Sheila's Reviews > Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
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Sep 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 100-must-read, classic, owned, boxalls-1001, reviewed, favorites
Read from September 03 to 08, 2012

Because I'm a woman, I'm sympathetic to the sufferings of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I'm also a little angry, but no one can accuse me of directing my ire at the novel's author, a man who wrote about a pure woman, Thomas Hardy.

For him, I have only admiration and respect for his imagination and realism.

In his critical novel, every evil imaginable has happened to the eponymous heroine, Tess, whose sins (and I say this with sarcasm) are that she was born poor, uneducated, and unprotected even by her own blood relations.

Meaning: Tess is hopeless as any disadvantaged woman born in the world of men.

And with unlucky combination of fate and a bit of history about her family's noble lineage, not to mention the curse of her natural beauty, Tess is condemned to be the archetypal victim.

She is imprinted in my memory when after her brief connection with her false kin, Hardy describes her source of strength and courage:

She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself.

As for Tess' husband, the farmer Angel Clare, he inspires because of his liberal views, but as a man of faith, he disappoints in his harsh judgment of his wife's past deeds.

As a man who vowed to love a woman in the eyes of God and men, Angel is just downright cruel. Perhaps more evil than the self-confessed carnal man, Alec d'Urberville.

Is this novel a cautionary tale for women? Maybe.

Only yesterday, I read a news of a Turkish woman who was allegedly raped by her brother-in-law. What reminded me of Hardy's Tess is that this real world rape victim killed her rapist and beheaded him too for the public to see.

Undoubtedly, since this book was published in 1891, little has changed.

Which is why this is considered an important piece of work that everyone must read.

The description of the beautiful landscapes and the impassioned letters by Tess are worth reading, not to mention the daring of Angel in the Three-Leahs-to-get-one-Rachel scene.
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08/24/2012 page 40
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message 1: by K.D. (last edited Sep 07, 2012 06:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Nice review!

So, did you think that Tess was raped by Alec?

Sheila Thanks K.D.: )

Was she raped? I can answer both ways, but here, I'll say Yes.

Repeatedly? Possibly, because she bore a child by him.

Did she like it? No, not in the way that Capote has made it a lifestyle for Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. She's not that sophisticated.

Why didn't she leave immediately?

For the same reason that she didn't run away from Alec when she deliberately let go of her hat during the wild horse ride----she thought her discomfort (for the kiss) was too trivial to forget the job offer. What would her parents think?

In short, she doesn't know that she was in any danger and the worldly Alec took advantage of that ignorance on one foggy, dark night in the woods, where escape is tricky in the hands of a man who means to dominate a sleeping woman.

Meaning: she would have been helpless in the situation.

And in some countries now, what Alec did would already be considered rape.

Sheila Thank you everyone for the likes : )

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