Why was Tess’s girlish purity lost? Why did such a beautiful, noble and pure woman as Tess should suffer inevitable ruin? Why does the wrong man take the wrong woman? Why it is always the woman who pays? Why they are always hurt? Why is beauty damaged by ugliness? Why the tragedy is happened more than one hundred years ago repeated in modern times? Is everything too late?
Recently I’ve read the British famous writer Thomas Hardy’s masterpiece-Tess of the D’urbervilles. It describes the misfortune of a poor peasant girl Tess. In this novel, we can see Tess resist her unjust fate again and again, till to be ruined. With the development of the plot we find that her tragedy is inevitable. We can not but feel the intense emotions of pity and fear.
The cause of Tess’s tragedy has always been the concern of people, such a beautiful, noble and pure woman as Tess should suffer inevitable ruin. What leads to her tragic destiny? Who killed her? I can’t do very well in analysis the novel. I don’t know clearly how the time she lived in affect her life. I do have an understanding of the novel by myself. Alec and Angel who are the two people very closely related to Tess’s fate. I think fierce Alec played a very important role in killing Tess, but in fact, it was hypocritical Angel who killed Tess indirectly but more cruelly.
I wanted to cry, Tess, do not follow him when I read that plot. I hope she met her true love before she was seduced, but everything was too late. She was seduced by a so called gentleman-Alec, and from then on her life totally changed from this loss of innocence. People looked down on her and respect her no more. Actually she did nothing wrong because before she was seduced she knew nothing of man. Women were too weak. Tess was poor, weak and helpless and met the wrong person at the wrong time.
I strongly believed that it was Angel who killed Tess cruelly and without mercy. Angel was a liberal bourgeoisie. He made himself lived in the countryside rather than serving the god. Angel was a man who questioned the church’s teaching. He thought the church’s views were too strict and did not allow free thinking. Angel extricated him from religion and his family, but he couldn’t break with traditional moral principles. He wanted a wife who was the daughter of nature, honest, sensitive, intelligent, graceful, pure as snow and extremely beautiful. In the first part I thought Angel loved tess very much. In the following part I found that he loved an image he imagined. After their wedding Angel confessed the crime he committed to a woman long time ago and asked Tess’s forgiveness. Tess was not at all angry and forgave angel at once. She innocently thought that the thing she was going to confess would be forgiven. Poor Tess! She sat and told everything to angel, hoping he would forgive her as he was forgiven, but she was wrong. The woman pays.
Angel claimed that you were one person, now you are another when tess asked why. The woman Angel had loved was not tess, was another woman in tess’s shape. Angel loved the person he imagined. He considered tess the daughter of nature. Compared to tess’s words, “ I thought angel, that you loved me-me my very self! If you do love me, how can you treat me like this? It frightened me! Having begun to love you, I will love you forever, in all changes, in all troubles, because you are yourself. I ask no more.” we know how deep tess loved angel. She would have laid down life for angel. She not only loved the merits but also accept the demerits. We know from the book that when angel came back from Brazil, he could hardly be recognized by his mother because the cruel climate and hard work had aged him by twenty years, but tess accepted angel immediately, because he was the man she fell in love with.
I don’t know why angel couldn’t forgive tess since he himself had done the similar thing.
The reason I read it
As a English mayor , I prefer watching foreign films. Occasionally , I encountered a film named Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The gorgeous plot and characters impelled me to read the famous essay.
1. Brief Introduction of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy was a famous British novelist and poet. He carried forward and developed the literary traditions of the Victorian Age. He described the tragic plots vividly and truthfully in his works. He was considered as “Shakespeare of British novels”. Hardy was born in an architect’s family and was expected to become an architect. He trained as an architect and worked in London and Dorset for ten years. Hardy began his writing career as a novelist in 1871 publishing Desperate Remedies. He was soon successful and left architecture for writing.
Hardy was pessimistic about life. The main theme of his novels is the futility of man’s effort to struggle against cruel and unintelligible fate, chance, and
circumstances, which are all predestined by the immanent will. He bravely challenged many of the sexual and religious conventions of the Victorian Age. He exposed the
hypocritical morals, laws and people’s miserable life, especially the women’s life in social economic, politics, morals, custom, etc. after the invasion of industrial capital to the British villages. He described people of different social classes. He was good at viewing life with “a tragic light”.
The story is about the tragic life of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor family. She is sent to work as a maid for d’Urbervilles, because she has to support her poor family. Tess is seduced by Alec, the son of the family which she serves for, and then gives birth to a child. However, the child dies in infancy, which makes her very depressed. After that, she goes to work on a dairy farm, and then she is engaged to Angel Clare, the son of a clergyman. On their wedding night, they tell each other about their past hoping to be forgiven by each other. However, Clare leaves her after that because he can’t accept the truth. Then Tess becomes a labor again. She is insulted and ill-treated by her master. What’s worse, her father’s death and the bad condition of her family drive her to seek help from Alec who is a preacher now, and she can do nothing but to abbey him. Angel Clare comes back and wants to be reconciled to Tess, but the fact that Tess’ living with Alec hinders her from coming back to Clare. At last, Tess kills Alec in despair and she is soon arrested, tried and hanged.
3. Character Analysis
Tess ------the leading lady
Intelligent, strikingly attractive, and distinguished by her deep moral sensitivity and passionate intensity, Tess is indisputably the central character of the novel that bears her name. But she is also more than a distinctive individual. Hardy have ever said that her eyes are “neither black nor blue nor grey nor violet; rather all these shades together,” like “an almost standard woman.”
In my part, Tess represents the changing lady of the agricultural workers in England in the late nineteenth century. Also Tess is a symbol of unclear and unstable notions of class in nineteenth-century Britain, where old family lines retained their earlier
glamour, but where cold economic realities made sheer wealth more important than inner nobility.
Beyond her social symbolism, Tess represents fallen humanity in a religious sense, as the frequent biblical allusions in the novel remind us. Just as Tess’s clan was once glorious and powerful but is now sadly diminished, so too did the early glory of the first humans, Adam and Eve, fade with their expulsion from Eden, making humans sad shadows of what they once were. Tess thus represents what is known in Christian theology as original sin, the degraded state in which all humans live, even whenlike Tess herself after killing Prince or succumbing to Alecthey are not wholly or directly responsible for the sins for which they are punished. This torment represents the most universal side of Tess: she is the myth of the human who suffers for crimes that are not her own and lives a life more degraded than she deserves.
Alec is a representative of the bourgeois society’s authority, the wealth and the evil. He has an aristocrat d’Urbervilles surname, a large amount of money and a great power which dominate the local people. He takes advantage of Tess’ poor family condition, and tempts her with money to go to his family as a servant. He always forces Tess to do something she is not willing to do. For example, when in the cart, Tess wants him to slow down, but he says that he will not do unless Tess let him “put one little kiss on those holmberry lips” (Hardy p57). That is a total insult to Tess. Then he seduces Tess, destroying her chastity which means all her life. At the end of the story, when Tess’ father dies, and her family is homeless, Alec “helps” her again. He tells Tess that her family can move to his cottage, and “the children can go to school” (Hardy p385). In fact, he just wants to possess Tess. He is full of violence and plots. He says that he is Tess’ “friend”, but he is unlikely to treat Tess as his real friend because they belong to different social class and they have totally different status and life experiences.
Angel is a representative of the traditional moral concepts. At that time, the whole society is full of those ridiculous traditional moral concepts. At first, Angel considers Tess as the fresh and virginal daughter of nature” (Hard p131), but when he knows the history of Tess, he abandons her. He says “forgiveness does not apply to the case. You were one person; now you are another” (Hardy p247). It shows the traditional moral concepts are still deep-rooted in his mind. Angel is born in a pastor family, but he refuses to go to college and to be a pastor “serves for God”. On the contrary, he chooses to work on a farm and “serves for the humanity”. It seems that he is a person who has already run away from all traditional concepts. He falls in love with Tess, a dairy woman, and he doesn’t care whether she is born in a good family or not. It seems that his love to Tess is true love. However, when it comes to marriage, he still considers Tess’ social status. He wants Tess to take “mistress Teresa d’Urbervilles as her name and he claims that the change “may take an appreciable difference to acceptance of you as my wife”. “After I have made you the well-read woman that I mean to make you” his mother will think much better of her. This means he holds the same idea as his mother to some extent.
Firstly I want to say that Tess’ tragedy comes from her helpless and pessimistic characters. As I know, the Durbeyfields were born with downfallen clan. I even called back to mind the dialogue from Tess of the D’urbervilles:
“Tess, are stars either good or bad?
“Yes. I think each star represents a family. ”
“Is our star bad?”
“I think so.”
From the above dialogue I got that Tess is pessimistic about her life and reality, which press her to ask Alec for help and laid the seed of her tragedy .She becomes Alec’s victim in the forest. She probably should have known not to put herself in such a situation, but she has few other options. Here, it seems as though she is destined to rely on others, even when they are unreliable.Therefore, I should recognize that her family acts as a considerable accomplice with Alec to a certain extend.
Secondly, I am dedicated to analysis the three characters’ attitudes towards love. Who is to blame for this tragic love? Alec, Tess or Angel? Or ridiculous fate? I believe it was Tess herself. Certainly, that bad age and those hypocritical men were executioners
that push Tess into the abyss of destruction. But Tess should have led a better life if she don’t treat herself as a satellite of men. How stupid is she to spend her life waiting for a man who betrayed her and escaped away when she was dying for help! When there is no help offered by men, women should fight on their own instead of waiting for men’s mercy and forgiveness since there is nothing needed to be forgiven.
All in all, Women’s tragedy will never come to an end until they treat themselves as totally independent, which means they can lead a normal life with or without men.