Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy Essay Example
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy Essay Example

Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy Essay Example

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  • Pages: 3 (642 words)
  • Published: May 29, 2017
  • Type: Analysis
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Thomas Hardy highlights multiple concerns throughout phases one, two, and three of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. These concerns relate to Tess's life and the world she lives in. One significant concern is the influence of fate on Tess's journey and the foreshadowing of forthcoming events. Unfortunately, experiencing injustice is a result of this, as Tess is penalized for infringing upon society's perceived laws. Tess endures an unfair life, which is conveyed through her unfortunate experiences and the resulting consequences she must face. At the beginning of the novel, Tess refers to our planet as a “blighted” star when she takes her brother Abraham to deliver beehives for their father.

From the very beginning of the novel, Tess experiences unfair treatment due to living in a fallen world. This is exemplified by the loss of her family's name


, wealth, lineage, and lands, all of which have also fallen. Even the death of the family horse, Prince, is blamed on Tess, despite it not being her intention to kill him. When Tess returns home after being raped by Alec D'Urberville and without a husband, her mother, Joan Durbeyfield, shows disappointment and anger towards her daughter's experience. She even compares Tess to other women and demonstrates no compassion towards her. "'Any woman would have done it but you!'" her mother exclaims.

Hardy emphasizes Tess's innocence and lack of understanding regarding the severity of what has happened to her, as well as her mother's failure to inform her due to Alec's potential interest in Tess. The presence of fate and God's role in Tess's life is demonstrated through foreshadowing tragic events; the belief that they inhabit a 'blighted' star indicates

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corrupting events to come. This foreshadows Alec's mistreatment of Tess rather than innocent, true Angel desiring her and implies that Tess's destiny has already been predetermined. In contrast to Victorian ideals that aligned social respectability with religion conformity, the novel shows that people could purchase their way into the middle class, exemplified by the Stoke D'Urbervilles.

Thomas Hardy extensively explores the clash between natural and social laws in his analysis of Tess's family's loss of respectability, despite conforming to religion and residing on a star marked by misfortune. This raises the question about whether or not God is on Tess's side. Hardy's critique prompts readers to empathize with Tess and her predicament. He opposes social laws with natural laws and argues that Tess is not violating natural laws. Additionally, he criticizes the societal expectations that suggest only men should be experienced while women should not be.

Alec considers Tess to be vulnerable and he is acutely aware of his position in the middle class. The possibility of a man from his class marrying a "farm girl" like Tess is unfathomable. Hardy argues that the baby has violated a social law, but since it is a natural occurrence, it has not contravened any natural laws. This demonstrates Hardy's opposition to social customs and recognition of natural laws. Tess, however, feels that she has indeed defied a natural law due to the punishment she endures, but the innocence of her situation and what happened to her was entirely natural, rendering it impossible for her to have broken any natural laws.

Hardy’s initial concerns in the novel hold immense importance in Tess’s life later on. The usage of foreshadowing to predict

upcoming events emphasizes the role of fate and God in Tess’s life. The unjust treatment faced by Tess and her family highlights the inequity prevalent at that time. Furthermore, through contradictory comments about society including natural and social laws, Hardy emphasizes these issues and their impact on the characters. While social laws during this period are condemned, natural laws are acknowledged and given importance.

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