Compare and contrast the novels Dear Nobody and Tess of the
The two novels in question, "Dear Nobody" and "Tess of the
D'urbervilles" (hereafter referred to as "Tess"), raise surprisingly
similar issues for books written in such different times and among
such varying attitudes. However, the period difference does highlight
some major contrasts, most relevantly, the censorship that would have
taken place, had Hardy alluded to any details concerning sex or
seduction. In both books, the situations and moral messages reflect
the author's opinions and ideas on ethical subjects such as premarital
sex, pregnancy, single motherhood, and above all, the trials and
tribulations of love.
Obviously, the two heroines, Tess Durbeyfield and Helen Garton, were
born into very diverse circumstances: Helen came from modern day
family, with every opportunity to do whatever she wants to in life
available to her. Tess, by contrast, was brought up in a poor, country
family from the 1890's. This simple but vital contrast, is
highlighted, perhaps inadvertently, by Hardy's colloquial use of old,
country dialect in the characters' speech, such as, during Tess'
conversation with her brother Abraham,
"Bain't you glad that we've become gentlefolk, Tess?"
"Not particular glad", and in Mrs. Durbeyfield's proud announcement to
her husband, "I've got miself a projick".
For Tess, there was nowhere really for her to go. She couldn't have
had a career to speak of, only to become a farmer's wife, nor could
she have moved away from her village and family without a husband, as
that would have been seen as inappropriate. It would have been
presumed that Tess' life would have become very much like her
mother's: she would have married, become a mother, and lived as a
However, neither of the girls fulfilled the fate that was expected of
them for the same reason: they both partake in pre-marital sex leading
to the conception of a child. So, for Tess, as her future depended
mainly on finding a good and loving husband, Alec's actions towards
her effectively ruined Tess' life. The circumstances in which the sex
evolved, however, could not have been more different, and the authors
use different descriptive techniques accordingly.
Helen and her boyfriend, Chris, both consent willingly to intercourse.
They were very much in love, with a lot of trust in their
Doherty portrays that with her simple but beautiful description,
"Helen and I touched each other where we had never touched each other
before and made love." Her language does however contain a hint of
sadness, "a pale and watery moonlight cast the room into white
ghostliness," which indicates some of the problems and misery that lie
ahead as implications of sex.