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Comment on Tess of the d’Urbervilles

姓名:汤义梅 班级:1003班 学号:2010012808

Comment on Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Tess of the d’Urbervilles is one of the great works by Thomas Hardy. He was a famous critical realistic writer at the turn of the 19th century in England .And he was considered as “Shakespeare of British novels”. This novel is the most influential one of all his works, which describes a tragic life about one beautiful and pure girl after disgrace.

This story happened in the late of “Britain's Victorian era”. At that time, Capitalist class controlled the society, and all laws served for them. Farmers were at the bottom of the society, they had no equal right as the capitalist class. In addition, men were the center of the society and women has no right at all at that time.

The story is about the tragic life of Tess d’Urbervilles, the daughter of a poor family. She is sent to work as a maid for d’Urbervilles, because she has to support her poor family. Tess is seduced by Alec, the son of the family which she serves for, and then gives birth to a child. However, the child dies in infancy, which makes her very depressed. After that, she

goes to work on a dairy farm, and then she is engaged to Angel Clare, the son of a clergyman. On their wedding night, they tell each other about their past hoping to be forgiven by each other. However, Clare leaves her after that because he can’t accept the truth. Then Tess becomes a labor again. She is insulted and ill-treated by her master. What’s worse, her father’s death and the bad condition of her family drive her to seek help from Alec who is a preacher now, and she can do nothing but to abbey him. Angel Clare comes back and wants to be reconciled to Tess, but the fact that Tess’ living with Alec hinders her from coming back to Clare. At last, Tess kills Alec in despair and she is soon arrested, tried and hanged. Tess was “the nature’s daughter”, and her mind which is

contaminated after the common custom has not been good and the rich sympathy, she never even a fly, worms are not cruel enough to injury and a little bird in a cage can make she cry. Tess this own character decided she has no ability to protect herself, and the efforts required to pay in excess of her endurance.

Besides that reason of her own character .Alec and Angel are also the important factor in this tragedy. Alec makes Tess depressed, but she manages recover herself. Then Angel’s rejection strikes her a lot. She is so unfortunate, but no one offers to help her. On the contrary, all forces from the society come to her, such as the employee and the villagers, which make her almost in despair. Therefore, Alec and Angel are just two

representatives of the social forces. They are both influenced by the cruel society. As Bill says, they are just “the slaves of the custom and stereotype”. The deeply cause of Tess’ tragedy is the cruel society.

Tess’ family is another important reason for her tragedy. On one hand, her family is very poor. Her father is a lazy vendor and her mother is a vulgar wash worker. She has young brothers and sisters who need care. “Every day seemed to throw upon her young shoulders more of family burdens” (Hardy p37), so she has no choice but to try her best to make money to support her family. On the other hand, her parents want to live a better life and show off the so-called “aristocrat” status, especially her mother. They are eager to send Tess to the d’Urbervilles family to work and marry the wealthy gentleman. D.H Lawrence says, “Though Alec d’Urbervilles was of no kin to her, yet, in the book, he was always a

quality of kinship. It was if only a kinsman, an aristocrat, could approach her”. To some extent, it is Tess’ parents who make the chance for Alec. In other words, Tess is a tool used to get money and reputation for her parents. Tess would not enter d’Urbervilles family if her family is better off; Tess would not be insulted by Alec if her family does not give her any pressure. What’s worse, her family never teaches her anything that a girl needs to know. Tess says, “Why didn’t you tell me there was danger in men-fold? Why didn’t you warn me? I never had the chance o’learning in that way (reading novels), and you did not help me” (Tomas Hardy

p89). This proves how her mother treats her. Therefore, “it is this

homeless despair of a family which has lost its rights and independence in the village community that gives Tess finally into the invader’s power” (Albert J LaValley p327)

Fateful circumstances and tragic coincidences abound in the book. Though Tess fights again and again, she loses everything at last. She loses her family, her beloved and even her own life. She is destined to be like that because no one can change the society in which she lives. In the tragedy, Hardy displays the social issues in that time.