Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles allows one to both enter and explore the world of Tess who possess little to no autonomy, which ultimately leads to her downfall. This poignant tragedy portrays that one must take control of their destiny and be assertive. Hardy ploughs deeper into the society of Tess’ time to take a critical stance on the hypocrisy of organized religion and the ironically judgmental nature of it. He furthermore explores the notion of ‘conversion’, and questions its sincerity.
Through Hardy’s novel, one is able to enter a new world, and learn about the factors and experiences that shape one’s life.
Through the study of Tess’ tragic life, Hardy enables the reader to learn about the importance of free will, and taking charge. Though Tess is often perceived as a victim of her malevolent society, her selflessness, pride and extreme sense of duty, unravel themselves to be one of the major underlying factors that contribute to her destruction.
Tess’ extreme sense of duty pushed her to make the delivery, when her father was too drunk. “Oh no, I wouldn’t have it for the world… I could go”, the high modality in Tess’ language, conveys the responsibility she feels to make things right, when her family isn’t capable of such.
Tess’ selflessness and overbearing sense of responsibility is seen when she kills prince, and hysterically begins to overwhelm herself with rhetorical questions “What will father and mother live on now? ” She can only think of her family and this emotionally tortures her as she feels extremely guilty. Hardy further emphasizes the notion of Tess’ guilt through metaphorically comparing her to a murderess “Her face was dry and pale, as though she regarded herself in the light of a murderess”.
Though the death of prince was not of Tess’ fault she took on the full responsibility and this tortured her. By selecting the word ‘murderess’, Hardy negatively and violently connotes the burden this his placed on Tess’ shoulders. It was these heightened and extreme emotions which led Tess to Alec. Hardy’s allows the reader to fully immerse themself in Tess’ life and illustrates the consequences that arise from taking matters to extreme and being too self-depreciating. Hardy furthermore questions the notion of fate and whether humans possess free will.
He states that it is wrong to solely blame ‘fate’, when wrong and unjust events take their place. This is revealed after the ambiguous seen in which Tess was raped by Alec. As Tess’s own people down in those retreats are never tired of saying among each other in their fatalistic way: ‘It was to be. ’ There lay the pity of it”. A critically despondent tone conveys that Hardy believes that it wasn’t ‘meant to be’. People could have stood up for Tess and stopped this. Therefore, the real tragedy lies, in society’s way of thinking.
Tess’ character is seen as powerless and a victim of many factors such as her society, however in Phase the Seventh, Tess finally takes control of her own fate, through the killing of Alec. Yet Hardy illustrates that perhaps it is too late for Tess. “The oblong white ceiling, with this scarlet blot in the midst, had the appearance of a gigantic ace of hearts” – 382 Hardy’s interjection of the ace of hearts, formed by Alec’s blood, is symbolic of the gamble the killing of Alec was to Tess. It also signifies the power and strength of Tess.
The colours red and white are a reoccurring motif, white suggesting innocence and red representing passion, aggression and sin. Through Tess, finally took control of her own fate, it was too little too late, as the irreparable damage had been done. Through Hardy’s novel, the reader enters the tragic world of Tess and learns about the importance of strength and fighting for autonomy. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Hardy, allows the reader to enter a new world and learn about Tess and her society. Hardy voices his opinion on the hypocritical nature of organized religion in society , thus promoting a self-determining spirituality.
Tess’ pregnancy and birth, was considered scandal and turned into gossip that the villagers could entertain themselves with. The tragedy and irony of Tess’ situation is that she is subjected to this at church, where she is meant to feel secure and be free of any judgment. “She knew what their whispers were about, grew sick at heart, and felt that she could come to church no more” – Page 85 Hardy uses extreme emotive language, to portray the sadness of Tess’ situation. It is of great irony, that people who are at church to pray and listen to the word of God are subjecting Tess to judgment.
This puts into play, Hardy’s ideals about the hypocrisy of organised religion. As a result of the judgmental nature present within society, Tess is unable to give her child a proper Christian burial. As a justification to not doing so, the parson states “I would willingly do so if only we two are concerned. But I must not — for certain reasons” page 97. Though the parson knows that it is right to bury the child, he expresses with high modality that he won’t. Once again Hardy illuminates the hypocrisy present within organised religion and the grave consequences it has on people
Cite this Main Character of Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Main Character of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. (2016, Sep 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/tess-of-the-durbervilles/