The Treatment of Men and Women in Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Tess now feels he can understand her problem. When she tells him he
refuses to accept it, he has placed Tess on a pedestal and is
mortified when she falls from it. She begs his forgiveness but he has
become very cold towards her and doesn't seem to hear her pleas. Hardy
really shows the double standards of the day by making both crimes so
similar. We can see how differently men and women were treated.
Today both genders are treated the same and Tess is seen as a victim,
Angel gave consent and so is now seen as the one in the wrong. Angel
is very cold and refers to Tess as a different person not the woman he
loved. 'You were one person, now you are another'. Angel is too
rational and socially aware of Tess' disgrace to forgive her. Tess is
so distraught he cannot forgive her she contemplates taking her life
but she can't because it will bring suspicion and shame on Angel.
Tess becomes very reserved and says she will do what ever Angel asks.
This does make a modern reader mad because she should not be begging
his forgiveness, she has done nothing wrong but she is made to feel
guilty and unwanted. Tess says she will go and stay with her parents
even though she hates the thought of going home. She will be shamed.
She gets a job digging up frozen potatoes. It is very physically
demanding and an awful job to have to take. Despite this even when
Alec offers her a life of luxury she refuses, her pride and love of
Angel stop her from accepting his attempt at clearing his conscience.
He asks her many times and she continually says no.
In my opinion Tess would have starved before going to Alec for help
but just like before the needs of her family push her into a situation
she doesn't want to be in. In a final attempt to rectify the situation
Tess writes to Angel, when she hears nothing she assumes he has
abandoned her and goes to Alec. We sympathise with Tess because she is
forced to be with a man she despises while the man she loves is