“Happiness is but an occasional episode in general drama of pain” – Thomas Hardy.
Hardy is well known for his pessimistic novels, portraying how fate and Divinity rules us all. Tess of d’urbervilles, his classic novel is a livid example. Tess Durbeyfield is the oldest daughter to a poor family in 18th century Wessex, England. She is a sixteen year old beautifully modest girl, who looks slightly older than she is, is on the verge of entering womanhood. Until her father learns about their true lineage, they are the descents of royal D’urbervilles, now an extinct name.
Out of nowhere, another family Of D’uberville are introduced by Tess’s mother where she is sent to ‘claim kin’ ( though later in the novel we learn they arent even real D’ubervilles) . The antagonist from the very beginning keeps a lecherous eye on her, shaping way to the events that will change her life forever.
“He watched her pretty and unconscious munching through the skeins of smoke that pervaded the tent, and Tess Durbeyfeld did not divine, as she innocently looked down at the roses in her bosom, that there behind the blue narcotic haze was potentially the “tragic mischief” of her drama – one who stood to be the blood-red ray in the spectrum of her young life.”
Hardy succeeds in captivating the readers right from the start with the play of fate and how in an instant lives change. Throughout the novel a pace of these events is maintained , every time somehow effecting Tess directly and the ones around her indirectly. In the climax Scene where Tess is either raped or seduced by Alec the villain is kept hidden in shadows. Where readers are left wondering what actually happened between the two.
“Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to received; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man, many thousand years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our sense of order.”
Another highlight of the novel is how Hardy yet again gave way to how marriages are meant to be doomed. Hardy because of his own unhappy marriage depicted unhealthy relationships in his novels. In Jude the obscure, Mayor of Casterbridge, Far from madding crowd and Tess of d’ubervilles ,Hardy has shown all doomed unhappy lives of the couples ending in tragedy and tears. In the end when Tess is hanged to death readers are overwhelmed with the turn of events . Leaving many in tears.
““Justice” was done, and the President of the Immortals, in Aeschylean phrase, had ended his sport with Tess. And the d’Urberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknowing””
Though a sad or grim novel Hardy has delightfully managed to work it up to perfection.
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