Tess Durbeyfield is a victim of external and uncomprehended forces.
Passive and yielding, unsuspicious and fundamentally pure, she suffers a
weakness of will and reason, struggling against a fate that is too strong
for her. Tess is the easiest victim of circumstance, society and male
idealism, who fights the hardest fight yet is destroyed by her ravaging
self-destructive sense of guilt, life denial and the cruelty of two men.
It is primarily the death of the horse, Prince, the DurbeyfieldÕs
main source of livelihood, that commences the web of circumstance that
envelops Tess. Tess views herself as the cause of her families economic
downfall, however she also believes that she is parallel to a murderess.
The imagery at this point in the novel shows how distraught and guilt
ridden Tess is as she places her hand upon PrinceÕs wound in a futile
attempt to prevent the blood loss that cannot be prevented. This imagery
is equivalent to a photographic proof - a lead-up to the events that will
shape TessÕs life and the inevitable ÒevilÓ that also, like the crimson
blood that spouts from PrinceÕs wound, cannot be stopped. The symbolic
fact that Tess perceives herself to be comparable to a murderess is an
insight into the murder that she will eventually commit and is also a
reference to the level of guilt that now consumes her. ÒNobody blamed Tess
as she blamed herself... she regarded herself in the light of a
Her parents, aware of her beauty, view Tess as an opportunity for future
wealth and coupled with the unfortunate circumstance of Prince's death
urge Tess to...
... middle of paper ...
...ill and reason are undermined by her
sensuality. Tess herself sums up her own blighted life best; "Once a
victim, always a victim - that's the law!"
Casagrande, Peter J. Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Unorthodox Beauty. New York: Twayne, 1992.
Claridge, Laura. "Tess: A Less Than Pure Woman Ambivalently Presented." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 28 (1986): 324-38.
Hall, Donald. Afterward. Tess of the d'Urbervilles. By Thomas Hardy. New York: Signet, 1980. 417-27.
Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the d'Urbervilles. 1891. New York: Signet Classic, 1980.
McMurtry, Jo. Victorian Life and Victorian Fiction. Hamden: Shoe String, 1979.
Mickelson, Anne Z. Thomas Hardy's Women and Men: The Defeat of Nature. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1976.
Weissman, Judith. Half Savage and Hardy and Free. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 1987.
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