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Tess Of The D’urbervilles By Thomas Hardy

1757 words - 7 pages

A Patriarchal society is the social construction of male authority over women in an attempt to direct their behaviour. In Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy presents a story of pain and suffering caused primarily by men who bring about th demise of Tess Durbeyfield, an 'innocent country girl'. Similarly, in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Süskind portrays Grenouille, a child of the market who is nurtured and dies in hate through social denunciation.

Jack or 'Sir John' Durbeyfield, Tess' biological father and 'the head of the family', could be accused of being the root of her problems. J. Berger’s Ways of Seeing claims that ‘A woman’s presence indicates what can or cannot be done to her', she is born into the keeping of John, 'and from childhood is taught to survey herself, with the result that her being is split into two, the surveyed and the surveyor’ [1]. He firmly lies the superfluous death of Prince at Tess’ door, foreshadowing that she is a 'murderess', despite his 'shiftless' drunken behaviour which prompting the event. His arrogance on discovering his 'royal' ancestry displays his unnecessary conceit; he prioritises this over his family loyalty: 'the rest ought to come to me', feeling no guilt at placing Tess on the path of vulnerability. On Sorrow's birth, his 'sense of antique nobility' peaked, and his impressionability to the blemish which Tess had upon that dignity labelled her a metaphorical stain. He also relies on her when she marries Angel and returns alone. Tess' mother states: 'He's been talking about the wedding...his family getting back to their rightful position, through you'. He originally counted on her to 'claim kin', but this time he depended on her to fulfil his wish of reverting back to a member of the aristocracy. In terms of a 'religious' father, Parson Tringham also implies that Christianity is an endemic and oppressive institution ruled by those with economic capital. He refuses to baptise Sorrow ‘for certain reasons,’ even though he admits that her baptism is just as good as what he could have done.

Hardy initially presents Angel Clare, the 'reverend's son' as the 'hero' come to rescue Tess at the May Day dance. Here his amiability towards Tess and her companions socially dissociates him from his disdainful brothers; 'I do entreat you…to keep…in touch with moral ideals.' When the reader meets him at Talbothays, the 'gentlemen born' pupil, with his 'young…shapely moustache' and 'reserved' demeanour has an air of attractiveness that invites trust. The name ‘Angel’ has connotations of divinity and benevolence; a saviour for the 'injured' Tess. Nonetheless, he rejects this heavenly persona revealing a covetous subjugator. His abandonment of Tess at the May Day dance foreshadows what is to become of her when he discovers her ‘impure’. This rejection of Tess on their wedding night contradicts his egalitarian perspective. As they both confess, it becomes harder for Angel to love Tess, and begins to see...

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