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By human nature, people need a sense of belonging to be happy and fulfilled in life. It is more difficult for some to achieve this goal than others. Having friends and being loved is an important part of life for most people, yet if this is difficult for them to achieve, this goal could consume their life.
This is true in Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, where Tess, a descriptively pretty young girl goes to great lengths to find her place in the world. She moves from town to town searching for her place in society. She first settles in the city of Marlott where she leads a simple life. "Tess at this time of her life was a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience" (Hardy 11). Tess continues to travel to different towns in hopes she will improve her life by finding the person she wishes to spend the rest of her life with. Throughout all this disruption in her life, "she is an ambitious woman in search of a new sensation" (Hardy 15). She continues to travel because she wants more from life and has the ambition to attempt to find her place.
Tess had to cope with many threatening, dangerous, and sad situations during her search. The first occurs when she arrives in the growing town of Tantridge. There she worked as a dairymaid on the Flintcomb-Ash Farm. Even with her dislike for this job she continues to work at it for over two years until she knows for certain that this is not her place in the world. As she "progresses (she) wonder whether it would be wiser to return home. The resolve, however had been taken, and it seems Vacillating… to abandon it now, unless for graver reasons" (Hardy 67). As she continues to live in Tantridge, she gets into fights, drinks, and ends up being raped and impregnated. Alec is the man who attempts to convince Tess that she belongs with him, and that they were meant to be together. In her heart Tess realizes Alec is not the man she wishes to be with. Unfortunately she continues on in the one-sided relationship which leads to Alec raping Tess. She does not yet know how severe the consequences are for not being a pure woman. This idea of being a pure woman is so important in this period of time that Tess keeps it a secret even from Angel, who is her new love and the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
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Throughout the book, Tess's consistent desperation to find her place in the world causes her to do many unethical things and place herself in dangerous situations. Some of which are caused by the town she is forcing herself to stay living in, if only for the possibility of finding "her place in society". Tess then meets Angel, the man she ends up wanting to be with. In order to be with him, Tess denies her beliefs, which contradicts her consistent want in life to find her place. Tess does not see this as her "mind is enslaved to his" (Hardy 135). Tess also murders Alec in her desperation to prove her love to Angel. All of these events that are taking place are caused by Tess's ambition to achieve her lifelong goal of finding her place in life.
Even with her many mistakes, and terrible situations she encountered during life, Tess's determination kept her searching for her place in society. Having friends, feeling needed and loved, and belonging, are important aspects of life, which in turn create happiness, and as Tess has shown can be worth a lifetime of searching.