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"Tess Of The D'urbervilles"' Tragedy Is Constructed By Thomas Hardy Through A Series Of Coincidences. Do You Agree? In Your Discussion, Consider The Context Of The Novel.

1214 words - 5 pages

The story of Tess certainly represents a rare instance of womanhood and female suffering in 19th century England. However, it is fair to state that the tragedy of the novel is not due solely to the use of coincidences throughout the text. More pertinent to any examination of the reasons for Tess's tragic end are the various influences dictated by the context of the novel. These include the power of money, the influence of patriarchy, in addition to the strong religious attributes of the 19th century English society. Further, the social consequences of the Industrial Revolution ought to be considered.The power of money during Hardy's time was a determining factor in Tess's economic and social plight. From the story's opening chapters, it was obvious that Tess's family lives in penury. With the introduction of Alec d'Urberville into the story, the family's economic plight was even more obvious; the Stoke-d'Urbervilles seemed not only much more wealthy, but also socially superior. However, it is ironic that the Durbeyfield family should be stranded in such financial hardship, and be at such social inferiority, for they, rather than the Stoke-d'Urbervilles, are the true-blooded representatives of the family. Alec's family had, quite literally, purchased the d'Urberville name, and, as such, increased their social respectability and influence on society. This is evidenced in many later chapters in the novel, where Alec dominates Tess's choices in life; these instances are best exemplified by Tess's succumbing to Alec during her work at Flintcombe-Ash, where her father's death and mother's ill health forced the family, which had only just hung on financially before this tragedy, to collapse into monetary ruin. Here, Alec d'Urberville offers Tess and her family the aid which is needed to relieve them of their troubles, in exchange for a marriage to their daughter. Though it is much to her liking to decline the offer, her situation, money-wise, dictates no more flexibility in her decision than to accept Alec's tribute. Of course, the great tragedy which embeds itself here is that, having accepted this money, Angel is due back soon; and with Angel back from Brazil, Tess's predicament forces her to escape from Alec. Hence, it can be reasoned that, from Tess's viewpoint, much of her fate with Alec was predetermined by the power of his money.Perhaps the single most significant factor of influence on Tess's fate is that of patriarchy. Although Tess is strong-willed and socially compliant with others around her, the many troubles in her life which lead to the eventual tragedy of the book are the work of others, especially men, to whom she loses the power to determine her own fate. Most fundamentally, Alec's seduction of her during the night was to leave a legacy of misery and chaos. It also caused the illegitimate birth, and premature death of her baby, Sorrow. Certainly, this act of immorality on Alec's part is one from which Tess never quite recovers. Yet...

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