Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Louis H. Leiter

First Committee Member

Charles Clerc

Second Committee Member

William O. Brodsley [?]

Third Committee Member

Ruth Marie Fourot


In Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles a relationship exists between the symbolical sacrifice of Tess at Stonehenge and her association with fertility, ritual, and mythic cycles of seasonal death and rebirth. Because Hardy associates Tess with fertility, reproductive power, and seasonal change, she personifies nature and closely resembles the earth mother goddess Demeter. Ritual is evident in her participation in the May-Day club revel, in her intended suicide under the mistletoe, and in her manner of killing Alec d1Urberville. Myth cycle culminates with a fertility ritual in the powerful sacrificial incident at Stonehenge, for, although Tess physically dies at Wintoncester, she symbolically dies at Stonehenge. Following her execution, the significance of her symbolic death at Stonehenge becomes apparent in her rebirth in 'Liza-Lu, In the Demeter-Persephone myth, two anthropomorphic entities, the mother and the maiden, enact the single phenomenon of organic nature--the principle of life seen in the seasonal growth of vegetation. Tess, then, as mother symbolizes the end of the old year's crops, while 'Liza-Lu as maiden signifies the fructification of Tess's seed in the burgeoning fertility of the new year. By being reborn in 'Liza-Lu, Tess thus completes the mythic pattern of seasonal changes.





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