Tess of the DUrbervilles
Thomas Hardy
Contributed by Harvey Landy
Symbols
Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
Brazil

Brazil, where Angel goes to seek his fortunes after rejecting Tess, is a symbol of Angel’s idealized vision of the world. Brazil is an exotic, far-off fantasy land to the 19th century English characters, and Angel thinks of it as an unspoiled place to practice his agricultural skills. When he actually gets there, however, he becomes sick and weak, and all his farming endeavors fail. Angel’s experience in Brazil is symbolic of his relationship with Tess; it is romanticized and idealized, but then the stark reality appears and destroys his fantasy.

Prince the Horse

Prince is the Durbeyfield family horse, and their principal means of livelihood. When Tess accidentally causes his death, she feels guilty enough to go work for the d’Urbervilles, which begins the action of the story. Prince acts as a symbol of the d’Urberville family, in that he has a noble name but is reduced to menial labor to survive. His death is also a symbol of the theme of Nature versus modernity, as Prince the rural horse is gored to death by a modern mail cart. The death by stabbing and his blood spreading over Tess’s white dress foreshadows Alec’s murder as well.

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