(Review) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Publisher: My copy is an old Washington Square Press.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
When the book begins Tess is 16. She is the oldest child in the family. Her siblings look to her as a mother figure. Their mother is foolish and unwise. She encourages Tess to live with a "relative," who has shown he is a scoundrel. Tess is reluctant but obedient. The results are life-altering.
In the opening pages, Tess is described as having, "large innocent eyes," and "a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience."
Her character reminds me of a young innocent lamb. She perceives danger, yet is unable to protect herself; and the people who are her parents and protectors are negligent. While the shepherds are not watching, the wolf overcomes his prey.
Tess is a sensitive girl, and this is shown in an opening story when she blames herself for an accident. Tess is sensitive to her peer's words, criticism, and response. She is sensitive to her parents, in how their foolishness is seen by neighbors. She is thrust into an impossible situation. She is a character who I found easy to form an attachment and investment. Tess desperately needed a friend and an advocate. I wanted to be her friend and advocate.
One of the saddest scenes in Tess of the D'Ubervilles is the story of Sorrow. I have read the book Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell. Ruth reminds me a little of Tess of the D'Ubervilles. Both stories are of young women who were thrust into impossible situations. The era in which they lived was harsh towards women in trouble. The men went on their merry way to another conquest. The women were left with the consequences.
I did not care for a comment Thomas Hardy wrote in regards to the "situation." It came across to me as trifle.
Let the truth be told-women do as a rule live through such humiliations, and regain their spirits, and again look about them with an interested eye. While there's life there's hope is a conviction not so entirely unknown to the "betrayed" as some amiable theorists would have us believe. Page 112.I have lived through a "humiliation," and I did not regain my spirits for a long time. It's a lengthy process and requires a life-time of work. It is not something that can just be gotten over, as if it's a case of the flu. However, building a new life after the incident is possible.
I was sorely disappointed in the character Angel Clare. Angel had the opportunity to be Tess's loving advocate. He did not love unconditionally. He did not reflect a Christian. However, he did reflect the era, its culture and society.
How do I compare Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D'Ubervilles?
Jude sought knowledge but needed wisdom. Whereas, Tess sought love but was given ashes.
Jude made unwise decisions. Whereas, Tess was pushed into an impossible situation by her mother.
Jude chose his relationships. Whereas, Tess at first had no choice, and later the choice pursued her but fell flat.
Jude's story reflected his choices. Tess's story was a domino affect after a tragic situation.
Both characters are tragic. Both characters are memorable.