Blaming External Pressure for the Tragic Decline of Tess in Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Blaming External Pressure for the Tragic Decline of Tess in Tess of the D'Urbervilles From the beginning of the novel 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' by Thomas Hardy, it is clear that the main character, Tess, is not going to have an easy life. She is deliberately targeted by cruel "Immortals" as their sadistic plaything. This is symbolized during the club dance, where Tess is "one of the white company" but is the only one to have a bright "red ribbon" in her hair. The mark of blood is on her from the start. Whilst Tess is going to market she accidentally kills the family's horse. Her own guilt for this accidental death is the first stage in a long series of incidents leading to Tess's tragic death at the end of the novel. Social and environmental pressures rank high on the list of causes of Tess's tragedy. In the late 19th century there were many changes taking place in rural England. The advances achieved as a result of the Industrial Revolution meant that even in the countryside farming was becoming mechanized and there were fewer manual labour jobs for the simple peasant people to do. This meant many people had to leave their town where they had spent most of their lives to go and find work. So, for example, the Durbeyfields' departing from Marlott after the death of "Sir John", was only part of a greater rural upheaval. Tess's search for work to make up for the loss of her family's horse led her to the sinister and blatantly predatory Alec d'Urberville who she initially thought was a relative. The sexual double standards typical of late Victorian society were also clear at this point. Females who sinned paid a much higher social price for their mistakes. But Tess did not want to sin - she was pres... ... middle of paper ... ... reach Stonehenge it is obvious that Tess's life of never ending pain and suffering will soon be over. Stonehenge is significant as it was a place for sacrifices in pagan times. The cruel "Immortals" have at last brought Tess to the place of sacrifice - they will soon end their sadistic "sport". I conclude that Hardy wrote this book to show that "individuals have no control over their lives, but are at the mercy of impersonal and inexorable forces", as stated in the resource notes to the Cambridge edition of the novel. From the beginning Tess's destiny was mapped out. She was born to suffer and eventually die. Tess was in the end a victim of the circumstances of late Victorian rural society, with all its cruel discrimination against erring females, but even more so of cruel supernatural forces who had marked her out as their victim from the beginning.

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