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Tess of the D'Urbervilles
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February 2014 - Tess > Phase the Seventh: Fulfillment

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Lindsey Buis | 77 comments Discussion for Chapters 53-59


Kaycie | 13 comments Wow.

This book actually redeemed itself a ton for me in the end, even though it was so horribly depressing. I tend to be super forgiving of people who realize their mistakes and try to make amends, and Angel's return in these parts was really touching. I thought he was a really terrible guy for how he treated Tess, but Tess also did herself no favors in that situation (didn't fight, didn't tell him right away, didn't go see his parents who could have helped her, didn't write to Angel sooner) to help him come around sooner. The fact that he did, came back, and wanted to fight for her showed real growth and maturity.

I was also weirdly proud of Tess for stabbing Alec. I was just thrilled that she finally stood up for herself and stopped just letting life knock her down further, even though it did come in a murderous rage. I wish that she could have done something less destructive to give more of a happy ending, but her rebellion showed that she also changed since the beginning of the novel.

I found it strange how the narration switched from Tess to other characters by the end. I saw so much of her mind during the rest of the book and wanted to see what she was thinking and feeling in the end, when I think I finally would have come around to her as a character. Its like once she "lost it" and saw Angel again then stabbed Alec, she was already "gone" and we no longer had access to her thoughts.

This book is very strange for me. I thought I had strong moral guidelines that I believed in, but found myself rooting for a murderer? And at no point have I really thought she was in the wrong for that, either. I love books that make you question things like right and wrong and re-evaluate judgments and perceptions!

And man, Hardy can write his butt off. Such a great novel.


Lindsey Buis | 77 comments I really enjoyed the novel too. I was shocked by the turn ( when Tess killed Alec). I actually wasn't rooting for Tess as much at this point however I see Angel's point of sticking up for her. (Plus I wanted Angel and Tess to be together) I love how Hardy blurs the lines for all of the main 3 characters. Hardy might have wanted us to root for Tess even after the murder. The subtitle is "A pure woman." How do you think Hardy views this act? This phase and the phase before she tells Angel her secret are my favorites.


message 4: by Carol (last edited Feb 11, 2014 02:21PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Carol Cummons (candyvalentine) Personally, I was extremely disappointed with this novel.

After recently reading romance genre juggernauts Gone with the Wind and Lady Chatterly's lover, this book miserably failed to produce or even project passion. Nearly half of the story consists of painstakingly boring descriptions of cow-milking, potato-seeding, and crop-threshing.

I get it Hardy, Tess is very earthy, and the sanctimonious sermons of the time should never have crossed this innocent Natural. The overlong passages of Miss D'Urberville toiling away are intended to evoke our sympathy for this fair creature that the world treats so cruelly. Really, her only special
qualities include a lovely form and unfailing work ethic, not exactly the stuff of miracles.

But the author does us one better by making the hero and villain even less likeable than the heroine. Angel the absent hypocrite versus Alec the manipulative admirer? The men are abhorrent, Tess's rejection of one and worship of the other seems largely unfounded. Indeed, most of her decision-making skills are ultimately immature if not ignorant. Frankly, three stars may be more than it deserves.


Lindsey Buis | 77 comments I agree with some of your points here for sure. I don't think either of the men are romantic archetypes and I enjoyed your descriptions of the male characters. Do you think that this novel should be considered a romance ? I see it as a tragedy more than a romance novel as in maybe Hardy was trying to make a statement about the nature of societal norms, religious views and questioning our views of good and evil. I view it as if Hardy is trying to show us the flaws in each character's convictions/ decisions and how those decisions bring about Tess's tragic ending. I also don't think that Angel or Alec is supposed to be clearly a hero or a villain. Alec is awful in how he treats Tess, but he also helps her and her family when no one else will. Angel is not a hero as he abandons Tess and leaves her to work. I do think Hardy views Tess higher than I myself would. I do have a hard time with her victimization of herself however I think she is struggling to do what is right until she snaps and does the opposite. I also think there is a lot more to the novel in regard to the religious and philosophical viewpoints. The novel points out hypocrisies conflicts in different viewpoints here as well.


Jennifer | 9 comments I loved Tess...until the end, that is. And I loved this book. I was captivated by all of the twists and turns, ups and downs, as well as Hardy's poetic descriptions of daily events. His perspective on rural life was captivating.

Throughout the book I was rooting for Tess: The jilted and abused girl who was determined to make it on her own, I was disappointed in Angel: the hypocrite who realizes his mistake only when it is too late, and Alec (the coniving, selfish, inconsistent admirer) made my skin crawl.

I enjoyed following all of Tess's plights. At each stage she was determined to overcome her present situation and make the best of it. That is, until the end. I don't know that she had to kill Alec, and I am still struggling with this part of the story. This action doesn't, to me, seem to fit her character. Therefore, I was slightly, ever so slightly, disappointed with the ending. I will have to read this novel again sometime in the future.


Lindsey Buis | 77 comments It was/ is hard for me to deal with this part as well. (Her killing Alec). I read somewhere (was it someone else's post?) that her killing Alec set her free. This seems to be one of her only times where she really asserts herself. Her others being killing the birds and writing the angry note to Angel. I do struggle with this though, because even though I see her reasons it isn't enough for me to justify murder. I don't know if that's because not everything Alec does is evil and he does struggle with his religion or what it is. Thinking back though what he does in the beginning is pretty serious. I actually couldn't believe Angel stuck by her. I like the twist too because it was unexpected and turned the ending up a notch for me.


John Hardy can write but I didn't love this book. My problem was that I disliked the three main characters. Tess drove me crazy. She seemed to just be a victim to circumstances. Until she stabbed Alec, she never seemed to stand up for herself. I couldn't believe it when she let Angel go and accepted that it was all her fault. She didn't put up a fight.
And Alec was at best a selfish jerk who used people for his own gain or at worst a rapist.
Then there's Angel. I can't believe I'm saying this but to me he was worse than Alec. What a self righteous ass. I can't believe he had the nerve to abandon Tess and then come back to get her.
This was a good read but it was too depressing for me. I prefer some joy in a book. Give me Austen or Dickens anyday.


Lindsey Buis | 77 comments John wrote: "Hardy can write but I didn't love this book. My problem was that I disliked the three main characters. Tess drove me crazy. She seemed to just be a victim to circumstances. Until she stabbed Alec, ..."

I got so mad at Angel in a few spots. I didn't just want him to say I forgive you. I wanted him to say, I'm a hypocrite. Although, I liked him again toward the end.


Mochaspresso  | 5 comments Given a choice between the two men, (some choice!!....) I think I prefer Alec. Angel loved Tess but he had her on a pedestal. He didn't truly love her at first. He loved the idyllic image that he had of her more. Once he discovered that she wasn't as perfect as he thought, he withheld his love from her. At least, Alec wasn't holding her to an impossible ideal and allowed her to be whoever she was.


Candace Carol wrote: "Personally, I was extremely disappointed with this novel.

After recently reading romance genre juggernauts Gone with the Wind and Lady Chatterly's lover, this book miserably failed to produce or e..."


I don't think I could have said it better myself. I really, really tried to enjoy and get through this novel. The long descriptions bored me so I started skipping long sections, then I'd have to go back and read once I realized I missed the character doing something. There were few times that I actually did admire Tess as a character; she found herself very able to stand up to Alec and had was resilience. Her hero-worship of Alec and martyrdom soon began to weary me.


message 12: by Pam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pam Although this book was sad, I did enjoy reading it. I thought Tess' parents obnoxious, using her the way they did to presumably raise their status in the world and to receive money, etc. Tess, as the oldest, and more responsible than either parent, did her best to please them. Ubfortunately, she was ill-treated by Alec. I wasn't too fond of Angel, either. I found him to be a fool when he cast off Tess when he found she was not perfect -- not that he was either. When Alec convinced Tess Angel was not coming back to her, she desparately turned to him when her mother and siblings needed a place to live after they lost their home. He obviously convinced her to come live with him then. When Angel returned to her, it broke her spirit, and in desparation she killed Alec. Looks like the only people who lucked out were Angel and Tess' sister, as they appeared to be together after Tess' death.


Lindsey Buis | 77 comments Mochaspresso wrote: "Given a choice between the two men, (some choice!!....) I think I prefer Alec. Angel loved Tess but he had her on a pedestal. He didn't truly love her at first. He loved the idyllic image that ..."

I felt this way too although I liked Angel again when he came around in the end.


Lindsey Buis | 77 comments Pam wrote: "Although this book was sad, I did enjoy reading it. I thought Tess' parents obnoxious, using her the way they did to presumably raise their status in the world and to receive money, etc. Tess, as..."

In response to Pam's comment:
I don't think anyone lucked out, because I think Angel will always love Tess and be haunted by his choice to leave and judge her.

In general, I honestly believe that the novel is about irrational choices that are made due to Social or religious views. I believe it is more of a criticism than a romance novel. Hardy was critical of a lot of Victorian ideals And this was his response.


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