"To what extent does Hardy present the two vales as loci ameoni?"
In 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy creates two key vales as the central landscapes within the novel: 'The Vale of Blackmoor' and 'The Valley of Great Dairies'/ 'The Var Vale.'The two vales could also be seen as the valley of Tess's birth and the valley of her love. Whether Hardy portrays these vales as 'loci ameoni' is questionable.
The novel opens in 'The Valley of Blackmoor' which instantly sets it as an important area. To Tess, this is her home and it is characterised by the lower agricultural class and pleasant atmosphere, 'It is a vale whose acquaintance is best made by viewing it from the summits of the hills that surround it.' Although it does not seem to be portrayed as a pleasant or idyll place it can be viewed as a place of safety and comfort for Tess, her family and the other people that live there. Tess describes the 'Valley of Blackmoor' as 'fertile and sheltered.' The sense of fertility is rather ironic as the land that they farm lacks in life and growth. The only fertility that is ever experienced that we as the reader hear about, is the birth of Tess's baby but then this glimpse of fertility is erased when the baby dies. The word 'sheltered' could refer to the protection that it has for Tess. When Tess finds herself in times of trouble or difficult situations she always goes back to one place which she knows will make her feel a sense of security; 'The Valley of Blackmoor.'
In my opinion, I believe Hardy generates a paradoxical effect within 'The Valley of Blackmoor' as it is clear that it is a place of safety and comfort but at the same time it is a place of unpleasant mishaps. It is a place where it brings back memories of her flawed family, her father's drinking problems. It is a place where her baby died and also it is the place where her father died. All these bad memories are contained within a setting which seems to be so loving and pleasant. 'The...