Books and Movies Reviews

tess3

If written today, Tess of the d’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy may have been called Just Call Me Job or Tess: Victim of Fate. Throughout this often bleak novel, the reader is forced by Tess’s circumstance to sympathize with the heroine (for lack of a better term) as life deals her blow after horrifying blow. One of the reasons that the reader is able to do so may be the fatalistic approach Hardy has taken with the life of the main character. Hardy writes Tess as a victim of Fate. This allows the reader to not blame her for the things that happen around her. Much of the critical debate surrounding Tess centers around this very point: Is Tess a victim? Are the things that happen to Tess beyond her control or could she have fought her way out of her circumstances? Better yet, could Hardy have written her out of her troubles or did his fatalistic approach to the novel force him to ultimately sacrifice poor Tess? Further, Is Hardy’s approach to the novel and its main character truly fatalistic? In this essay, I will explore these questions and the doctrine of Fatalism as it applies to Tess. Fatalism is defined in Websters Dictionary as “the doctrine that all things take place by inevitable necessity” (175). Fatalism is the idea that all actions are controlled by Fate, a primitive force that exists independent of human wills and outside of the controls of power of a supreme being such as God because God ultimately has no power; he is a creation of man who granted Him His power. Since He doesn’t truly possess those powers, he is left without the ability to alter circumstances. In short, if one subscribes to this doctrine, you believe that Fate controls how things happen and God can do nothing to save you, even Tess. Overall, Tess seems to go through life experiencing one negative event after another. Fateful incidents, overheard conversations and undelivered letters work against her ability to control the path her life takes. Tess’s future seems…

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