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-  157   - “I don’t know about ghosts,” she was saying; “but I do know that our souls can be made to go outside our bodies when we are alive . . . A very easy way to feel ’em go,” continued Tess, “is to lie on the grass at night and look straight up at some big bright star; and, by fixing your mind upon it, you will soon find that you are hundreds and hundreds o’ miles away from your body, which you don’t seem to want at all.” —Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles All major turns of plot in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles occur in some relation to sleep—the death of Prince,Tess’s rape, Angel’s burying of Tess, Tess’s capture at Stonehenge. Sleep rehearses loss before the event, as the loss of conscious awareness.And sleep prepares for loss—of virginity, of love, of life—upon awakening to its real experience. A different movement of consciousness happens in moments of daydreaming in the novel. Tess transfixed wearing flowers; Tess mesmerized as if in another world while working on the threshing machine;Tess dreaming out of a window.These waking dreams set her consciousness in another place that make a space for her to occupy, alone, apart from the world before her, before Alec forces her attention in each instance back on him, her consciousness forced to be defined in relation to him. Significantly, when Tess moves into these states of liminal consciousness, or waking dreams, she goes, as she says “outside her body,” a state she claims she can will. Lying down on the grass as if asleep or even dead and fixing her mind on a big, bright star, Tess says that her mind travels far from her body, that which “you don’t seem to want at all.”Why does Tess not seem to want her body at all, her beautiful body, which everyone else seems to want most of all? “That Blue Narcotic Haze” Dreams, Dissociation, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles Chapter 6 n Part III: Thomas Hardy and Nonintrospective Consciousness -  158   1 . A story of “O” Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a novel of evolutionary metamorphosis—metamorphosis that emerges from the ebb and flow, forward and back, forward and back—circles and circles that plot not just repetition, but evolution. “O” is the fundamental geometry of the novel, perhaps of all Hardy’s novels. The “O-O-O” sound the landlady overhears leaking out from inside the shared apartment of Tess and Alec in Sandborne we see, drawn on the page before our eyes, and etched as the plot’s course over and over again. The “O” holds motion, a circling motion that retraces itself as it widens over increasing space and time. Tess walks or rides from her home in Marlott to the Chase, returns to Marlott and goes to River Var, returns to Marlott and then moves to Flintcomb-Ash, makes her final return home to Marlott to finish drawing the widening circle’s arc with four new places linked together by her movement from one to the next. Kingsbere/Sandborne/Stonehenge/Wintoncester—these are Tess’s temporary destinations until she is no more and Liza Lu stands there in her stead, hand in hand with Angel.Tess, caught and executed, metamorphoses into Liza Lu, who, with Angel, continues to trace the human march first begun by Eve, caught and punished, who, with Adam, is sent out of Eden. The motion of the “O” is one of return and extension. Taken as a whole, Hardy’s narrative defines a physical universe of “O”: time is a mix of the past that repeats in the present as it changes into the future; space contracts and expands; motion extends and returns. And it is an experiential universe of the “O”: the inescapability of the “no way out” of a limited set of possibilities finds its way out by chance to new possibilities through substitution, replacement, and reconstitution. Like the phases of the moon that trace physical change in relation to what came before, the novel plots experiential change over time, holding onto the same presence as it transforms into difference with chance encounters.The novel evolves from Phase One to Phase Seven, from “The Maiden” to “Fulfilment,” from the stabbing death of Prince to the stabbing rape of Tess to the stabbing murder of Alec, from passion-hearted to hardhearted to tender-hearted Angel...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814270929
Related ISBN
9780814251744
MARC Record
OCLC
868220158
Pages
218
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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