The passage from Tess of the d’Ubervilles begins in an idyllic pastoral country setting but the tone shifts very quickly from charming to fear laden. The diction in the passage creates an eager and passionately enthusiastic tone until line five where a new reality “showed itself “. The rest of the passage portrays angst and apprehension.

Thomas Hardy's narrator Tess, walks to the dairy farm for the first time and is surprised how terribly insignificant it makes her feel. She compares herself to a fly on a pool table looking to the left and right and seeing nothing but green, fighting the realization that like that fly she had no consequence on her surroundings. The world seems very large to her, especially since she didn't even know her destination.


Tess hears the call of the farmer bringing the cows into the barn. Being milked encapsulates their job and acts like a beacon calling her towards the same barn, and towards her future. The enclosures for the cows seems gigantic to her and very ancient. The ancient feeling of the large barn makes her feel even more insignificant as if the cows are simply more important than she is at that moment. She speaks of the cows shadows on the walls and notices how they portray larger-than-life leaders including ”Alexander, Caesar, and the pharaohs” but she never speaks of her own shadow on the wall, because she remains insignificant.

Not knowing her place in the world Tess feel less than the milking cow. At least the milking cow knows where it belongs. The milking cows understand the call of the farmer. They know their duties and oblige willingly their life is “inconceivable in its profundity”. Tess feels brand-new to the surroundings without a call yet. She longs for a time when someone will make her feel as important as the cows are to the farmer. Perhaps one day someone will call her to do her job in the dairy. She will walk one path that she will repeat many times before her days are done. She will continue for all the days after, doing the same thing. Walking on well-worn paths that reflect her importance in the same way that the barn reflects the cows importance to the farmer. Tess walks towards her future and she wishes she felt important enough to the farmer for him to call out to her too.