“Tess of the d’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy Sample Essay

The writer Thomas Hardy lived and wrote in a clip of hard societal alteration. when England was doing its slow and painful passage from an antique. agricultural state to a modern. industrial one. Businessmens and enterprisers. or “new money. ” joined the ranks of the societal elite. as some households of the ancient nobility. or “old money. ” faded into obscureness. Hardy’s fresh Tess of the d’Urbervilles clearly illustrates his positions on the rough societal alterations in his clip period. which were the exact antonym of many of his conservative and status-conscious readers. In the novel. Hardy mocks the power of high category society and industrialisation. every bit good as to the importance of line of descent and heritage in concurrence with societal position. The novel besides expresses Hardy’s sympathetic positions towards people of lower societal category and the effects societal alteration and industrialisation was bring downing on them.

Through the three chief characters of the narrative. Tess Durbeyfeild. Angel Clare. and Alec Stokes-d’Urberville. Hardy expresses the confusion sing societal categories in his clip period. Alec is the character who is an ideal representation of the new industrial-based society forming in England. while Tess embodies the pure. old and agricultural side of society undergoing alteration. and Angel symbolizes the futile and confounding battle for alteration between the two signifiers of society. The Angel-Tess-Alec trigon strongly conveys the confusion Victorians were undergoing in societal categories in order to suit the altering English societal system.

Angel Clare is possibly one of the most direct word pictures in Hardy’s novel that clearly shows the badness of societal confusion that was present during his clip period. Throughout the full novel. Angel’s ethical motives and beliefs. and the basic composing of his character. are a twine of social-related lip services and are grounds that a bulk of Victorian society was stuck mediate the old nineteenth century positions and the freshly ways of the emerging twentieth century. Angel Clare is apparently a character in the novel that rebels against traditions. make up one’s minding to travel against his clergyman father’s wants of him go toing Cambridge and following the same way of his brothers and alternatively being a lowly dairy husbandman and trying to populate an agricultural based life versus the one which is expected of him.

Angel was a adult male whose “aspect was likely as un-Sabbatarian a 1 as a dogmatic parson’s boy frequently presented ; his garb being his dairy apparels. long wading boots…” and “in fact. justly or wrongly ( to follow the safe phrase of evasive disputants ) . preferable discourses in rock to discourses in churches and chapels on all right summer days” ( Phase The Third. XXIII. pg 156 ) . Through this transition. and the rebellion to go what his male parent wants. Angel is apparently a character who is rebellious of social conventions in general. allow entirely the unnatural modernizing universe around him.

Angel is more in melody with natural things versus the things that society expects him to associate to. or at least more intrigued by the natural and agricultural universe versus the modern conventional 1. However. when Angel marries Tess. he thinks of her non as a existent adult female with defects and imperfectnesss. but as a pure and virginal lady that is perfect in every manner. This is what society deems the perfect married woman to get married. and Angel. inadvertently. is populating up to this. Though Angel seems to be a character in touch with the old universe. he is angry when Tellurium confesses she was raped by Alec.

“I do forgive you. but forgiveness is non all. ”

“And love me? ”

To this inquiry he did non reply.

“O Angel–my female parent says that it sometimes happens so! –she knows several instances where they were worse than I. and the hubby has non minded it much–has got over it at least. And yet the adult female had non loved him as I do you! ”

“Don’t. Tess ; don’t argue. Different societies. different manners. You about do me state you are an unapprehending provincial adult female. who have ne’er been initiated into the proportions of societal things. You don’t cognize what you say. ”

“I am merely a provincial by place. non by nature! ”

She spoke with an urge to choler. but it went as it came.

“So much the worse for you. I think that curate who unearthed your lineage would hold done better if he had held his lingua. I can non assist tie ining your diminution as a household with this other fact–of your privation of soundness. Decrepit households imply creaky volitions. decrepit behavior. Heaven. why did you give me a grip for contemning you more by informing me of your descent! Here was I believing you a newborn kid of nature ; there were you. the tardy seedling of an decadent nobility! ” ( Phase the Fifth. Chapter XXXV. pg 235-236 )

Angel. a character who usually Rebels against conventions. can non accept the fact that Tess is non the pure adult female he thought she was. and calls her “an unapprehending provincial woman” connoting that her “decrepit” household name is the ground she can’t understand why his forgiveness for Alec’s colza isn’t sufficiency. The lip service Hardy conveys through Angel is shown clearly in this transition ; though Angel himself doesn’t want to follow the criterions of society. he holds Tess to them. if non to higher criterions of pureness and flawlessness. His antipathy for her household name and his belief that it led to her bad luck shows that he is besides similar to modern society on the threshold of the twentieth century in England. which finds line of descent and old money distasteful and useless ( Grimsditch. 119 ) . Through Angel and his many hypocritical actions in the novel. Hardy conveys the battle and confusion in the passage from the antediluvian ways of Victorian society. to the modern ways of thought.

It is with Alec d’Urberville that Hardy portrays the freshly emerging modern society of England interrupting off from the typical Victorian ideals of line of descent impacting societal category. and demoing that economic power leads to the wealth and money that affects societal standing. Alec’s isn’t even a true d’Urberville ; his male parent basically purchased the high-class name to cover up his yesteryear. This shows the importance of money in society. and through this Hardy is demoing that money can purchase anything. most significantly societal standing. Alec is besides a character who doesn’t attention for anyone else’s good being. non even his ain mother’s. and he seduces Tess non because he loved her. but because of his ain demands and desires. He doesn’t offer an apology for the awful act until he “reforms” when he has a “calling from God” .

He is even ambidextrous and oblique in this facet of the novel. because he convinces Tess that Angel isn’t coming back from Brazil. and tricks her into get marrieding him shortly after he receives this “calling from God” . Alec could be viewed as a character whose utmost inhuman treatment to Tess throughout the fresh represents a jeer of the manner in which the new twentieth century England’s society was heading ; Hardy viewed it every bit merely as awful. if non worse. than the old criterions of Victorian society.

There are several other factors in the novel that show Alec being the representative character for modern ways get the better ofing the old traditions of the Victorian universe. but the chief 1 is his colza of Tellurium at The Chase. In Arnold Kettle’s An Introduction to the English Novel “he allegorizes Tess’s seduction into the sacrificing of the peasantry to a new ear overseen by a category. represented by Alec. whose money was made from fabricating. non from the land. ” ( Riquelme. pg 398 ) Kettle’s theory can be farther proved if the full d’Urberville estate is taken into consideration. When Tess foremost sees Alec’s house. she is enamored with its newness and notes that it is built on antediluvian land.

The ruby brick Lodge came foremost in sight. up to its eaves in dense evergreens. Tess thought this was the sign of the zodiac itself till. go throughing through the side wicket with some trepidation. and forth to a point at which the thrust took a bend. the house proper stood in full position. It was of recent hard-on – so about new – and of the same rich red coloring material that formed such a contrast with the evergreens of the Lodge. Far behind the corner of the house – which rose like a geranium bloom against the hushed colors around – stretched the soft cerulean landscape of The Chase – a genuinely venerable piece of land of forest land. one of the few staying forests in England of undoubted primaeval day of the month. wherein Druidical mistletoe was still found on elderly oaks. and where tremendous yew trees. non planted by the manus of adult male. grew as they had grown when they were pollarded for bows. All this silvan antiquity. nevertheless. though seeable from the Slopes. was outside the immediate boundaries of the estate. ( Phase the First. Chapter V. pg 60 )

The Chase is an country that has non been touched by Alec or his household ; a natural country with trees non planted by work forces. and is possibly one of the lone untasted woods left in England. It seems like more than mere circumstance that the colza did non happen at the d’Urberville place. the district in the novel that is associated with a strong sense of the importance of new money and the consequence it had on societal categories organizing in England on the threshold of the twentieth century due to new money. Alternatively. Alec overpowers Tess in the lone country that is associated with the old-agricultural based society. and the lone aboriginal piece of land that can be connected with other ancient things such as line of descents. This shows that the alterations of society were grim. and that even the most pure and agricultural topographic points were non to travel untasted by this new displacement in society and economic system.

The lone character that represents true societal pureness and the altering functions in agricultural civilization in the late nineteenth century is Tess Durbeyfeild. the novels heroine and victim. Possessing an instruction that her untaught parent’s deficiency. Tellurium does non quite fit into the folk civilization of her household and the people that surround her. but fiscal restraints maintain her from lifting to a higher station in life in which she is entitled. since there is nobility in Tess’s blood. She is in between the altering universe. both socially and culturally. therefore she is a symbol of ill-defined and unstable impressions of category in 19th century Britain. where old household lines retained their earlier glamor. but where cold economic worlds made sheer wealth more of import than interior aristocracy.

Tess’s interior aristocracy is defeated by the terminal of the fresh nevertheless. demoing clearly that the modern universe. a topographic point that is invariably and quickly altering. has no topographic point for person who is so unconventional and in a sense unwilling to alter. and hence must decease. One of the cardinal scenes in the novel that displays this intolerance of the agricultural and blue universe occupying the new is the decease of the Durbeyfeild family’s Equus caballus. Prince. Harmonizing to Herbert Grimsditch. in many of Hardy’s novels it is “the old universe character…is the chief bureau which keeps the provincials so unworldly. The Equus caballus. though still a extremely utile animate being. is non now. in most topographic points. indispensable. but to the common people of the Wessex Novels he is the life-blood of transport” ( Grimsditch. 87 ) Prince’s decease is brought on by Tess’s reverie of knights in her long lineage. and thoughts of a better universe.

It is clear that Prince’s decease by the metal and machinery of the mail cart shows there is no topographic point left for little agricultural civilization. and Tess herself bears a high-toned name like Prince. but is doomed to a humble life of physical labour. Tess’s dream of run intoing a prince while she kills her ain Prince. and with him her family’s merely means of fiscal support. is a tragic prefiguration of her ain narrative. “and the most passionate character must decease for being unconventional” ( Riquelme. pg 397 ) . The decease of the Equus caballus symbolizes the forfeit of real-world goods. such as a utile animate being or even her ain award. through inordinate fantasizing about a better universe ( Grimsditch 88 ) . Hardy makes it clear that non merely is the modern civilization killing the agricultural civilization. but besides that opposition to alter is about ineffectual.

Tellurium of the d’Urbervilles presents a complex image of both the importance of societal category in nineteenth-century England and the trouble of specifying category on the threshold of the twentieth century. Through the characters in the novel. Hardy demonstrates that the Victorian clip period had severed connexion with old traditions and had become wholly based on new money and power. Through Angel. Hardy represents the hypocritical members of society who resisted societal category criterions but who weren’t dedicated plenty to seek and alter society. and besides the confusion of how societal category was defined through the confusion we are shown in Angel’s character while he tries to specify his ain societal standing. Alec is the representation of the new. modern civilization destructing any leftovers of old civilization left. while Tess symbolizes the ineffectual battle of old agricultural ways and pure persons against the modern universe driven by ingestion and economic force.


1 ) Grimsditch. Herbert B. Character and Environment in The Novels of Thomas Hardy. Russell & A ; Russell. London ; 1962.

2 ) Hardy. Thomas. Tellurium of the d’Urbervilles. Bedford/St. Martin’s. New York ; 1998.

Critical Essaies in Text:

3 ) Riquelme. John Paul. A Critical History of Tess of the d’Urbervill