Books and Movies Reviews

Tess of the d’Urbervilles:

A pure woman (pulled down to ruin by family and love)
The subtitle of Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ is “A
Pure Woman.”By choosing this title, the author suggests that the ideas
society has about purity are fundamentally misguided.Society says that
Tess is not pure because she is not a virgin.However, Hardy suggests that
Tess is the only pure and good human being in any of the societies in which
Atfirst, Tess only wishes to help her family’s fortune, doing her
father’s bidding against her better instincts, by going to work for Alex
d’Urbervilles.However, at the end of her tenure with him she is “a maid
no more” in Hardy’s words, after experiencing sexuality with this
supposedly distant relation.Hardy is quite cagey about whether what
transpires between Alex and Tess is a rape or not.Tess tells Alex that
the “sin” was more his than hers.But although this opacity may be
frustrating to a modern reader, her reaction suggests that it does not
matter in society’s eyes whether she was raped or yielded willingly.In
the view of society, all that matters is that Tess is no longer a virgin.
What is even more devastating, however, is the fact that not only
does it not matter in the eyes of gossiping women.It also matters,
whether Tess is a virgin or not in the eyes of Angel Clare, the man she
comes to trust and love later in the novel.What is so hypocritical about
the way that Tess is regarded as a sexual being, too, is that Angel himself
admits that he too, in his past, has sinned.However, although Tess
forgives him for his transgression, he cannot forgive her.He presses her
to confess what may have transpired in her past, “It cannot–O no, it
cannot!” She jumped up joyfully at the hope.No, it cannot be more
serious, certainly,’ she cried,because ’tis just the same! I will tell
you now.’ (Hardy 252, http://www.lite

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