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The Rape Scene in Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles and O'Brien's Z for Zachariah…

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Compare and contrast the rape scene in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the
D'Urbervilles with the attempted rape in Robert C O'Brien's Z for Zachariah…

Thomas Hardy, an English-man, wrote "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" in
1891 to show his concerns for the publics' loss of faith, partly due
to the publication of Darwin's "Origin of the Species", and the
conceivable decay of rural life due to the introduction of machinery;
industrialisation was making a lot of middle class people very rich
but putting the traditional farmers at a disadvantage. Robert C
O'Brien, an American, wrote his novel in 1975 to voice his anxieties
over the Cuban missile crisis of '62 and the Cold War adopting a "what
if" scenario.

Hardy has written his novel in the third person so that he is free to
put in his own opinions and to see into any character's thoughts and
feelings. His novel was originally published in instalments in
newspapers for an adult audience for whom broadstroke seemed more
appropriate. O'Brien chose to pen his publication in the first person,
possibly because his audience were younger and would prefer to be able
to identify with Ann (the heroin?) to whom they are of a closer age
than Loomis.

Hardy's rape scene is at the start of the book as his novel is showing
how this affects the rest of her life. This point in the book could be
seen as the point of no return for Tess as she is no longer a "pure
woman". O'Brien has put his attempted rape scene closer to the end of
the novel to show the culmination of all the previous events. This
point in the book could be seen, like Hardy's, as the point of no
return but this time for Ann and Loomis' relationship.

"Tess of the D'Urbervilles" is about a girl named Tess Durbeyfield who
is raped by a man named Alec, becomes pregnant then moves to work at a
dairy farm where she meets then later marries Angel Clare. Consumed
with guilt she tells him of her ordeal on their wedding night and is
promptly left on her own after he rejects her. She gives up hope of
him ever returning, poses as one half of a married couple with Alec in
Sand-bourne (Bournemouth) before he returns, finds her and asks if
she'll have him back. She refuses at first but does go to him after
murdering Alec in a tearful rage. Angel and Tess run into the
countryside, heading inland, before Tess is caught, tried and later
hung for murder. "Z for Zachariah" is about a young girl named Ann who
lives in a valley and thought she was the only one left alive in her
country after a nuclear bomb hit the surrounding areas leaving her
stranded. Then, one day, a stranger walked into her valley from the
outside and she cared for him until he tried to rape her. After the
rape, their friendship is destroyed and Ann flees the valley in the
protective suit in which Loomis arrived, in search of other survivors.

Both of the rape victims were females in their mid-teens who were
inexperienced with men. Both wanted to be teachers but their
circumstances would not allow for it. In both cases, education meant
alot to the girls as it can give you more power and a higher class.
The main male protagonists symbolise what the men of their time are
meant to be like and are respected for, on the outside anyway. Both
men are of superior class to the girls, not just because they are
older but because they are richer and of a higher class (Alec) or more
educated (Loomis). Tess's pride is what lets her be subjected to
Alec's campaign when she could easily leave, and is the reason she is
alone with him in The Chase. Tess, though, accepts the rape as fate
and does not fight Alec until the end when it is self-destructive
anyway while Ann fights back. Tess automatically accepts that Alec is
better than her whereas Ann does not. Because Tess believed in fate so
much she did not follow her instincts to leave Alec. Ann, however,
trusts her instincts because she does not believe in faith as she has
self-belief. This causes her to take the necessary precautions like
staying dressed even while sleeping, sleeping above the covers and
keeping her cave secret so that she has somewhere she can go in case
of an emergency. Tess didn't fight back as she felt obligated to Alec
for providing for her family and she was not aware of the possible
consequences of the rape. Loomis' attempt at rape was foiled because
Faro awoke Ann so Loomis no longer had the element of surprise but Ann
now did. Ann knows what's happening and escapes.

Alec's attempt was not planned. He was an opportunist who took
advantage of Tess's vulnerability. Loomis, however, had been planning
this and that is why he chose not to show his true physical fitness to
Ann. He was a highly qualified man and so must've had a reason to try
and commit the rape. Both the rape scenes are in the dark, which could
be seen as camouflage of both the men's real intentions and the fog in
Hardy's scene further confirms this. The dark could also be symbolic
of evil.

In "Z for Zachariah" the characters symbolise the warring countries
while in "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" Tess symbolises the old and Alec
the new. In both books, the beauty of the nature that surrounds the
protagonists totally contradicts the violence of the attacks.

Hardy had to be careful how he wrote his rape scene. His readers were
very politically correct so he could not be at all explicit but he has
included some slight connotations and he wrote the heading of this
phase for those who could still not understand what had happened to
Tess. Hardy's third person narrative allows for him to air his
personal sympathy for Tess and to raise questions. O'Brien's is also
not explicit as he has a younger audience. There is very little
description, as this would slow down the action. And the first person
diary allows for Ann's thoughts and feelings to be shown.

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