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Stonehenge

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Chapter 4 Journal Activity

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Quintessentially British, Quintessentially Unknowable and Evocative.

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It is very difficult to pick one aspect of British culture, from the many, to identify Stonehenge's influence. I suppose it must be literature, as the piece that most affects me is the image of Tess of the D'Urbervilles spending her last night in the henge.

Its place in British mythology is so powerful, that to match the powerful emotions at play in Hardy's tragic story, this seems at once a fitting and an unsettling conclusion. She is hunted, she is cold, she is lost, but Stonehenge gives her some strange sort of comfort. It is an enduring symbol.

She sleeps exhausted on the altar. It has a permanence, when all else passes away. Even those coming to capture her, respect her last moments of peace in this somehow 'sacred' place, and do not wake her. A place of sanctuary and sacrifice. It would have been too easy and cliched to have her rest by the slaughter stone and that is not what Hardy wanted. He wanted this very British story to conclude with a sort of mystery at its heart. She is offered up.

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