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Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Characterization

Uploaded by Gotskillz on Jun 13, 2004

The protagonist of the novel, Tess Durbeyfield, is an exemplary heroine. Tess is an astute character living in a demoralizing Victorian society that degrades women tremendously. Through Tess’ emotions, thoughts, and actions, we are able to see the brutal standards that men hold for women. At the start of the novel, Tess is of the lower end of the social class, were women are admired for their chastity and devotion to the household. Tess’ family is poverty-stricken, and when their only gateway to survival dies in a heart wrenching collision, Tess must embark into the unknown where the harsh laws of the bourgeoisie exist. Upon her arrival at the d’Urberville quarters, she is met by the self-imposing Alec d’Urberville who demonstrates the cruel ideals of men in rich Victorian Society. Alec is aggressive towards Tess, and truly wants her to be with him. Although Tess opposes Alec, he takes advantage of her in the woods and loses her sacred chastity, which is so valued in Victorian society. Tess’ virginity was stolen from her, but her surrounding society seems to blame what occurred in the woods on her. Alec does not endure any punishment, and like his mother who is “blind” to his actions, so is society. Alec yearns to marry Tess to an awesome degree; however, Tess does not consent to a betrothal because she does not love him. By not consenting to such a marriage, Joan Durbeyfield, the mother of Tess takes the role of the general public by scolding Tess for not marrying Alec for his wealth and social position, as this would improve their class status as well. Through such occurrences, it can be seen that Tess is challenging the views of the masses. She does not think it right that the only way in which a person of the lower classes can rise up is by marrying a wealthy noble. Tess also protests to the hypocritical ways of men. This is shown with her marriage of Angle Clare. When she informs him that she is not pure, he runs away, even though he also engaged in sexual intercourse prior to marriage. The readers can clearly see the harshness and classlessness of Angle Clare by doing what he did. In essence, Tess represents Eve in her purified and defiled state. Using Tess, Hardy unveils his perspective that women are abused by society for the mistake that Eve...

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Uploaded by:   Gotskillz

Date:   06/13/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (409 words)

Views:   13116

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