Bitterness, Weariness and Impotence in Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles

Bitterness, Weariness and Impotence in Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles

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Bitterness, Weariness and Impotence in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles


In his novel Tess of the d'Ubervilles, as well as much of his poetry, Thomas Hardy expresses his dissatisfaction, weariness, and an overwhelming sense of injustice at the cruelty of our universal fate - disappointment and disillusionment. Hardy argues that the hopes and desires of Men are cruelly thwarted by a potent combination of "all-powerful Nature, fate, unforeseen accidents and disasters, and tragic flaws" (Mickelson 32). Although Tess, the heroine of the novel, is fully realized with physical, emotional, and mental attributes, grasping desperately to be her own master, she is nevertheless overpowered, becoming a victim of circumstance, nature, and social hypocrisy. Likewise, Hardy's dark realities bleed into and saturate his poems.

First, Hardy personifies Nature as a main character in the novel. Instead of allowing the influence of Nature to show only in weather and seasonal changes, allowing the reader to sense the plot, Hardy creates a Nature who is not the typical capricious but distant goddess. Instead, she is terrifyingly responsible for influencing and overpowering man. Hardy's Nature is not only essential for the subsistence of the entire farming countryside, but the waxing and waning cycles - in the weather, time of day, and season, - which seem to influence the actions of the characters. Every disastrous occurrence seems preordained by the mood of Nature. Before Prince, the Durbeyfield horse, is killed, Tess' brother wonders at "The strange shapes assumed by the various dark objects against the sky; of this tree that looked like a raging tiger springing from a lair; of that which resembled a giant's head" (p. 24...


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...rocess and the Case of Tess and Jude." New Perspectives on Thomas Hardy. Ed. Charles P. C. Pettit New York: St. Martin's, 1994. 16-40.

Chapman, Raymond. " 'Good Faith, You do Talk!': Some Features of Hardy's Dialogue." New Perspectives on Thomas Hardy. Ed. Charles P. C. Pettit. New York: St. Martin's, 1994. 117-36.

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. 

Jacobus, Mary. "Tess: the Making of a Pure Woman." Thomas Hardy's  Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea  House Publications, 1987. 45-60.

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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