I’m asking for some advice and hopeful one of you out in the blogosphere can help.
Can anyone recommend a good writing software, preferably free, such as Scrivener etc?
It’s mainly for short story writing.
Thank you in advance 😀
The 19th Century was rich in women writers and characters. They introduced a woman’s perspective in literary writing which had never seen before. They also showed the role of women struggling in the face of social conflict, an imbalance of class prejudices followed by some sort of redemption. However, in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, written in 1891, Thomas Hardy does not open the prospect of this kind of balance. The novel was a new form of writing, a literary form between individuality and the real world. When Hardy wrote Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the novel was the ideal form to cater for the tragic tale of real life and to show how the world is being perceived. DH Lawrence stated, ‘The novel is the perfect medium for revealing to us the changing rainbow of our living relationships’ (Lawrence, 1979, p180-181). James Joyce blended myth and modern life in his novel Ulysses and Hardy also makes use of the idea of myth and mythology creating Tess as a tragic heroine. Robert Longbaum argues that ‘the characters’ total immersion in nature suggests pastoralism… with the obvious definition of pastoral as an idealising picture of country life implying its superiority to city life’ (Longbaum, 1995, p67). Hardy uses the countryside setting as a paradox for modern life. The industrial revolution took place between the 18th and 19th Centuries creating factories, mass production and new technologies in farming and other industries. Although the town and cities were experiencing the industrial revolution in full swing, the countryside had yet to experience these changes. Hardy argues that countryside is where you can standstill and contemplate the world and environment. He also rejects the city and modern life and argues that you can only ever gain a sense of what is happening in the world by being in the countryside. Hardy also questions religion, specifically Christian values and through the themes of nature and the psychology of the heroine, the text can be regarded as a ‘modern novel’.
Tess is a modern character in contrast to her setting in that she is in the middle of nature and modern life and both are coming at her from different angles. She is also naïve having had no guidance about the world from her parents. Yet when she is pushed into a corner, she stands her ground like a true heroine. When Alec questions her regarding why she came to Trantridge, as it wasn’t for her love of him, Tess replies, ‘My God! I could knock you out of the gig!’ (Hardy, 1998, p77). Hardy is showing that even though Tess is not worldly, she stands up for herself. It is Tess’s guilt though which propels her towards Alec after her family are without their means of support. She has a sense of duty to her family, to be the breadwinner and support them. This is a very modern view that she has taken on herself and Hardy shows Tess does not give this a second thought. She does not fit in with the society she lives in and has her own values. On the night in The Chase, Tess’s innocence and virginity are taken by Alec and Tess is ultimately damned by the society in which she lives as she is no longer seen as pure. Indeed, ‘An immeasurable chasm was to divide our heroine’s personality thereafter from that previous self of hers who stepped from her mother’s door to try her fortune at Trantridge poultry-farm’ (Hardy, 1998, p74). The result of Tess’s violation by Alec is a child she names Sorrow. On her return home, she questions her mother, ‘How could I be expected to know? I was a child when I left this house four months ago. Why didn’t you tell me there was danger?’ (Hardy, 1998, p82). Tess then has to face the village and carries the shame that society bestows upon her. In true modern style though, Tess defies society and does not hide away once the baby is born. Ellen Rooney argues that Hardy aestheticizes Tess to make her ‘…intensely literary- symbolic, tragic, eloquent- in her flesh, her eyes, her voice, her face’ and that ‘…sexual experience is to a woman what literature (and looking at Tess) is to a man’ (Rooney, 1998, p476). This shows that Tess’s character is as complex as literature itself and Hardy’s modern approach to a female psyche is truly modernistic of the Victorian era.
Nature has a very important role to play in showing how modern Tess of the D’Urbervilles is. Hardy portrays nature as commenting actively on what is happening around Tess. When Tess’s mother suggests a local boy takes her father’s horse to market to deliver the beehives, Tess won’t hear of it, saying “‘Oh no- I wouldn’t have it for the world!’ declared Tess proudly. ‘And letting everybody know the reason- such a thing to be ashamed of.’” (Hardy, 1998, p29). Tess feels responsible for the family and takes on the role of the breadwinner. This showed Tess to be a modern character. Unfortunately, when she falls asleep in the cart the family’s horse is killed and she immediately blames herself. The order of nature is disrupted and all of nature mourns for it, ‘The atmosphere turned pale, the birds shook themselves in the hedges, arose, and twittered’ (Hardy,1998, p33). Tess has a real connection with nature; she represents it and in this particular passage, nature itself is connecting with Tess’s sorrow. This antagonism with the world of nature and social concerns stands out in that Tess is very close to nature. She is unspoilt and authentic as is nature and bears the burden of conflict with nature. Nature comes alive, it is a part of what is happening and is commenting actively. When Tess hears the dying pheasants:
Tess’s first thought was to put the still-living birds out of their torture… ‘Poor darlings – to suppose myself the most miserable being on earth in the presence of such misery as this!’ (Hardy, 1998, p279).
Tess is incredulous at the plight of the pheasants and puts their misery before her own. She is somebody who represents the voice of nature and her inner turmoil can be reflected in nature itself with this selfless act. This is a new approach to modern life. She is so close to nature and that is why she is such a modern character. Hardy has a new vision of the countryside. New technologies are coming into the farming industry which Tess is part of yet there is a battleground for modernity here as the old way is still seen as better than the new way. When Tess is working at Flintcomb-Ash Farm, she mans a thresher machine that the old men talked of ‘the past days when everything…was effected by hand labour, which, to their thinking, though slow, produced better results.’ (Hardy,1998, p326). Here Hardy is showing us that even though the industrialisation is on the horizon and marching its way towards the countryside, it was not necessarily the way forward for a modern way of life. These old men being living proof that this is the case.
When Tess realises her baby is dying, her first instinct is that the child needs to be baptized. Her father reacts vehemently to Tess’s request for the parson, saying ‘no parson shall come inside his door…prying into his affairs…when, by her shame, it had become more necessary than ever to hide them’ (Hardy,1998, p93). Tess then takes it upon herself to baptize the infant to ensure its holy passage to the Almighty exclaiming, ‘O merciful God…have pity on my poor child’. (Hardy,1998, p93). When it becomes clear that the parson will not undertake a Christian burial, Tess defies the church and decides to bury the child anyway in a forgotten corner of the graveyard and makes a cross from wood and string. This empathy with death was another modern view and Tess’s defiance shows how she isn’t controlled by the Catholic church and the modern approach of burying the child herself shows that she did not fear God or any other human beings. Hardy also shows here the connection with the modern world when Tess puts some flowers in a jar of ‘Keelwell’s Marmalade’ (Hardy, 1998, p97). The jar is a leading motif for nature versus capitalism. We can see that industrialisation and the city are never too far away but Hardy’s use of that particular jar in an act of such purity is mocking the modern world. Tess’s thoughts are to keep the flowers alive yet it shows the imbalance between the modern world and nature. Hardy is also criticising the logic of religion, which in itself was a modern view point. He also shows that the church is man-made and does not give you any sort of solace. Hardy also portrays Alec and Angel as good and evil, not only in the symbolic use of Angel’s name and Alec’s evil behaviour but as representatives of Christian values. Indeed, when Tess tells Angel of her past after they marry, she says ‘Forgive me as you are forgiven! I forgive you, Angel.’ (Hardy, 1998, p228). Angel has no Christian forgiveness in him for Tess and banishes her from him. Hardy is questioning religion and showing the reader through Christian ethics, neither man can save Tess. Tess is beyond good and evil, which are the central pillars of religion yet Hardy is suggesting that Tess’s denouncement of the church and leanings to paganism are the way forward. When Tess and Angel arrive at Stonehenge, it as though the balance of her disrupted life is restored as Tess lies on one of the slabs as if on an alter as a sacrificial lamb. She knows then that her time is ending soon and she has made peace with it. This denouement culminates with Hardy’s argument that going back to the beginning, to the point where everything began, is to be in control of modern life.
Written in 1891, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles was a thoroughly modern novel set in a true rural setting. At the time of realism, the novel was able to diversify new ideas and modern approaches. The simple setting of the countryside shows the reader where the truly modern life should be lived. Being at one with nature and the countryside, Hardy is portraying rural life as going back to a more simpler time; back to the beginning when life was easier. Hardy shows Tess to be a courageous woman under significant duress through society, nature and religion. She has a thoroughly modern approach in that she stands up for herself, defies the teachings of the Church and connects with nature in such way that she becomes one with it. The leanings towards Paganism also shows this disconnection with Christianity and how Hardy moved away from traditionalist views to a more modern outlook. Tess of the D’Urbervilles was an extremely radical novel because of these points compared to previous novels written around the same time and this radicalism coupled with the birth of realism show Tess of the D’Urbervilles to be a true modern novel.
Hardy, T. (1998). Tess of the D’Urbervilles. London, England: Penguin Group.
Langbaum, R. (1995). Thomas Hardy in Our Time. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press Ltd
Lawrence, D. H. (1979). ‘Morality and the Novel’. In: A Selection from Phoenix (pp175- 181) London: Penguin
Rooney, E. (1998). ‘Tess and the Subject of Sexual Violence: Reading, Rape, Seduction’. In: Riquelme, J.P. (ed). Tess of the D’Urbervilles- Thomas Hardy. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press Ltd.
Click here for my web page Cathy the writer
It might sound strange calling a blog post “What a Year” in the middle of June but my academic year has recently drawn to a close. Today I received the results of all my hard work, tears, often shouted “I can’t do this” and head-stuck-in-a-book weekends. I passed. Not only did I pass but I averaged a 1st for my first year at university doing my English degree. I’m completely over the moon ecstatic and somewhat amazed at myself.
A year ago, I was counting down the weeks until I started uni. Nervous about whether I would: –
Ok. So sometimes it did feel like they were talking a foreign language and sometimes I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about but that was ok. The lecturers were always happy to explain or go through anything whether after class or in their appointment times, which in all honesty they were always pushing to get us to come and see them! Biscuits were usually offered and a nice chat so I have taken them up on this a couple of times.
I did manage to read all of the books throughout the year although I didn’t understand some of them but that was ok too. Everybody has their own take on a book, whether you like it, hate it or simply don’t get it, you’re never going to like everything you read. That’s just a matter of taste and preference. The books were always interesting though and at times a little bit weird, (I’m thinking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead).
Well I wasn’t the only “old person”. There was quite a large number of mature students and the class was a real mix of ages. Everyone was really friendly and I have got to know some lovely people. We have quite the group of older students who meet up in the library for coffee and a chat, whether it’s about assignments, kids or the specials coming out in Aldi. God, we’re so rock and roll!
I was nervous last year before I started. I suppose you could call it fear of the unknown. Apart from a short course with the Open University a few years back, it had been 26 years since I was in education and that’s a bloody long time! I cannot begin to explain though how glad I am that I attended an Open Day last summer and was blown away by what Staffs Uni said to me. It didn’t matter that I had no A-levels. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t fresh out of college. I had life experience and a willingness to learn and that’s what mattered. My life seemed to open up at that point and I haven’t looked back since. There have been talks from past graduates about their career paths, trips to the theatre, a weekend away in Yorkshire to see the Bronte parsonage and so many more highlights.
So, for anyone out there thinking about starting university or going back to education, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Don’t be nervous. Yes, it’s life changing but in such a good way and the people you meet and the experiences you have along the way make it all worthwhile.
The Romantics believed in making everything beautiful. Everyday themes such as nature, death, poverty and childhood were taken very carefully into consideration and with a simple language were made for the everyman. They also had an appreciation of everything around them and wanted to beautify what they saw and put a sheen on everyday things. The beauty
and use of simple language meant that the lyrical ballads of Wordsworth and Coleridge were for everyone to understand. In Edmund Burke’s essay on the Sublime and the Beautiful, he states ‘the passion caused by the great and sublime in nature…is astonishment…that state of the soul in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror’, (Burke, section 1, 2017). The poetry of the Romantics was enriched by using the themes of poverty, death and childhood in a way that shocked the reader into some sort of cathartic state. During the period of the 17th and 18th Centuries, the Enlightenment movement, known as a time for reason and rationality, stood in the way of the Romantics who thought that the Enlightenment period was selective and short-sighted. However, the Romantics focused on every aspect of life. Wordsworth wanted to show society’s failings and how there was a need for change. As modernists, the Romantics had a true awareness of living in the now and commenting on social change for the good and bad.
In 1789, the French Revolution made a big impact on the Romantics. The middle classes killed off the aristocracy and saw the feudal system come to an end. This can also be seen in the poem The Female Vagrant, where Wordsworth focuses on vagrancy and the beginnings of industrialisation. The poem starts in the first person and has a rhyme scheme of ABAB, rhyming couplets at the end of each stanza and is written in iambic pentameter. Wordsworth tells the story of the young women’s life from small child to desolate vagrant in the form of a story. It has a breathless quality and encapsulates the imagination of the reader to a subject that was often ignored. The start of the poem shows how idyllic her life was, ‘Light was my sleep; my days in transport roll’d:/ With thoughtless joy I stretch’d along the shore’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p32). These two lines show the beauty in her surroundings and the lightness and simplicity of her life. As commercialism begins to roll in, the woman’s life is shattered when her father does not sell to the new landowner. Wordsworth is illustrating the change in society and encourages the reader to question it and sympathise with a plight that was happening in all parts of the countryside. Using punctuation designed to enrich the reader’s sympathies, we see the woman losing her home, ‘I could not pray:-̶̶-through tears that fell in showers,/ Glimmer’d our dear-loved home, alas! No longer ours!’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p33). This is designed to evoke sympathy in the reader and to understand what was happening to people’s lives. In Patrick Campbell’s Critical Perspectives, he states that the poem:
stresses the ‘sensational’ nature of the subject. For the ballad burns with social indignation both against grasping ‘townee’ landlords out of harmony with their human and natural surroundings, trying to ride roughshod over rural values with ‘proffered gold’ (Campbell, 1991, p107).
The poem then becomes a social commentary on the effects of capitalism marching forth and destroying everything that gets in its path. Wordsworth’s journalistic style in this poem emphasises this effect to catch the reader’s attention and show the true consequences for the people in the countryside. In line 89, Wordsworth refers to the end of the cotton cottage industry, ‘The empty loom, cold hearth, and silent wheel’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p34). This was another example of the poverty that was to come to those who were producing cotton in the ‘old way’ and were pushed out by the factories and mass production. The discourse used from lines 109 to 145 is designed to shock the reader, as the woman experiences, ‘disease, famine, agony and fear,’ (Wordsworth, 2103, p35). The full extent of the horrors experienced by those who were homeless are laid bare and Wordsworth does not want to shy away from them. In line 189, the woman cannot bring herself to beg, saying ‘Nor to the beggar’s language could I frame my tongue’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p37). In the final stanza, the woman can tell no more of her story as the sheer weight of her desperation becomes unbearable, ‘Oh! Tell me whither ̶ for no earthly friend/ Have I. ̶ She ceased and weeping turned away,’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p39). Throughout the poem, Wordsworth does not let the reader feel anything other than sympathy for the woman. None of what happens to her is her fault and in this way the challenge of aesthetically enriching the poem by representing poverty is done with great consideration.
Wordsworth stated that the ideas behind his poems were, ‘…to choose incidents and situations from common life and to relate or to describe them throughout…in a selection of language really used by men’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p96-97). This can clearly be seen in the poem Simon Lee. At the end of the 18th Century, the feudal system came to an end. Simon Lee had worked for a wealthy landowner of a country estate, who had since died and left no one remaining thus putting Simon Lee and his wife into extreme poverty. Wordsworth is showing the effect of the end of the feudal system and the poor were now adrift with the new structures in society. The poem has an ABAB rhyme scheme and is made up of 13 stanzas with differing metrical feet in the fourth and eighth line of each stanza. It also has a nursery rhyme style so at the time it was written, would have made it easy for people to read. The poems begins with, ‘In the sweet shore of Cardigan,/ Not far from pleasant Ivor Hall’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p44) and this gives the reader a soft and gentle introduction to the whereabouts of Simon Lee. Wordsworth is setting the scene to entice the reader in before telling the tale of his misfortune. In lines 15 and 16, the reader is told that although Simon Lee has lost an eye through his hunting feats for his lord and master, his cheeks are rosy and he appears happy with his lot. The shorter sentences in stanza’s four and five, ‘He has no son, he has no child/ And he is lean and he is sick’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p45) evokes pity with Simon Lee and his situation. The switch to first person narrator in stanza nine is where we see a call to the reader for their sympathies. The use of ‘O reader!…O gentle reader!’ in lines 73 and 75 is like a cry out to the reader for their understanding. Wordsworth enriches the poem by turning to the reader in this journalistic way and commenting actively on it. This was also a way of experimenting with the challenge of representing poverty. Poverty is something we can all see but generally tend to ignore. In the last three stanzas of the poem, the narrator steps in to help Simon Lee cut down a tree. The language used is gentle and evokes emotion in the way that when he is helped by the much younger man, he cannot express his gratitude enough, ‘The tears into his eyes were brought,/ And thanks and praises seemed to run’. (Wordsworth, 2013, p47). This brings a ‘happy ending’ to the poem but by making a powerful statement. Wordsworth became conscious of the environment and as such poverty became something that was not just political but something he wanted to change. It became a rallying cry for social change. This is a realistic ballad and Wordsworth made it beautiful by capturing the heart of the reader in a way that would have brought hope to the poor.
In the 18th Century, children were commonly regarded as little more than mini-adults or savages. Yet the discovery of ‘the child’ by the Romantics showed how we can learn from children. When attitudes began to change towards children, they were seen as impressionable uninformed beings requiring protection and attention. The Romantics idolised children and believed that the child was the real poet. In Johan Huizinga’s book Homo Ludens, the importance of play in culture and in particularly in poetry are described as, ‘To understand poetry we must be capable of donning the child’s soul like a magic cloak and of forsaking man’s wisdom for the child’s.’ (Huizinga, 2016, p119). Huizinga’s philosophy and the idea of becoming the child resonates with the Romantic’s way of thinking and exploring the simplicity of childhood. In the poem We are Seven, Wordsworth represents childhood very simply. With an ABAB rhyme scheme and made up of quatrains save for the last stanza, the poem is very musical and nursery rhyme like which enriches the reader’s awareness of childhood, as it mirrors the child’s thinking. The simple tone of the poem is in stark comparison to the idea of death which is discussed by the man and the child. In line 4, the narrator asks: ‘What should it know of death?’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p49) clearly defining the child as simple and unaware but as the poem continues, it is the child’s simple logic and understanding of an afterlife which is endearing to the reader. The description of the child in the second and third stanzas capture her innocence and bring her to life. In lines 11 and 12, she is described as ‘Her eyes were fair, and very fair,/ ̶ Her beauty made me glad.’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p49). The language used here shows how the child is not overcome by sadness; her eyes are bright and alive and this affects the man talking to her. It is enriched by the pause put in before the second line, showing the narrator considering her face and the innocence he finds there. The conversation that follows between the man and child regarding the whereabouts of her siblings is simple in language and form. The short sentences show this and the questioning by the man is simple and childlike. When the child says that two of her siblings are dead, line 47 is rich in simplistic rhyme befitting the child, ‘Their graves are green, they may be seen.’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p50). The poem shows how the child’s view of death illustrates that death is not really the end. The child is not angry with God for taking her siblings, showing a belief in the afterlife and that she will see them again. Indeed, she states in line 52, ‘Till God released her from her pain,/’ (Wordsworth, 2013, p50). She is almost grateful to God for her sister’s demise and does not blame Him for it. Wordsworth also uses nature in the poem to enrich our experience, setting the scene in a cottage by a church-yard. Children understand nature for what it is so the child is unaffected by living next to a church-yard and playing around the grave stones. This resonates with her beliefs about death and using the countryside setting enriches the reader’s experience. The final stanza is made up of five lines and not four as the preceding stanzas are. The child is convinced and will not concede defeat to the man’s superiority that her siblings are gone. Wordsworth’s use of five lines here is used to demonstrate the tenacity of the child’s belief. This shows us that to go back to an innocent way of thinking can teach us more about life as it is unsullied by the trappings of adulthood.
As modernists, the Romantics had a true awareness of living in the now. Their poems reflected the social change and a need for social justice. The challenges of representing the themes of death, poverty and childhood in poetry are aesthetically enriched by the language, form and underlying message. Wordsworth shows that the new way of thinking was something he could express for everyone. In Simon Lee and The Female Vagrant, Wordsworth highlights the fall-out from commercialism and the end of the feudal system, the way this affected people’s lives and challenges society to stand up and take notice. The style both are written in, reflect the then social climate and enrich the reader’s experience. In We Are Seven, the theme of childhood is portrayed in very simplistic tones to reflect the child in question. Although the poem is nursery rhyme like, the reader becomes aware that the child’s logic, whilst simplistic in nature, is more powerful than the man talking to her, as she is more open minded and does not require a logical explanation as the man does.
Burke, E. (2017). Extracts from A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas on the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757). Handout given on 3rd March 2017 by M. Jesinghausen
Campbell, P. (1991). Wordsworth and Coleridge Lyrical Ballads Critical Perspectives. Hampshire: Macmillan Education Ltd
Huizinga, J. (2016). Homo Ludens- A study of the Play Element in Culture. Ohio: Angelico Press
Wordsworth, W. & Coleridge, S. (2013). Lyrical Ballads 1798 and 1802. Oxford: Oxford University PressLink to my website