Manual Thomas Hardy: Tess of the dUrbervilles (Literature Insights)

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  1. Thomas Hardy: Tess of the D'Urbevilles' by Cedric Watts
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  3. Tess of the D'Urbervilles

With his reappearance in Phase Six Alec continues this oppression blaming what happened in the woods on Tess and making her swear not to seduce him again. When Alec questions Tess on her religious views, he quickly dismisses her answer as the opinions of her husband. In these conversations, Alec abuses his position as a man relying on the subordinate position of women in society as means for his poor treatment of Tess.

The reference to Tess as a slave solidifies her position as a subordinate to Alec and all other men. Through the power of the dominant male character of Alec, Tess submits and accepts her place in society as a victim. Even after his sexual conquest of Tess is complete, Alec abuses his power, treating Tess like a possession instead of a human. Unlike the Durbeyfields and Alec, Angel Clare has a much more indirect role on the submission of Tess.

Up until their separation, Angel is one of the few positive influences on Tess in the entire novel. Even after Tess tells him about her past, Angel tries not to hurt Tess. This concept is illustrated as Angel sleepwalks while carrying Tess across a river and places her in an empty coffin. This unquestioning submission provides further evidence that Tess is a blameless character and her tragedy is representative of all woman of the era.

Based on her position in society as a woman, there seems to be little Tess can do to avoid submitting to men. The double standard of the time used to judge men and women gives Tess no chance at rise above the oppression that rules her life. Through the conflict between Tess and the men in her life Hardy discusses a wide variety of problems with Victorian society.

Besides his literal critique of the position of women in society, Hardy uses the conflict between Tess and other characters to represent other problems of the time. The appearance of the threshing machine in the field after Alec tells Tess he will again be her master suggests that, like Tess, the land is submissive to this new form of agriculture.

Although generally submissive, there are points throughout the novel in which Tess struggles against her oppressors. Tess rejects the idea that she and her baby are outcasts with this symbolic act. This vivid description of Tess suggests that within her there is power; although this power is suppressed by society, it is occasionally presented to the world. This violence towards a man strongly contradicts the views a Victorian woman and represents the struggle of all women to fight back against the double standard that controls them.

DinadansFriend Sep 14, I'm pretty sure I read this back when I was living in London and had hour-long commutes, which gave me time for reading long books. The only thing I remembered was that Tess had some hardships and spent time one winter digging "Swedes" Swedish turnips; actually, rutabaga out of the frozen ground. Well, actually, that doesn't happen until well into the book, and is not exactly all that important in the overall story.

Quick synopsis: Tess, a beautiful, good hearted country girl, is driven insane by two privileged, egotistical assholes, one who takes pride in being rather a rake, the other a pompous, holier-than-thou moralist with a few skeletons in his own personal closet. But despite the gloomy plot trajectory, this is really a good book.

Thomas Hardy was a gifted writer. So, actually, Tess Derbyfield, is a beautiful, strong, hardworking country girl. Oh, I already said that. Anyway, her parents are rather silly, especially her father. The father hears that he is actually a direct descendant of a noble family, once prominent in their part of Wessex. The family was then known as D'Urberville, but all traces of the family seem to have disappeared.

Tess' parents discover a rich, old lady not all that far away who goes by the name of D'Urberville, so send Tess off to claim kinship, hoping to get some support thereby. Tess goes, but meets only the roguish son of the old lady, not the lady herself. But, Tess is offered a place tending to the old lady's chickens and teaching her birds to sing. That works for a while, but the son, Alec, continues pressing his attentions on Tess.

Thomas Hardy: Tess of the D'Urbevilles' by Cedric Watts

Eventually, Tess runs back home. But Alec insists on helping her flee from him weird, huh? Probably, he raped her, but books weren't all that explicit in olden days. All we know is that Tess returns home pregnant. Eventually, Tess has a baby.

The baby dies a few months after birth. Tess gets depressed. Eventually, she goes off to a farm in the opposite direction to become a milk maid. There is a well-off, third son of a clergyman, Angel Clare, working the farm.

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His father refused to send him to university because Angel wasn't theologically pure enough, or something , so the son must learn to make his way. His approach is to apprentice himself as a farmworker in a number of places so as to learn all the intricacies of farming. Then he'll buy a farm, either in England or in America or the colonies. All the milkmaids fall hopelessly in love with Mr. Clare, but he clearly favors Tess. Tess, for her part, because she has been besmirched, tries to turn his head toward one of the other milkmaids, but he won't have it. Eventually, stuff happens and Angel and Tess marry: she relents after repeated refusals.

She tries to tell him why she is "unworthy", but doesn't get to why until the evening after their wedding. Once the wedding is over, it's confession time. Angel first, then Tess. Well, he's no Angel, having sewed a few wild oats in his time, so to speak. But for some reason, he takes amiss that Tess was "disadvantaged" by another egoist who was "sewing a few wild oats" himself.

The old story that rules for the goose don't apply to the gander. So, Angel decides they must not consummate the marriage. Rather, after a few days, they part. Angel goes off to try his hand at farming in Brazil. Tess soon loses what money Angel provided, mostly by trying to help out her imprudent family, and she is too proud to apply to Angel's parents for additional funds.

Thus, Tess is off looking for farm-labor jobs and ends up at the place where she was digging Swedes in wintertime. Naturally, bad things happen.


  1. by Thomas Hardy.
  2. Eat Well for Less.
  3. Thomas Hardy Quotes From 'Tess of the d'Urberville'.
  4. Thomas Hardy: Tess of the D'Urbevilles'.

Angel gets very sick in Brazil and loses touch with Tess. Alec shows up again and renews his attempts to "seduce" her. Tess' father dies and her mother and siblings are evicted from their house.


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  • And so forth. It's not a happy book. But, although it might not be a happy book, it is a very good one. Hardy is a gifted writer and does a wonderful job of "showing" the lives of his characters. One gets a great feel for the lives of the farm folk working the farms, of the changing of the seasons, of the various aspects of the countryside, and so forth. I've taken rather a shine to Hardy in the past year. And to think my interest in Hardy was all because I fell in love, via a picture in Time magazine, with an actress who was playing one of his heroines in a recent movie adaptation of one of Hardy's works.

    Please don't tell my spouse. Amelia Jun 10, Got to pg. The author is setting up a train wreck and I just don't want to watch it happen, despite the lovely lushness of the language.

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    Tess of the D'Urbervilles

    MaryHeleneMele May 6, This story is so tragically beautiful- about the strength and limits of love. One of my all-time favorites. So much happens to innocent Tess, yet she never loses her strength or resolve to carry on. I grandi romanzi inglesi: Nuove traduzioni by Jane Austen. Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Volume 1 by Thomas Hardy.

    Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Volume 2 by Thomas Hardy. Tess [ film] by Roman Polanski. Thomas Hardy: 'Tess of the D'Urbevilles'. Literature insights by Cedric Watts. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. However, she eventually decides that she prefers usefulness and independence. The fact that Tess overcomes her depression after her traumatic experience by analyzing her options reveals her tremendous emotional strength.

    After the death of her baby, the narrator notes that Tess developed from a girl into a woman.

    Having gone through horrible experiences, she has lost all her innocence yet gained depth and insight. When Tess begins working at Talbothays Dairy, she starts enjoying life in a way she never had before. Although she cannot change what has happened to her, she has the mental strength to put her traumas behind her for a time.

    As Tess travels, she finds pheasants who have been maimed by hunters and compares their plight to her own. After all, none of the pheasants had done anything to deserve their fate. Themes Motifs Symbols Key Facts.