Extremities Essay, Research Paper


In Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the Durbervilles, Tess worked in two extremely

differentiating places. Both Talbothay’s and Flintcomb Ash represented a time in her life

whether it be favorable or horrid. Both of these spots contributed a deep meaning to the


The happiest days of Tess’s life were spent on a dairy farm called Talbothay’s. It

was there that she met Angel Claire, with whom she had desperately fallen in love with

and married. Talbothay’s was used as a symbol of grandeur in Tess’s life. It was there

where she found meaning in her life for the first time in the novel and became content

with herself. However, it all came to an abrupt end when she married Angel and told him

of her affair with her cousin Alex. Angel was devastated and left her to fend for herself.

This is when her life got much harder. Through a friend, she got a job working for

Flintcomb Ash. It was a physically exhausting job, in which she had utter hatred for.

While there she ran into her cousin Alex. This only worsened her terrible state of mind.

From then on she longed for the days with Angel at Talbothay’s.

Talbothay’s and Flintcomb Ash differ extremely in their descriptions. Talbothay’s

was a Utopia in Tess’s life. It was depicted with luscious greenery and rolling hills. It


located in the Vale of Froom, which was known for its rich and fertile soil. There


could bother tess. Flintcomb Ash was a barren wastelan characterized by misery and


It was a cruel place in which Tess spent the worst days of her life. There she found the

meaning of true wretchedness, but at the same time began to appreciate her days at


The descriptions Hardy used to depict the two places were central to the meaning

of the work. The descriptive writing lets tthe reader not only see both places, but feel

them as well. This allows the reader to find apathy for Tess’s situation and take pity on


The contrast made between talbothay’s and Flintcomb Ash was used to symbolize

the enormous conflict Tess’s life dealt with. Through this type of writing the reader


to see that no matter how bad a person might think they have it, someone else has always

got it worse.

Bloom, Harold. T.S. Eliot. Pennsylvania:Chelsea House Publishers,1999. 60-68.

Curley/Kramer, eds. Modern American Literature:Vol. 1. New York:Frederick Ungar

Publishing Company, 1969. 340-341.

Perkins, George, ed. Benet’s Reader’ Encyclopedia of American Literature. New

York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.300-301.

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