindlier climate shared by Christian charity and pagan acceptance..." (Howe 64).

Model Paper: Paragraph Six

Though Hardy was a writer of the modern period, Howe states that his works reflect romantic values. "His romanticism enabled Hardy to break past the repressions of the Protestant ethic and move into a kindlier climate shared by Christian charity and pagan acceptance..." (Howe 64). Howe adds that this background made Hardy unique among the writers of his time.

"Let the Day Perish" by Irving Howe Page 65

world. Yet, because Tess is a warmhearted and unpretentious country girl barely troubled by intellectual ambition, Hardy's stress is upon the right of the person and not, as it will be in Jude the Obscure, upon the subjective demands of personality. Sue Bridehead anticipates the modern cult of personality in all its urgency and clamor; Tess Durbeyfield represents something more deeply rooted in the substance of instinctual life.

There are, to be sure, instances of self-indulgent writing in this novel which can be described as late-romantic, even decadent, but the controlling perception of Tess is restrained and, if one cares to use such terms, "healthy." Tess demands nothing that can be regarded as the consequence of deracination or an overwrought will; she is not gratuitously restless or neurotically bored; she is spontaneously committed to the most fundamental needs of human existence. Indeed, she provides a standard of what is right and essential for human beings to demand from life. And because we respond to her radiant wholeness, Tess stands somewhat apart from, nor can she be seriously damaged by, the romantic excesses into which Hardy's writing can lapse. Tess is finally one of the great images of human possibility, conceived in the chaste, and chastening, spirit of the New Testament. Very few proclaimed believers have written with so complete a Christian sentiment as the agnostic Thomas Hardy.
Simply as a work of fiction, Tess of the D' Urbervilles lies is singularly direct in its demands. It contains few of the elements we have come to know and expect in nineteenth century novels. There is little interplay of character as registered through nuances of social manners or the frictions of social class. None of the secondary figures has much interest in his own right, apart from his capacity to illuminate and enlarge the experience of Tess; all of them seem, by Hardy's evident choice, to be dwarfed beside her. The passages of philosophic comment, about which I will say more on a later page, surely do not provide a center of concern for the serious modern reader. And while the social setting --a setting that, in its several parts, forms a history of rural England leveled in space--comes to be quite essential for the development of the action, finally it is not to the world in which Tess moves, nor even the world Tess may symbolize, that we yield our deepest assent.
As for the plot, it seems in isolation a paltry thing, a mere scraping together of bits and pieces
Commentary and Model Paper

Eight will receive its own paragraph (model 7)

Topic 8) Tess's life promotes the best qualities of the true Christian philosophy.

Quote 8) "Tess is finally one of the great images of human possibility, conceived in the chaste, and chastening, spirit of the New Testament" (Howe 65).

Model Paper: Paragraph Seven

Howe shows the reader that Tess practices true Christian virtues, virtue that Hardy highly values. "Tess is finally one of the great images of human possibility, conceived in the chaste, and chastening, spirit of the New Testament" (Howe 65). According to Howe, Tess has an understanding of true human values that she knows through instinct, not religious teachings.

Nine will receive its own paragraph (model 8)

Topic 9) Tess is basically simple and direct. Yet, her development in the novel is its only complexity.

Quote 9) "None of the secondary figures has much interest in his own right, apart from his capacity to illuminate and enlarge the experience of Tess..." (Howe 65)

Model Paper: Paragraph Eight

Howe believes that this novel provides few important elements beyond Tess's characterization. This was done so the focus would be fixed on Tess. "None of the secondary figures has much interest in his own right, apart from his capacity to illuminate and enlarge the experience of Tess..." (Howe 65). The other characters, states Howe, are only there for expanding the reader's understanding of Tess.

"Let the Day Perish" by Irving Howe Page 66

from popular melodrama: a pure girl betrayed, a woman's secret to be told or hidden, a piling on of woes that must strain the resources of ordinary credence. Whether Hardy was deliberately employing the threadbare stuff of melodrama in order to transcend it, or whether he shared in the emotional premises of such fiction but through his peculiar genius unconsciously raised it to the level of abiding art (as Dickens repeatedly did), is very hard to say. Perhaps, in the case of a writer like Hardy, it is a distinction without much difference.

There is just enough plot loosely to thread together the several episodes that comprise the book, yet surely it is not here that one looks for Hardy's achievement. Tess of the d'urbervilles can, in fact, profitably be regarded as a fiction in the line of Pilgrim's Progress rather than in the line; of Jane Austen's and George Eliot's novels, for its structure is that of a journey in which each place of rest becomes a test for the soul and the function of plot is largely to serve as an agency for transporting the central figure from one point to another. Tess is clearly not an allegory and no one in his senses would wish that it were, but its pattern of narrative has something in common with, even if it does not directly draw upon, Bunion's fiction. There are four sections or panels of representation: Tessat home and with ALC; Tessat Talbot hays and with Angel; Tessat Flintcomb-Ash and again with Alec; Tess briefly happy with Angel and then in her concluding apotheosis at Stonehenge. None of these panels is quite self-sufficient, since narrative tension accumulates from part to part; but each has a distinctiveness of place, action and tone which makes it profitable to think of the novel as episodic. One is reminded of a medieval painting divided into panels, each telling part of a story and forming a progress in martyrdom. The martyrdom is that of Tess, upon whom everything rests and all value depends.
What matters in Tess of the D'Urbevilles, what pulses most strongly and gains our deepest imaginative complicity, is the figure of Tess herself. Tess as she is, a woman made real through the craft of art, and not Tess as she represents an idea. Marvelously high-spirited and resilient, Tess embodies a moral poise beyond the reach of most morality ;Tess is that rare creature in literature: goodness made interesting. She is human life stretched and racked, yet forever springing back to renewal. ( And what must never be forgotten in
Commentary and Model Paper

Combine ten and eleven in one paragraph (model 9)

Topic 10) The strength of this novel is certainly not plot.

Quote 10) "As for the plot, it seems in isolation a paltry thing, a mere scraping together of bits and pieces from popular melodrama" (Howe 65-66).

Topic 11) The plot provides a a link to the continuing series of experiences for Tess.

Quote 11) "... a journey in which each place of rest becomes a test for the soul and the function of plot is largely to serve as an agency for transporting the central figure from one point to another" (Howe 66).

Model Paper: Paragraph Nine

Howe contends that the plot is not very important to the quality of the novel. "As for the plot, it seems in isolation a paltry thing, a mere scraping together of bits and pieces from popular melodrama" (Howe 65-66). Howe also explains that the plot links a series of episodes in which Tess is the chief figure. Tess takes "... a journey in which each place of rest becomes a test for the soul and the function of plot is largely to serve as an agency for transporting the central figure from one point to another" (Howe 66). Thus, while the plot serves an important function, it lacks in complexity.

"Let the Day Perish" by Irving Howe Page 67

thinking about her, as in reading the book it never can be: she is a woman. For Hardy she embodies the qualities of affection and trust, the powers of survival and suffering, which a woman can bring to the human enterprise. The novel may have a strong element of the pessimistic and the painful, but Tess herself is energy and joy, life neither foolishly primitivenor feebly sophisticated. Though subjected to endless indignities, assaults and defeats, Tess remains a figure of harmony--between her self and her role, between her nature and her culture) Hardy presents her neither from the outside nor the inside exclusively, neither through event nor analysis alone; she is apprehended in her organic completeness, so that her objectivity and subjectivity become inseparable. A victim of civilization, she is also a gift of civilization. She comes to seem for us the potential of what life could be, just as what happens to her signifies what life too often becomes. She is Hardy's greatest tribute to the possibilities of human existence for Tess is one of the greatest triumphs of civilization: a natural girl.

Simply as a fictional character, she is endlessly various. She can flirt, she can listen, she can sympathize, she can work with her hands. Except when it is mocked or thwarted, she is superbly at ease with her sexuality. In no way an intellectual, she has a clear sense of how to reject whatever fanatic or pious nonsense comes her way. After pleading with the vicar to give a Christian burial to her illegitimate child, she answers his refusal with the cry: "Then I don't like you and I'll never come to your church no more." A mere instance of feminine illogic? Not at all; for what Tess is saying is that a man so seemingly heartless deserves neither human affection nor religious respect. And she is right. Her womanly softness does not keep her from dear judgments, and even toward her beloved Angel she can sometimes be blunt. "It is in you, what you are angry at, Angel, it is not in me," she pointedly tells him when he announces that he cannot accept her. The letter she sends Angel during the Flintcomb--Ash ordeal is a marvelous expression of human need: "The daylight has nothing to show me, since you are not here . .." At least twice in the book Tess seems to Hardy and the surrounding characters larger than life, but in all such instances it is not to make her a goddess or a metaphor, it is to underscore her embattled womanliness.
Commentary and Model Paper

Combine ten and eleven in one paragraph (model 9)

Topic 10) The strength of this novel is certainly not plot.

Quote 10) "As for the plot, it seems in isolation a paltry thing, a mere scraping together of bits and pieces from popular melodrama" (Howe 65-66).

Topic 11) The plot provides a a link to the continuing series of experiences for Tess.

Quote 11) "... a journey in which each place of rest becomes a test for the soul and the function of plot is largely to serve as an agency for transporting the central figure from one point to another" (Howe 66).

Model Paper: Paragraph Nine

Howe contends that the plot is not very important to the quality of the novel. "As for the plot, it seems in isolation a paltry thing, a mere scraping together of bits and pieces from popular melodrama" (Howe 65-66). Howe also explains that the plot links a series of episodes in which Tess is the chief figure. Tess takes "... a journey in which each place of rest becomes a test for the soul and the function of plot is largely to serve as an agency for transporting the central figure from one point to another" (Howe 66). Thus, while the plot serves an important function, it lacks in complexity.

"Let the Day Perish" by Irving Howe Page 68

The secondary figures in the book have useful parts to play, but finally they are little more than accessories, whose task is not so much to draw attention in their own right as to heighten the reality of Tess. Only one "character" is almost as important as Tess, and that is Hardy himself. Through his musing voice, he makes his presence steadily felt. He hovers and watches over Tess, like a stricken father. He is as tender to Tess as Tess is to the world. Tender; and helpless. That the imagined place of Wessex, like the real places we inhabit, proves to be inadequate to a woman like Tess--this, if message there must be, is the message of the book. The clash between sterile denial and vital existence occurs repeatedly, in a wide range of episodes, yet through none of them can Hardy protect his heroine. And that, I think, is the full force of his darkness of vision: how little can be done for Tess.
If we see Hardy's relation to Tess in this way, we can be a good deal more patient with the passages of intermittent philosophizing that dot the book. These passages are not merely inert bits of intellectual flotsam marring a powerful narrative. They are evidence of Hardy's concern, tokens of his bafflement before the agony of the world. At best, if not always, the characters in Tess are not illustrations or symbols of a philosophic system; at best, if not always, the philosophic reflections comprise a gesture in response to the experience of the characters. It is Hardy ruminating upon the destruction of youth and hope--and if we thus see Hardy's role in his narrative, we can grasp fully the overwhelming force of the lines from Shakespeare with which he prefaces the book: ". . . Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed/ Shall lodge thee." It is her only rest.

Works Cited Listing (for anthology only)

Howe, Irving. "Let the Day Perish." Twentieth

Century Interpretations of TESS OF THE
D'URBERVILLES.Ed. Albert LaValley.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice--Hall,
1969. 62-68.
Commentary and Model Paper

Fourteen will receive its own paragraph (model 11)

Use fifteen for quote in conclusion

Topic 14) Even though Tess is the focal point, Hardy's views are very important to the novel as a whole.

Quote 14) "Only one Žcharacter' is almost as important as Tess, and that is Hardy himself" (Howe 68)

Topic 15) Hardy's philosophy is a reflection of the true sympathy he feels for the fate of Tess.

Quote 15) "These passages [Hardy's philosophizing] are not merely inert bits of intellectual flotsam marring a powerful narrative. They are evidence of Hardy's concern, tokens of his bafflement before the agony of the world" (Howe 68).

Model Paper: Paragraphs Eleven and Twelve

According to Howe, while telling Tess's story, Hardy makes his perceptions of life and fairness equally important to those of Tess. "Only one Žcharacter' is almost as important as Tess, and that is Hardy himself" (Howe 68). Still, Howe contends that Hardy's sympathy does not make him protect Tess from the impending tragedy she must face.
In the end, Howe believes that this novel may more about Hardy's feelings on human tragedy than the story of one tragic character: These passages [Hardy's philosophizing] are not merely inert bits of intellectual flotsam marring a powerful narrative. They are evidence of Hardy's concern, tokens of his bafflement before the agony of the world (Howe 68). For the astute reader, both elements, Tess's tragedy and Hardy's philosophizing on man's state, have great value.