"I Can't Get out of This Dreadful Tree!" by Charles S. Reinhart. 7 ¼ x 9 ¼ inches (18.5 cm high by 23.5 cm wide). Chapter Four of Thomas Hardy's "Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid" in Graphic (Summer) 25 June 1883, 22.

Passage Illustrated: "And you shall have a ball-dress!"

"What — can’t you dress yourself?" he inquired from the back of the trunk.

"Yes; but I can’t get out of this dreadful tree!"

He came round to the opening, stooped, and looked in. "It is obvious that you cannot," he said, taking in her compass at a glance; and adding to himself; ‘Charming! who would have thought that clothes could do so much! — Wait a minute, my little maid: I have it!" he said more loudly. [Chapter IV, The Graphic, 8]


The formal clothing in the second illustration sharply contrasts Margery's Wessex dress and milkmaid's bonnet on the first. The formal ball gown and the Baron's formal attire reveal not only how the unknowing peasant-girl ids being absorbed into the wealthy foreign aristocrat's social sphere, but also exemplifies how nature (the well-known landmark of the hollow tree in the boreal forest) is attempting to impede this process. Readers would have noted the element of seduction in Margery's agreeing to accompany the Baron to the yeomanry ball without either her father's knowledge or permission, the moral equivalent of the offense of "breaking fence" of which she was guilty in the initial illustration and second chapter. In The Graphic, this plate on page 22 compels the reader to revert to the narrative in Chapter IV (on page 8).

Related material

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Allingham, Philip V. "The Original Illustrations for Thomas Hardy's The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid." The Thomas Hardy Journal 16, 3 (October, 2000): 45-62.

Hardy, Thomas. "The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid." Illustrated by C. S. Reinhart. The Graphic (Summer) June 25 1883: 23; Harper's Weekly (14 July 1883): 437.

Purdy, Richard Little, and Michael Millgate, eds. Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy, Oxford: Clarendon, 1978-88. Vol. I (1840-92), 1978.

Ray, Martin. Thomas Hardy: A Textual Study of the Short Stories. London: Ashgate, 1997.

Created 27 September 2007

Last modified 7 August 2020