Monday, September 21

Drawing / Tess of the D'urbervilles

Hello everyone! I have another addition to my What I'm Watching series today. The other day I had a long routine train journey to take and I wanted to find something to watch on my phone to make the trip less of a mission and more of a happy chill out time.

Granted, I may be one the one person on earth that would call watching Tess of the D'Urbervilles a happy chill out time (aside from you, Alex, if you're reading-- you are the second person and therefore the exception that proves the rule) but it is my fave.

Those of you that have been following my drawing posts may be expecting me to take this moment to say that, yes, I love the series but I couldn't stand the book, was forced to read it at uni etc etc.

HOWEVER, this is the only book where that doesn't apply. I love Tess of the D'Urbervilles in every form (aside from maybe the slightly weird musical adaptation), and is the only book I've ever read that I relished reading on repeat, and was unabashedly chuffed appeared on the syllabus at uni. In fact, looking back, it may well have been one of the reasons that swayed me towards studying English in the first place, if you can bloomin' well believe that. I've read it every year since I first read it, with this year being the only exception purely because I lost my original copy and I can't cope with the thought that I might have to buy another one to replace it.

Anyway, after finishing watching Made in Chelsea on catchup, I decided to add a bit of culture back into my life and downloaded episode one of the BBC miniseries on iTunes. Having not watched the TV version for years, and having read the book for essays in second year and again for my dissertation in third year, it was surprising how many literary allusions I noticed that I hadn't spotted the first time around, like Tess' little strawberry dress (beware for literary analysis ahead)

In the novel, there's a scene where Tess is asked by the seedy and lecherous Alec if she likes strawberries, and she replies, "yes, when they're ready". He, showing off, goes on to show her his fancy modern greenhouse where he can grow strawberries all year round, contrary to Pastoral babe Tess' come-when-you're-ready, God's Will way. Anyway, he forces Tess to put is berries in her mouth (innuendo intentional), showing his dominance over her and also his ungodly power over nature to have his way with strawberries whether they're ready or not. He has the same power over Tess, later on-- having his way with her when she is definitely not ready. And how did the BBC classics department subtley allude to this through the medium of costume? By putting her in a little spotty strawberry coloured dress. I mean, fellow English grads, stick up for me here-- we live for this stuff. Plus, I mean, cute. She looks like a little fruit.

Anyway, it was the inspiration for this illustration in the end. The peonies are there not just because they're my favourite flower (to match my favourite book), but also because I remember writing in an essay once about a scene where Tess herself is compared to one (I'll spare you that analysis for another time).

Until next time,

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