Tess of the D’urbervilles
Nicholas Sconzo Mrs. Blankenship AP Literature and Composition – Period 5 29 October 2012 2011 Form B AP Essay – Tess of the D’Urbervilles Finding true love can be one of the most difficult yet most satisfying things in the world. In Tess of the D’Urbervilles, fate proved to be the determining factor when finding true love. Over the course of Tess’s life, she was taken advantage of and swindled until the happy times with Angel when her life turned around. Marrying Angel was a difficult step for Tess due to her haunted past, and when Angel learns of Tess’s past, he decides to leave her.
Angel proved through sleepwalking with Tess in his arms that he truly did love her, illuminating his true feeling and foreshadowing what would later occur in the novel. In writing Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hardy uses all of the morals and values present in the Victorian era to base the plot of the story on. In the novel, the most recurring theme is most likely that of purity being determined by self-sacrifice, not by forceful actions. Tess is a woman that is pure at heart, very loving of those around her.
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She cares for all of her family and goes off on her own to help support the family. In the Victorian era, the woman’s sole purpose was to be the caretaker of the family, a role that Tess willingly takes on due to her loving nature. The purity of her soul is immense, but according to Victorian virtues, this purity is solely determined by chastity. When Alec D’Urberville takes advantage of Tess, she loses her Victorian purity. She feels wretched, cursed to never find true love.
Tess, however, finds this love just three years later on a dairyfarm, when she falls in love with Angel. Tess, realizing that she is a damned soul and is incapable of love due to her lack of purity, attempts to push Angel away. Angel’s love for Tess is too strong, though, and they eventually marry. Tess then feels obligated to finally tell Angel of her cursed past, revealing her loss of chastitiy due to her giving in to Alec’s way. Angel is shocked, so shocked in fact that he instantly decides that he is going away from Tess and will leave her on her wn. This is when the illuminating episode occurs. Angel sleepwalks that night, carrying Tess out in the freezing cold to a graveyard while whispering sweet nothingness into her ear. This trip reveals that Angel truly does love Tess, and that he always will, until the day she dies and even after. The illuminating episode functions as a “casement” to the meaning of the work as a whole by foreshadowing future events. Angel does go away, but the reader knows that a strong bond of love still exists between Tess and Angel.
Tess gets taken advantage of once again by Alec, something that was bound to happen due to Angel’s leaving. Angel returns from Brazil to try to earn back Tess’s love, something he does quickly due to the bond still existing and the true love never ending. Tess, however, kills Alec for lying to her and taking advantage of her, so Angel and Tess run off together. They end up at Stonehenge, the ancient sacrificial site. Here, Tess and Angel are found, and Tess’s spirit is released while in Angel’s arms, something that was alluded to earlier at the illuminating episode in the graveyard.
Tess is executed, but her soul and love are at peace with Angel. Tess of the D’Urbervilles clearly displays that purity and love are not determined by chastity. Purity and love are determined by pureness of heart and the strength of the ability to spread care and kindness to those who you love. The illuminating sleep-walking episode depicts the main theme of the novel, since the purity was not lost by Tess due to Alec’s taking advantage of her, but rather Tess gave her purity to Angel with her pureness of heart being self-sacrificed to Angel.