Tess of the D'Urbervilles
A novel by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), published in 1891. The work brought Hardy fame, fortune and critical acclaim; however, it caused controversy, for instance by describing the eponymous heroine as ‘A Pure Woman’. The author draws attention to society’s double standards. Seven phases mark the stages of Tess’s life. She is seduced by caddish Alec d’Urberville, and their baby does not survive. Later she marries Angel Clare, but revelations about her past appal him. His departure to Brazil leaves her vulnerable when Alec, now an itinerant preacher, pressurizes her. Penitent, Angel returns to find his wife. The dramatic, atmospheric climax at Stonehenge clearly implies that Tess is a sacrificial victim.
- Article by:
- Margaret R Higonnet
- Fin de siècle
Margaret R Higonnet considers how Thomas Hardy uses the character of Tess to complicate conventional ideas of modesty and desire.
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