Chapter 1. The Victorian Era 3 Chapter 2. Tess, the tragedy of an unfair existence 14 Chapter 3. Rape or seduction? 27 Chapter 4. Anna Karenina and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, a tragic destiny 41
Chapter 5. Conclusions
The MA dissertation ‘Tess of D’Urbervilles, an unfair existence’ deals with the problematic of Victorian women, analyzed in Thomas Hardy’s novel, ‘Tess of D’Urbervilles. The project is an attempt to find some answers about the women’s roles in a patriarchal society ruled and dominated by men. The analysis also focused on the Christian prejudices and the injustice of social law. The theoretical part is structured into three chapters. The first one is an introduction into the Victorian Epoch and analyses this period of great changes that brought England to its highest point of development and also the dramatic inequities between men and women. The next chapter concentrates on Tess’s life and tries to determine why Hardy’s heroine”’ The third chapter tries to investigate if Tess of D’Urbervilles was raped or seduced, if she is an angel or, by contrary, a fallen woman. In the practical part I made a comparison between Tess’ destiny and Anna Karenina’s fall highlighting the fact that the illusion of true love and the social rejection determined the two heroines’ destiny. The last chapter reports the conclusions that resulted from the analysis made on Hardy’s novel, ‘Tess of D’Urbervilles’.
The Victorian era
What was the Victorian Era?
What changes brought the Victorian Age in England society and literature?
How was Thomas Hardy influenced by the Victorian Era?
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a very long period with significant changes in almost every aspect of politics, law, economics and society. The Victorian age it was first and foremost a period of evolution. The archaic and agricultural society was transformed into a modern society with the reign of democracy and industrialism. In 1837, when Queen Victoria acceded to the throne, the majority of England’s people had houses in the countryside; few of them could read and write, children of five year old worked long days underground in mines or ran deadly machinery in factories. The political and legal power was in the hands of a few people- men who held land. ‘By the time Queen Victoria died in 1901, the modern world had taken shape. Most of England’s people were town or city dwellers. London, the capital of an empire that covered one-fourth of the globe, had subway trains and electric streetlights; telegraph messages speed around the world in minutes; luxurious steamships plied a busy transatlantic trade. Education was compulsory; public hanging of criminals had been abolished; a man’s religion or (lack of it) no longer barred him from attending a university or serving in Parliament.’ The Victorian England was dominated by the effects of the Industrial Revolution: the population grew quickly, more and more cities appeared, a broad system of railway was built. England became the glory of the nineteenth century. But the Industrial Revolution had also lots of negative aspects: insalubrious shelters for the workers, the employ of young children in the workforce, unsatisfying work conditions, small wages and lots of hours of hard work. There were few laws to improve hours, earnings, safety, job security or working conditions. People worked six day a week. ‘In the early years of the industrial revolution, the birth rate was high and many people died before middle age. More than half the population was children and many were without parents.’ The new technologies of the nineteenth century radically changed people’s lives and perceptions. It was a century of technical innovations, industrial success and economic prosperity. All this opportunities changed the way people thought about the world. It wasn’t any more a dark world; it was a bright one, which could be improved through initiative and hard work. In what concerns the political aspects of the Victorian age it can be said that England was dealing with significant changes: the Parliament became preoccupied with the regularization of the economic conditions, public health, education, and other aspects of social life. ‘By the end of the century, there were public hospitals for the chronically ill; asylums for the mentally handicapped; schools for blind, deaf, and disabled children; homes for the elderly; and other appropriate public institutions for people incapable of self-support.’ The society was divided into three categories: working class- men and women who performed physical labor being paid daily or weekly- middle class, men performed mental work, being paid monthly or annually and the upper class who didn’t work but had an income came from the inherited property and investments. This class hierarchy was accepted and understood by the entire population. Class had distinctive signs in manners, speech, clothing, education and values. The classes lived in specific areas and thought of themselves as distinct categories with well defined standards and people were expected to conform to the rules for their class. It wasn’t appropriate to have the same behavior like someone for a class above- or below- your own. What is important to mention is the fact that the middle class grew in size and importance during the Victorian period. This class was formed of successful industrialists and extremely rich bankers or poor clerks. ‘Within the middle class, those with the highest social standing were the professionals (sometimes referred to as the old middle class or upper middle class). They included Church of England clergymen, military and naval officers, men in the higher-status branches of law and medicine, those at the upper levels of governmental service, university professors, and the headmasters of prestigious schools.” Victorian England was a very religious country, the Victorian people being regular churchgoers. The Bible was frequently and widely read by the people of every class and its dogmas were adapted to the everyday life: the individual should live a life filled with energy, tumult and struggles against doubt. Yet, towards the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, the Bible wasn’t accepted any more as literally true and free from errors. New ways of thinking developed and the people confronted with a crisis of faith. In the Victorian age, women were seen through men’s eyes. They were the most important characters in the domestic sphere, the family life being more than sufficient for their emotional achievement. The home was seen as a paradise, a refuge from the chaotic world of business and politics, a place similar with the haven, in which men found love from their wives and children. The Victorian women were seen as being pure and perfect. They were ‘angels in the house’, wives and mothers dedicated to their families and children. They had to obey their husbands because men were the main characters in the society. The marriage was a light form of slavery: after the wedding everything a woman inherited and had unquestionably belonged to the husband. ‘Every man had the right to force his wife into sex and childbirth. He could take her children without reason and send them to be raised elsewhere. He could spend his wife’s inheritance on a mistress or on prostitutes.[..] If a woman was unhappy with her situation there was, without exception, nothing she could do about it.’ Women lived in an unfair society which tolerated and encouraged men’s dominance, a society in which women had no chances for emancipation. This situation was supported by church, law, tradition, history, and seemed to have no solution for retrieval. Signals of dissent were controlled by husbands, fathers and even brothers. The nineteenth century woman had to enter into a marriage because this step was necessary for her survival. She was somehow forced to depend on man, to beg for existence and for love. ‘Barred by law and custom from entering trades and professions by which they could support themselves, and restricted in the possession of property, woman had only one means of livelihood, that of marriage.’ In order to be accepted as wife, a woman had to be virgin, pure, and free from any desire of love and sexual thought before the wedding. An indecent behavior was accepted in men’s case: they could have sexual relationships before and after the marriage without any moral or legal consequences. Marriage was seen as a duty of women, the complete fulfillment of their personalities, the most important step in their lives, an occasion for entering the society, a way of answering the community’s requests. Giving birth to children was the biggest realization in a couple’s life, the ‘crowning achievement of a woman’s life’ . Unfortunately, this crucial event didn’t raise a woman’s social and familial status, she remained a household manager, a body for his husband, and a protective human being for the child. Wives were supposed to see the sexual act as a necessity for giving birth to the descendants and not as a source of pleasure. Sex for another reason than for procreation was seen as dirty and outrageous and changed the husband’s image over his wife: she was seen like a perverted person without any religious values ‘a mother who lacked religious faith could not instill sexual propriety in her daughter, and thus was unfit to be a mother at all.’ Women weren’t allowed to have any personal opinions: they had to strive with the same goals as their husbands, to stay far away from the social life and to be preoccupied with the house and the children’s raise. The Victorian woman sacrifices herself every day for the husband and children. ‘The pure woman’s life was supposed to be entirely centered on the home. She preserved the higher moral values, guarded her husband’s conscience, guided her children’s training, and helped regenerate society through her daily display of Christianity in action.’ The Victorian woman had no power over her life or her children’s: when she was accused of adultery, she was viewed as ‘fallen’ or ‘ruined’ and her husband could kidnap and incarcerate her having the backing of the law. The children remained in the man’s custody. ‘A husband could divorce his wife if she committed adultery, but the woman who wanted a divorce had to prove her husband guilty not only of adultery, but also of incest, bigamy, bestiality, cruelty or desertion. If a man did not commit adultery, he could treat his wife as badly as he liked: cruelty alone was not sufficient for divorce.’ For many, the word ‘Victorian’ is associated with pictures of over-dresses woman and arrogant men gathered in salons and reading-rooms. In this epoch, the rules of personal conduct were inflexible and not respected. Victorians won a bed reputation o saying one thing and doing another. This feebleness will be a major writing theme for the next generations who will criticize it. In the Victorian era the society was transforming fast and lots of people could not understand the society’s mechanism. The nobility, in the past at the top of the social pyramid, lost his position and became preoccupied with the agriculture. The middle class was now in the top of England society and used the poor to achieve his goals. Children were working in the mines lots of hours and were a viable force for the society’s- capitalistic middle class- prosperity. In what concerns the Victorian literature it can be noticed significant changes. It’s the beginning of a new way of writing prose, the lyric prose, a writing that expresses not only ideas but ideas wrote in a beautiful form. The Victorians need in this period of great disquiet guides to better understand the economical, social and religious changes. Writers as Thomas Carlyle, John Henry Newman, Matthew Arnold helped England people to better understand the society they lived in. ‘Up the still, glistening beaches,
Up the creeks we will hie,
Over banks of bright seaweed
The ebb-tide leaves dry.
We will gaze, from the sand-hills,
At the white, sleeping town;
At the church on the hill-side’
And then come back down.
Singing: “There dwells a loved one,
But cruel is she!
She left lonely for ever
The kings of the sea. ‘ Thomas Carlyle was the dominant figure of the Victorian Age. He succeeded to influence every category of Victorian life. He could not accept any spiritual weakness or social destruction. Carlyle hated the social inequalities, conventions and mendacity. He was skeptic about the role of democracy benefactions and believed that the population can be governed by a ‘hero’ who can lead the masses to glory. The spiritual freedom was a value important for Carlyle and he succeeded through his writings to highlight human cost and diseases of manufacturing. Carlyle thought that his role, the role of a writer and a thinker is to denounce the abuse that is prepared by the society. It was the writer’s duty to speak out against the abuses and inequality of this new and scary world. He saw industrialization and the Industrial Revolution as responsible for extermination and also the root for the lost of human characteristics. Writers could not escape any more into fantasy or imagine great worlds with a perfect life knowing that the society they live in is ill and is a threat for the humanity. Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s poem ‘The Cry of the Children’ is a criticism against the jobs in mines offered to the young children. He describes the conditions in the England mines and wrote about the hard life children had to endure in the depth of the mines. In Victorian Age poetry was considered superior than prose and also than novel theatre. The predominant figure of this period was Alfred, Lord Tennyson. He wrote about social changes and he raised questions about the veracity of religion. His poetry is romantic in subject but has lots of personal reflections. Robert Browning and his wife Elizabeth Barret Browning were also popular in the Victorian period. Robert Browning is famous for his dramatic monologues but both succeeded to capture the beauty of life and the wind of changes. Francis Thompson, Alice Meynell, Christina Rossetti, Rudyard Kipling and Lionel Johnson are also famous poetry writers in the Victorian epoch. In the middle of 19th Century, the Pre-Raphaelites guided by the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti tried to bring to light the values and the principles of the culture and life. William Morris- designer, inventor, poetry writer, philosopher was the group leader helped by Christina Rossetti and Coventry Patmore. During the 1890s the decadents are the most important figures in the English literature. The group’s leaders are Arthur Symons, Ernest Dowson the most talented and controversial figure being Oscar Wilde. The decadents rejected what they considered banal progress. They argued that art should be judged on the basis of form rather than values and this idea is perfectly sustained by the motto ‘art for art’s sake’. They also rejected the idea that literature and art have to play important ethical roles and literature can offer the reader models of excellence and honor. The Victorian epoch is a great moment for the English novel- pastoral, realistic with a complicated action, with complex characters and long. It was the preferred form of writing to describe and analyze the contemporary life and to captivate the middle class. Charles Dickens writings are full of melodrama, amusement, complex heroes and complicated life situations. Dickens is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and one of the creators of the most well-known fictional characters. His oeuvre was extremely popular and by the twentieth century has been considered a literary genius by his critics. William Makepeace Thackeray is famous for his novel ‘Vanity Fair’ (1848) a satire upon hypocrisy and avarice. The novels of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) described ethical conflicts and social concerns. Jane Eyre (1847) and Villette (1853), Charlotte Bront’??s novels respect the conventions but dare in their own way. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson writes under the pseudonym Lewis Caroll and is the author of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland (1865) a complex and sophisticated children’s book. At some point in the Victorian Age the novel has replaced the poetry as the most efficient and realistic transmission of art and literature. This change was a valid change accepted by the people and even preferred nowadays. Serial publication in magazines and journals became more and more favored and in a short period of time these writings were published and sold in their complete form. Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in a Dorset’s village of Higher Bockhampton. Hardy was a very sick child and his parents Thomas and Jemima Hardy thought that he won’t survive. He was kept mostly at home being a sick young. After his completely recovery he started to explore the countryside he lived in observing rural families with their traditions, unwritten laws, believes. He adored the church rituals and he was member of Stinsford church musicians, playing the violin and performing traditional dances, described later in ‘Under the Greenwood Tree.’ In the ‘Life’, Hardy describes faithfully the complex routine that shaped his knowledge at this period: ‘To these externals may be added the peculiarities of his inner life, which might almost have been called academic ‘ a triple existence unusual for a young man ‘ what he used to call, in looking back, a life twisted of three strands ‘ the professional life, the scholar’s life, and the rustic life, combined in the twenty-four hours of one day, as it was with him through these years. He would be reading the Iliad, the Aeneid, or the Greek Testament from six to eight in the morning, would work at Gothic architecture all day, and then in the evening rush off with his fiddle under his arm ‘ sometimes in the company of his father as first violin and uncle as ‘celloist ‘ to play country-dances, reels, and hornpipes at an agriculturalist’s wedding, christening, or Christmas party in a remote dwelling among the fallow fields, not returning sometimes until nearly dawn.’ At the age of eight Thomas Hardy joined the Anglican school recently opened in his village and later was sent to the school of Dorchester. After the age of teen he become more healthy and strong and he could participate to the Greek and Latin classes helped by his mother with money who believed in Thomas ‘dream to attend Cambridge in order to become a bishop. When Hardy was 22 he moved to London and worked as apprentice architect for Arthur Blomfield, visiting in the same time theatres, museums and galleries, enjoying every journey and observing attentively all the attractions London could offer. ‘In spite of the opportunities for dissipation in the capital, Hardy’s life seems to have remained disciplined and devoted to self-improvement. He visited the International Exhibition at South Kensington (later the Victoria and Albert Museum) for its architectural artefacts and paintings, studied the great masters at the National Gallery during his lunch period, and enrolled for French classes at King’s College. Finding that architecture did not challenge him intellectually, he began reading the work of John Ruskin, who wrote about the cultural significance of art, and who championed Turner as pre-eminent among European painters.’ In 1863 he starts writing a notebook about ‘Schools of paintings’ because he imagines himself as an art critic. He thought also at a journalistic career as a way of earning money in order to allow him to attend the University and enter the church. ‘However, this aim receded as under Moule’s mentorship Hardy was introduced to the writings of a wide range of contemporary thinkers, including the work of John Henry Newman, the leader of the Oxford Movement, who left the Anglican Church for Roman Catholicism, and whose Apologia pro Vita Sua was published in 1864, on which Hardy made quite extensive notes. But Hardy also read John Stuart Mill [85, 121], a seminal philosopher and economist, who formed the Utilitarian Society, wrote On Liberty (1859), a comprehensive defense of individual freedom, and Utilitarianism (1861) and who, in contrast to Newman, regarded the ideal of Christianity as negative and passive.’ Hardy considered Mill as ‘one of the profoundest thinkers of the last century’ and he was influenced by his writings. By 1865 Hardy had begun to see himself as a future writer. He published the humorous prose ‘How I Built Myself a House’, anonymously in Chambers’ Journal and he won his first earnings from writing but Hardy returned to poetry and studied intensively multiple poetry volumes. ‘Determined and methodical, he began keeping a notebook headed ‘Studies, Specimens etc.’, in which he listed quotations, attempted to develop a vocabulary of his own, and recorded observations of people and scenes for possible poems.’ Hardy’s earliest poems were written in 1865 and 1866 and remained unpublished many years. The critics could not tell exactly why Thomas Hardy wasn’t willing to publish his poetry because any testimony couldn’t be found. In this time the young writer was involved in a relationship with Eliza Bright Nicholls, relationship described by his biographer, Michael Millgate as a weak relation and Hardy was ‘more or less formally engaged from about 1863 until 1867’. ‘ His relationship with Eliza gave rise to the ‘She, to Him’ series of poems, and in the Wessex Poems volume in which they appear, on the opposite page is printed Hardy’s drawing of two figures climbing the path that runs up to Clavel Tower overlooking Kimmeridge Bay. The end of the relationship is recorded in the poem, ‘Neutral Tones’.’
Bibliography Chapter One
1. Harvey, G., ‘The complete critical guide to Thomas Hardy’, Taylor & Francis e- Library, 2003.
2. Holmes, S., & Nelson, C., ‘Maternal Instincts: Visions of motherhood and sexuality in Britain, 1875-1925’, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 1997.
3. Jennings, A., ‘Stranger than Fiction. Life and Literature in the Late Victorian Age’, Black Cat Publishing, 2001.
4. Kent, Susan.’Sex and Suffrage in Britain 1860-1914′. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
5. Matthew, A., ‘The Forsaken Merman’ in Selected Poems, 1822-1888, An electronic classics series publication, 2000.
6. Millgate, M., Thomas, Hardy, His Career as a novelist, London: Macmillan, 1994.
7. Mitchell, S.,’Daily Life in Victorian England’, Greenwood Publishing, Westport, Connecticut, London, 2009.
8. Wojtczak, H., ‘Women of Victorian Sussex’, Hastings Press, 2003.
Tess, the tragedy of an unfair existence
Is Tess a victim or a blemished woman?
Is Tess’s tragedy inevitable’?Tess of the D’Urbervilles is the product of Hardy’s fascination with women of beauty, energy and intelligence who find themselves trapped between these gifts, the aspirations such gifts justify, and their society’s assumption that respectable women must be either submissive or obtrusively and harmlessly aspiring. With few exceptions, Hardy’s most interesting characters are his unconventional women including Tess who, so unconventional both before and after, is, predictably both the conventional ruined maid of fiction and a ruined maid like no other that has existed in British fiction.’ Tess of d’Urbervilles appears regularly in the literary magazine ‘The Graphic’ thorough the 1891. This was an original method of Hardy. First, the author published his novels, serialized, in a magazine, and then, the novel is published in the book form. The book’s subtitle, ‘A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented ‘is the first evidence that Hardy’s novel will shock his readers. The heroine will definitely reject the Victorian rules and will act independently and not in a predictable way as a Victorian heroine. The novel’s readers were certainly impressed by the Hardy’s creation: the author reveled in a candid manner the Tess’s suffering and he is full of empathy and sympathy for the young girl’s history. It was not easy for Thomas Hardy to find a publisher. The novel’s plot and also the heroine were full of sexiness. Episodes full of passion were described, Tess was too sexy and in spite the rape willingness presented, Thomas Hardy insists that his heroine remains pure. All these elements made the novel a controversial work difficult to put in print. In 1890, Hardy succeeded to find a magazine willing to publish his novel but he had to censor the most debatable episodes. ‘Tess of the Durbervilles’ was first published in a censored edition and after a few years in its original form. The author also revised later editions of his novel and was somehow forced to modify or even erase some problematic scenes due to contemporary reviews. Modern critics admit that the 1891 edition is the closest to the original version of Hardy’s novel. Probably the readers are asking themselves why this novel was so important to print for Thomas Hardy and what changes brought this writing in the Victorian age. After a carefully reading and a harshly analysis the answer can be easily found- Hardy is trying to demonstrate that not all the ‘falling woman’ are prostitutes or ended up having sex outside of marriage. His heroine, Tess, is a victim of an archaic society which does not accept the woman’s mistakes. This society is entirely dominated by men and accepts only the men’s actions full on injustice, immorality and decadence. Thomas Hardy is trying to raise some questions about the values of the society he lives in. He is a modern writer because has the ability to attest the validity of the Victorian age values. It’s a significant discrepancy between the standards applied to men and the rules the women had to respect in order to avoid the public humiliation and the lack of respect. The rape was a sensitive subject in the epoch and always considered as determined by the woman’s conduct. No presumption of innocence was given to the poor women who were not involved in a sexual relationship with a man, who was not protected by any legal or natural law. Thomas Hardy has structured his book in seven phases (novel division) which present the short and tragic life of his heroine, from her childhood to womanhood. ”Phase’ is an interesting demarcation in itself. Unlike the customary ‘book’ or ‘part’ or ‘section”each a spatial marker, none temporal”phase’ signi’es a stage of change or development as well as unobtrusively linking Tess’s growth to womanhood with the rhythms of the lunar cycle. ‘Seven’ is, in turn, redolent of universal meanings: it is given as the Age of Reason, the Seven Ages of Man (Shakespeare), and the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. And, of course, the seventh day is the Christian Sabbath’the sacred day of fulfillment in the Genesis story of Creation; the day of rest from labor and of thanksgiving.’ The seven phases are also divided cyclically and thematically. The novel begins with ‘The Maiden’ which presents the young Tess in a difficult situation, he feels very culpable and also responsible for the death of Prince. In ‘The Chase’, when she is sexually abused she realizes that she her virginity is lost and she is damned to live a sadly life, with no respect or understanding from the community she lives in. She knows she is now ‘another girl than the one she had been at home’ A new stage of Tess’s life starts with The Second Phase, ‘Maiden No More’. Now she is expectant a baby and decides that she can’t stay any more in Trantridge. Tess has tried to help his parents to resolve the financial problems they had at home and struggled to make Alec understand that she is not in love with him but she has lost his innocence trying to defend it. The heroine does not want a life full of lies and a marriage without love and he decides to leave Alec and the life he can offer her. ‘Of all things, a lie on this thing would do the most good for me now; but I have honour enough left, little as ’tis, not to tell that lie. If I did love you I may have the best o’causes for letting you know it. But I don’t.’ Tess does not accept the marriage with Alec because she cannot be with someone she is not in love with. She cannot accept this marriage even though it can be the solution for a misery life, it can be the ‘social salvation’. Analyzing the decision Tess makes it can be concluded that Hardy wants to sacrifice Tess and to offer to his British readers an example of morality, integrity and honor. Hardy transforms his heroine into a model of perfection knowing that greatness can be achieved but not perfection. ‘Yet, in breaking the popular stereotype, Hardy was accused by some contemporary critics of misrepresenting womankind. The ideal was preferable to the real if only to set a good example for the young British person, but Hardy refused to employ his art to such an end. ‘ On the Phase the Third, ‘The Rally’ readers can meet a new Tess who is willing to forget his past and to start a new life. In this phase Tess is enthusiastic and even though her past is still alive in her soul and her mind she can start over full of confidence and hope for the future. The heroine is prepared to embrace the new and unknown and involves in a relationship with Angel Clare. Is for the first time when Tess feels the true love, loves and is loved. Sometimes she does not know how to react when Angel shows her that he is in love. When Angel tried for the first time to take Tess in his arms to kiss her, the girl is very scared and does not know how to react. She starts crying. ‘Why do you cry, my darling’? he said. ‘O’I don’t know!’ she murmured regretfully. Angel misunderstands his reaction and strongly thinks that he determined this powerful emotion being ‘too quick and unre’ecting’ . Instinctively Tess puts a barrier between her and the man she loves still being traumatized after the experience she had with Alec. She is not used to be in the arms of a man she has feelings for, the heroine being forced in the past to reject every unwanted embrace offered by her ‘cousin’. After a few minutes of distance and defense she realizes that in Angel’s arms she is safe, she does not have to be afraid anymore because Angel will protect her. Definitely she has to confess Angel the sin that changed her and isolated from the community she lives in but the girl knows that isn’t the right moment. Tess does not know how Angel will react, she knows that is a sensitive subject and she can obtain forgiveness only if Angel has true and strong feeling for her. ‘The Consequence’ is the title for the Phase the Fourth. Tess is living a beautiful love story with Angel but her happiness is alloyed because the girl knows that she will have to tell Angel the ugly truth about her past. ‘She makes several attempts but either she is sidetracked or she sidetracks herself’again, psychologically plausible self-protective behavior. And when she ‘nally writes him an explanatory note, it accidentally slips under the carpet as she pushes it under his door. The cycle of intention undermined by accident seems unbreakable. Tess’s resolve is challenged; she feels quite overwhelmed.’ The things are easy neither for Angel nor for Tess. Angel has to face his parents’ attitude, disapproval and to convince them that Tess is the best choice for him and not the young lady who he is supposed to marry with. Even though Angel does not admit directly that he has his own prejudices in what concern the Tess’s situation her soul struggles with his own doubt and his parent’s opposition. ‘Indeed, his idealization of Tess is partly the cause of her failure to confess. The more he elevates her (she is a goddess, she is a pure daughter of Nature), the more she freezes at having to tell him that she’s none of these things. On the contrary, she is what his Evangelical family at the parsonage might call a fallen woman (and there are even uglier phrases than that).’ Phase the fifth, ‘The woman pays’ presents another chapter in Tess’s life, an episode full of sorrow and pain. Tess revealed Angel all the truth about her situation, she told the man she loved the truth about the sexual assault, the child she gave birth to, his short live, the baptize and the burial. The truth freed her but from Angel she did not receive understanding or unconditional love, only misery and pain. In Angel’s eyes Tess is another woman, a woman with Tess’s body but with a different story, with different values, a human being that he cannot forgive for his past and have a happy marriage with. Phase the sixth, ‘The convert’, represents the story of Alec who is now a ‘preacher’ and is religious converted. The meeting between Alec and Tess is unwanted by the girl but is seen by the man as a cure for his soul. Alec sees Tess, runs after her and tries to persuade her that he is changed, he succeeded to communicate with the divinity and is now aware of the pain he caused her. He makes Tess promise that she will never tempt him again. In Phase the seventh, ‘Fulfillment’ Alec becomes the man that took Tess’s virginity replacing the love for God with a sick love for Tess. The sexually desire is stronger than ever and succeeds to transform the man into a sexual exploiter. Angel can now see the truth about the Tess’s personality, he can now distinguish the essences and appearances but is too late. ‘In accordance with the fulfillment of the seventh day of creation, Tess will now rest. Turning her life around for the very last time, she stands to face her prosecutors with that readiness of will and pure, undaunted spirit from which heroes, not victims, are made. Where Christ’s words were ‘it is done,’ Tess’s words are ‘I am ready’.’ Was Tess the victim of the inevitable fate? Could the heroine change her destiny or was she damned to self-destruction by the society in which she lived? Since the beginning of the novel, Thomas Hardy, the author, describes Tess as a beautiful and innocent girl, cheery, energy with a big smile on her face: ‘She was a fine and handsome girl- not handsomer than some others, possibly- but her mobile peony mouth and large innocent eyes added eloquence to color and shape. She wore a red ribbon in her hair, and was the only one of the white company who could boast of such a pronounced adornment.’ Using the adjectives ‘fine’ and ‘handsome’ the author suggests that Tess is not just a peasant girl who can pass unnoticed, on the contrary, she is a charming girl having all the necessary physique resources for making a man, a rich man maybe, falling in love with her and saving her poor existence. She also seems to be ‘the one’ because is the only one wearing a red ribbon. Tess is the most beautiful heroine Hardy has created. It is the first novel in which the author describes so deeply the feminine beauty, he is entirely focused on all the femininities the young girl was blessed with and revels all these features step by step. ‘Failures to see Tess rightly are everywhere in the novel, however, for the opportunity to look at her is offered again and again to one pair of eyes after another, as if it were a test, a measure of value. Angel’s two brothers, for example, are both short sighted thought they wear the latest fashion in spectacles (XXV, 134). Blindly, they pass right by Tess, on the day she walked fifteen miles to Emminster Vicarage to ask for help from her father in law. To them, she is invisible.’ ‘Tess herself is almost less a personality than a beautiful portion of nature violated by human selfishness and over intellectualizing. She is the least flawed of Hardy’s protagonists, but also the least human.’ The mixture between red and white (Tess is wearing a red ribbon and a white dress) used by Thomas Hardy isn’t an accidental choice-it has a deep signification and seems to be the author’s way of saying that this girl won’t have a common destiny, she will have a different existence, a scintillating life. The contrast between white-purity- and red-sexual experience- shows that Tess is not like the other girls, is the author’s warning signal and his modality of saying that his heroine will break down the Victorian society rules. At the May Day festivities Tess first meets Angel. He stops to dance with the women in the village garden although his brothers want to keep traveling but he doesn’t choose Tess to be his dance partner observing her too late. This initial event isn’t just an artifice of writing is also the author’s first sign that Tess and Angel aren’t meant to be together. Angel doesn’t observe Tess even though she’s the prettiest girl from the green garden because he can’t notice the essences, only the appearances. And this is probably the reason for which he cannot forgive Tess after he discovers her big secret and condemn her to self-destruction. Tess’s fate is decided by the men in her life. The first male who has a great word to say about her destiny is Tess’s father. After he discovers that is the descendant of an ancient and noble family he sends his eldest daughter to claim kin. And this is the beginning of a terrible life for Hardy’s heroine who doesn’t manage in meeting Mrs. D’Urbervilles but chances to meet her debauched son, Alec. ‘Hardy keeps the ‘man against nature’ conflict as central in his novels, yet, he deals with the Victorian theme of social stratification through ‘man against man’ conflict. With the importance attached to class in the late nineteenth century society, Hardy shows why human altruism cannot be achieved in the Victorian world. In a society in which the concept of class has already been established to form the individual relations of conflict and contract, John Durbeyfield is under the illusion that his ‘aristocratic background’ is significant since this background connects him to the rich d’Urbervilles. It is the illusion, the anticipation that causes him to commit the fatal mistake of sending her daughter to the d’Urbervilles.’ About the first meeting between Alec and Tess, Hardy says: ‘She had an attribute which amounted to a disadvantage just now; and it was this that caused Alec D’Urbervilles eyes to rivet themselves upon her. It was a luxuriance of aspect, a fullness of growth, which made her appear more of a woman than she really was. She had inherited the feature from her mother without the quality it denoted. It had troubled her mind occasionally, till her companions had said that it was a fault which time would cure.’ Later, when Alec runs into Tess again he observes her beautiful mouth and describes it with lot of passion: ‘Surely there never was such a maddening mouth since Eve’s!’ Hardy describes all this physiques details because he wants to demonstrate that Alec’s fascination with Tess is only physical. Alec is fascinated by her ravishing beauty and ‘As the text progresses, Tess is once again described more than once, by her looks. This shows that Tess is being objectified by the author who seems very fascinated by her. He talks about her mouth and her lips as though he wants to kiss her.’ Angel is also fascinated by Tess’ physical features: ‘How very lovable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarnation. And it was in her mouth that this culminated. Eyes almost as deep and speaking he had seen before, and cheeks perhaps as fair; brows as arched, a chin and throat almost as shapely; her mouth he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth. To a young man with the least fire in him that little upward life in the middle of her red top lip was distracting, infatuating, maddening.’ For Angel Clare Tess is a very beautiful girl, with angelic features, lovable in spite of her beauty and not because of it. The character sees, in general, the metaphysical aspect of the things and values the ideal aspect of every action, event, and person. His name, ‘Angel Clare’ is a significant clue of his personality: His last name ‘Clare’ is the English translation for the French word ‘Clair’ and defines a person with a real capability of understanding the world, a person who lives in mind and is preoccupied with the mystical face of the humanity. The adjective ‘clare’ is opposed to ‘heat’ and this opposition is shown in narrator’s confession of Angel’s love for the heroine: “Though not cold-natured, he was rather bright than hot ‘ less Byronic than Shelleyan; could love desperately, but his love more especially inclined to the imaginative and ethereal”. Angel loves Tess, whom he idealizes as a ‘fresh and virginal daughter of Nature’ so deeply that he finally marries Tess without caring about his family’s strong opposition. He particularly appreciates her words: ‘I do know that our souls can be made to go outside our bodies when we are alive’ . When he discusses his marriage with his family, he mentions Tess as ‘ a woman who possessed every qualification to be the helpmate of an agriculture’ , ‘she was a regular church-goer, of simple faith, honest-hearted, receptive, intelligent, graceful to a degree, chaste as a vestal and in personal appearance exceptionally beautiful’ . Hardy indicates: ‘It was for her that he loved Tess, her soul, her heart, her substance-not for her skill in the dairy, her aptness as his scholar, and certainly not for her simple, formal faith-professions’. Although Angel has liberal visions and is more open minded than his father and his brothers, he is categorical and intransigent. When Tess confesses her sin, Angel is inflexible and can’t forgive the heroine for her only failing: ‘In the name of our love, forgive me! I have forgiven you for the same! Forgive me as you are forgiven!’ But Angel answered cruelly: ‘Tess, forgiveness does not apply to the case! You were one person; now you are another.’ ‘I will obey you, like your wretched slave, even if it is to lie down and die.’ ‘You are very good. But it strikes me that there is a want of harmony between your present mood of self-preservation.’ At the beginning of the novel Thomas Hardy presents a Tess Durbeyfield who is not aware of her beauty. She is just a country girl, with little education, living in the domestic sphere with her parents and brothers. Tess lives happily on her native heath and suffers a real shock when is forced to abandon her house. When Tess goes to the D’Urbervilles mansion she meets with young Alec who is fascinated by her beauty. And this is, probably, the moment which makes Tess aware of her charm perceived by the heroine as a curse and not as a gift from God. Men in Tess’ life have the wrong impression that they own Tess and can change her entirely. Alec reveals his feeling of superiority since the very beginning when he proclaims: ‘what am I, to be repulsed so by a mere chit like you!’ Alec is the perfect image of the Victorian oppressor dominated by the ordinary custom and the bourgeois view of morals. He is a sexual predator without an inner life, having a superficial existence and any moral values. The character is narcissistic, individualistic and heartless. Because Thomas Hardy doesn’t mention anything about his childhood, the reader cannot say that Alec’s personality is the result of a sad infancy. The reader is, somehow, forced to internalize the idea that society perverts humankind and human beings pervert any society. ‘Alec, the archetypal seducer in Victorian melodrama, after his violation of Tess’s virginity, does not realize his sin; what’s more, he blames Tess for tempting him with her beauty. He does the wrong and shifts it onto the victim. The social consensus does not condemn or punish Alec. Instead it disdains and hunts Tess wherever she goes. The innocent pays for the guilty; the sinned suffers for the sinner.’ Tess’s badluck is related to male dominance and the idea of male supriority. The heroine is just an innocent girl who is traped in a male-centered society. She doesn’t now anything about the world she lives in. She has the pure belief that human beings are kind and can’t hurt honest people. She knows little about love because she has never been in love. For her love is: ‘patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.’ Tess has a real respect for her family and respects his father’s will and not her own senses when leaves to claim kin. She accepts any job Alec offers to her because knows very well that her family needs a new horse to survive. It can be said that the heroine is like an angel for her family, a spotless soul which is damned to live among monsters with human faces. Alec is the first master of disguises Tess meets. Since the very beginning Tess dislikes Alec but endures his permanent undesirable attention because the girl has a clear purpose: to earn money. Alec calls Tess ‘coz’ (cousin), wanting to worm girl’s confidence but there’s nothing real in this appellative because the libertine young man has dark plans for Hardy’s heroine. Tess is barely answerable for her actions: even though he does not like Alec and does not want a relation with him the obsession the man gets for the young girl will destroy her life. Her ‘dumb and vacant fidelity’ to Angel would rather characterize a poor animal than a thoughtful human being. Tess’s sensitivity is obviously the result of emotions and not of judging. Hardy reveals that the adoration the girl has for Angel is intense maybe extreme, but the author sees in her feelings something pure, emotions that translate generosity, self-sacrifice, forgiveness. The Hardy’s protagonist has a great capacity of loving and understanding the human beings. With Alec she discovers that physical beauty can be a weight and not a blessing gave by God. She is a beautiful ‘object’ that Alec wants to add to his collection. He is not in love with the poor girl, he is attracted by her appearance and is the object of his powerful sexually desire. ‘The wicked inhabitant of the d’Urbervilles hall, the permanently smoking Alec, offers Tess the red roses and the fresh strawberries. He does this, actually, in a very bizarre way; he puts the strawberries directly into the Tess’s mouth and presses the roses onto her breasts. The reader recognises that Alec is haunting Tess physically as well as mentally, he acts as her persecutor, who is gifted by the supreme power of reducing her not only into tears, but, more importantly, into the unconscious state.’ Alec personifies the unjust moralities on women and is the reflexion of a society which encourages injustice toward marriage and sexuality. Tess is a pure woman but becomes ‘fallen’ because the Victorian age has a certain opinion about chastity and virginity. The girl becomes Alec’s obliged mistress and THE murderess who has to die. Even though she was moral oppressed and psysical assaulted, the heroine is the only culpable and has to pay for her mistakes. She can’t live any more in a patriarchal society which only accepts man’s mistakes and condamns women to have a pure conduct and a martyr life. Tess is doomed to tragedy. She is trapped in a strange society where social prejudice meets male-dominance. ‘Tess’s story, to some extent, reflects the rigidity of convention, the harshness of social law and the prejudice of morality in maledominated patriarchal society. Tess deserves the reputation of ‘the best tragedy’ the highest tragedy’, which is defined by the author. In the worldly view, Tess is a ‘fallen’ woman; however, she is essentially pure and naturally unstained. Tess is a pure woman as Hardy’s subtitle describes. Tess is tragic but pure.’ ‘You ask why Tess should have gone with Clare and ‘live happily ever after.’ Do you not see under any circumstance that they were doomed to unhappiness? A sensitive man like Angel Clare could never have been happy with her. After the first few months he would inevitably have thrown her failings in her face. He did not recoil from her after the murder is true. He was in love with her failings then I suppose; he had not seen her for a long time; with the inconsistency of human nature he forgave the greater sin when he could not pardon the lesser.’ Tess had a tragic fate. All she ever wanted was little happiness, to love and to be loved. Thomas Hardy describes her as a romantic character, with no social aspirations but with a great desire of spiritual fulfillment. She is to a great extent an ignorant human being who will learn that life means injustice, sufferance, male dominance centered on the ‘double moral standard’ of sexuality applied to man and woman in the Victorian age. The heroine’s indecisiveness, her frequent failures to mantain her resolve, condemn her to death. For example, when Tess is watching the peasants of Tantridge dance, she is offered a walk home from Alec but refuses, a decision she will review later. Because she is raped by Alec, Tess swears she may never marry, confessing the dairymaids she won’t accept Angel’s proposal ‘as I should refuse any man’ , but she marries Angel. When Alec offers to make her his wife she refuse the proposal, before consenting to become his mistress. Tess’ final uncertain decision is related to Angel Clare: when he comes to take her home with him the girl immediately refuse and advice him to ‘keep away’ because is ‘Too late! Too late!’ but, in the end, she murders Alec and runs to embrace her husband. Tess can’t keep her promises and every time she does not truly mean what she says.
Bibliography Chapter Two
1. Blathway, Taymond, A Chat with the Author of Tess, Black and White, IV. Macmillan, 1892, London.
2. Casagrande, P., ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles unorthodox beauty’, New York: Twaye, 1992.
3. Danielova, M., ‘The concept of purity in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Faculty of Education, Brno, December 2010.
4. Ertu??rul, Ko??, ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the tragedy of a Godless human existence’, Journals of Arts and Sciences, 12 decembrie 2009, Universitatea Cankaya.
5. Freeman, J., Studies in Philology, 1982 University of North Carolina Press, Vol 79, No.3
6. Hardy, T., Tess of the D’Urbervilles, edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell, with a new introduction by Penny Boumelha, Oxford University Press, New York, 1983.
7. Holmberg, Mona, ‘Tess, a victim of her society’, in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, Lulea University of Technology, Department of Language and Culture, 2003
8. Morgan, R., Student companion to Thomas Hardy, Greenwood Press, London, 2007.
9. Rogers, Katharine, The Centennial Review, Vol 19, No. 4, 1975 Michigan State University Press
10. Zhen, C., ‘Tess in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles- victim of social prejudice and male dominance in Victorian patriarchal society’, societyhttp://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/acd/cg/lt/rb/600/600PDF/chen.PDF
RAPE OR SEDUCTION?
Was Tess raped or lied and seduced?
Is Angel an ‘angel”?Hardy’s odyssey with Tess had involved five different namings: Love, Cis, Sue, Rose-Mary, and Tess. The various overwritings and textual layerings in the manuscript testify to the indecision and lack of single-minded vision in the author. Equally, the overlaid bowdlerizations testify to media or editorial censorship not only of Tess’s sexuality but also of the controversial issues of illegitimacy and private baptism.’ Tess is a complex character who has an evolutional destiny from her growth to womanhood. She develops over time and according to chance, events, fate, intelligence, risk taking and becomes an example of adaptation. Tess is the object of Alec d’Uberville’s shameful purposes. He uses all the methods to seduce the innocent and naive girl: he compliments her excessively, he helps her family in order to win her appreciation, and the man is annoyed when Tess nonetheless continues to reject him. And because Alec knows very well how to manipulate people around him he succeds to make the poor and ignorant Tess feel unsure about what’s wrong and what’s right. The heroine has deep rooted moral precepts in her poor education. Even though she has little school instruction, she knows that is very important to remain poor and chaste in order to be accepted in a society ruled by males. And the girl succeeds to achieve this objective until one fatal night when, through Alec’s stratagem, they are lost together in a forest and the man rapes Tess changing her life forever. About this episode of a significant meaning for the entire novel Hardy does not go into detail but rather, he reflects: ‘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 receive; 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.’ Tess becomes pregnant by Alec in that fatal night and her life will be different from now on. ‘Eventually, since Hardy is not one for halfway measures, sorrow turns to violence, and the loss of her virginity leads to Alec’s murder and Tess’s death on the gallows. Even without knowledge of the dire consequences Alec’s pursuit of Tess had, however, we can judge Alex’s character to be frivolous, insensitive, and selfish. The question here, however, is whether he is also a rapist.’ We do not know what exactly happened under the tree. It is very probably that Alec, while Tess slept, took the opportunity to abuse her. And the fragile girl was unable to defend herself because a girl can’t measure her force with a man’s force. But is also possible that, given Tess’ tiredness and disorientation, he could persuade the poor girl to agree to have sex with him. Alec, possibly, used once more his tricky words he had been using for the past months and succeded to convince Tess that she loved him and the scene under the tree was just the expression of that love. ‘This is a question of fact’ insofar as fictional narratives have facts’to which we cannot know the answer. The issue here, however, is whether it makes any difference. […] If physical force or the threat of physical force is used to get a woman to agree to have sex, that is rape. If psychological force is used, can that also be rape”?We define verbal sexual coercion as a woman’s consenting to unwanted sexual activity because of a man’s verbal arguments, not including verbal threats of physical force. Men use many types of verbal coercion to obtain sex: threatening to end the relationship or to find someone else to satisfy their sexual needs; telling a woman that her refusal to have sex was changing the way they felt about her; asserting that ‘everybody does it’ or questioning the woman’s sexuality . . . making the woman feel guilty; . . . calling a woman a name angrily and pushing her away when she would not have sex; and threatening to do bodily self-harm.’ Although the young Tess is dependent economically on Alec and has another social position- she is a country girl without money and with little education- she has resisted his flirting. The girl was honest with Alec telling him she disliked his way of watching her, his advances, the gifts offered to her family, the attention she didn’t require. She has real moral values and cannot be bought with words or with money. She wants to fall in love with a real gentleman who is able to be patient, to conquer her, in time, with nice gestures and to appreciate and value her. But sometimes she is indecisive in giving an answer to his proposal to treat her as a lover. She says: ‘ I don’t know- I wish-how can I say yes or no when-” . Is that a flirt, an unconsciously encouraging? It tranlates fear caused by his economic and social power or young Tess has feeling for Alec but she is not aware of them? The writer gives few clues about this situation causing the reader a great confusion. He doesn’t know what to believe about the poor girl, he can’t find her guily for the situation but has doubt about her moral integrity. Is she an angel or a seductive and indecisive woman? Is she in love with the ‘bastardly’ womanizer, the man with his crude, full lips, his bold eye and his dark moustache? The weather conditions work against Tess. The fatal night is a foggy one. Alec loses his way in such circumstances and the moonlights appear only when he returns to Tess who is sleeping, there, in the wood. Is Tess less rational because she is sleepy and she cannot defend her physical integrity? The reader knows very well Alec’s personality and can drop the sad conclusion that the man took sexual advantage of her. ‘Hardy takes for granted that Tess becomes the target of the victimization simply because she is ‘still alive’ and ‘of the female sex.’ Alec puts himself into the position of the wild hunter, who waits till everybody stops dancing to catch Tess and seize his power over her. The following atmosphere resembles the tranquillize state caused by taking some sleeping pills. Alec with Tess on the same horse passes through the Chase. Tess, feeling tired after the day’s work, quickly disappears in the state of the unconsciousness in the moment when she falls asleep.’ Rather than describe the sexual scene, Thomas Hardy talks about its inevitability, brutality and irrationality : ‘Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissues, sensitive as gossamer and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man, many thousands years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our sense of order.’ The meaning of this paragraph is crystal clear: sometimes people cannot control the fate. Some people are born to suffer, the universe has strange plans for them. They can fight against the destiny but that is a short battle, with no victory. Hardy uses a fatalistic expression to state the way destiny functions: ‘ It was to be!’ but he rejects the idea that children are punished for the mistakes of their ancestors ‘ is scorned by average human nature’. When Tess’s mother presents her daughter the idea about getting Alec to marry her, the heroine is offended: ‘She had dreaded him, winced before him, succumbed to adroit advantages he took of her helplessness; then, temporarily blinded by his ardent manners, had been stirred to confused surrender awhile, had suddenly despised and disliked him, and had run away. That was all.’ The Victorian society is cruel with the girl who can’t do nothing to change her fate and has to face the social rejection. She is seen now as an immoral woman, a sinner who must be punished. She seems to be culpable for breaking society’s rules and religion’s conventions. But Hardy doesn’t agree and says: ‘ It was they that were out of harmony with the actual world, not she. Walking among the sleeping birds in the hedges, watching the skipping rabbits on a moonlit warren, or standing under a pheasant-laden bough, she looked upon herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of Innocence. But all the while, she was making a distinction where there was no difference. Feeling herself in antagonism, she was quite in accord. She had been made to break an accepted social law, but no law known to the environment in which she fancied herself such an anomaly.’ Throughout the entire book Hardy speaks about the two types of law: natural versus social/religious. Natural laws are known as ‘a system of right or justice held to be common to all humans and derived from nature rather than from the rules of society, or positive law.’ ‘Walking among the sleeping birds in the hedges, watching the skipping rabbits on a moonlit warren, or standing under a pheasant-laden bough, she looked upon herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of Innocence. But all the while she was making a distinction where there was no difference. Feeling herself in antagonism she was quite in accord. She had been made to break an accepted social law, but no law known to the environment in which she fancied herself such an anomaly.’ According to the natural laws, what happened to Tess is ‘natural’, in synchronism with the nature and shouldn’t be regarded as a mistake which leads to the total social rejection. Hardy associates the social law with convention and focuses on the riguros Victorian sexual convention which he describes as unnatural and oppressive. According to the natural laws, Tess is a pure woman. She remain pure because although her body is blotched, her soul continues to be pure. But, is Hardy’s claim valid? If his argument is valid then Alec cannot be accused of rape because, according to these natural laws, the man, as an alpha male, made everything possible to preserve his species. In conclusion, Hardy’s argument can’t be valid. Besides the social rejection, Tess’ loss of virginity ‘changed her from simple girl to complex woman. Symbols of reflectiveness passed into her face and a note of tragedy at times into her voice. Her eyes grew larger and more eloquent. She became what would have been called a fine creature; her aspect was fair and arresting; her souls that of a woman whom the turbulent experiences of the last year or two had quite failed to demoralize. But for the world’s opinion those experiences would have been simply a liberal education.’ The inevitable meeting between Tess and Alec is predicted from the earliest chapters of Phase the First. Hardy gives clues about the imminent encounter using symbols and symbolic events: the colors red and white, the virgins’dance, Alec’s giving Tess strawberries and the death of Prince. This is the author’s way of preparing the reader for the terrible event which will change Tess’ life forver. Hardy describes the moment very carrefully: ‘Tess!’ said d’Urberville. There was no answer. The obscurity was now so great that he could see absolutely nothing but a pale nebulousness at his feet, which represented the white muslin figure he had left upon the dead leaves. Everything else was blackness alike. D’Urberville stooped; and heard a gentle regular breathing. He knelt, and bent lower, till her breath warmed his face, and in a moment his cheek was in contact with hers. She was sleeping soundly, and upon her eyelashes there lingered tears.’ Analysing the description, William A. Davis, Jr. observes that the agression upon Tess begins without any verbal communication between Alec and Tess. The heroine is asleep and doesn’t give an answer to Alec’s accost. ‘The silence ruled everywhere around’ says Hardy. The physical contact is at first kind and caressing ‘her breath warmed his face , and in a moment his cheek was in contact with hers’ and this affirmation is followed with the statement that the heroine ‘was sleeping soundly’ . ‘Subsequent descriptive details- the narrator mentions Tess’ absent ‘guardian angel’ , the ‘coarse pattern’ about to be traced upon Tess, ‘the possibility of a retribution lurking in the present catastrophe’ , and the certainty that Tess’ ‘mailed ancestors rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of her time’ – all suggest the violent nature of Alec assault. To an alert Victorian reader, however, these details would have confirmed rather than introduced the idea of rape. The rape of Tess actually begins with the passage that describe Tess’ sleep and her lack of verbal response- the passage, in short, that establishes her lack of consent to Alec’s advances.’ ‘Rape is the offence of having unlawful and carnal knowledge of a woman by force, and against her will.’ Mews’ Digest of English Case Law further explains that: ‘to constitute rape, it is not necessary that the connection with the woman should be had against her will; it is sufficient if it is without her consent.’ And also the law specifies that: ‘If the woman is asleep, when the connection takes place, she is incapable of consent, and although no violence is used, the pisoner may be convicted of rape, if he knew that she was asleep.’ Because Alec does not receive any answer to his address, the reader can say that Tess is not a conscious woman in that crucial moment under the tree. She doesn’t communicate with Alec because she is asleep and the reader can assume that Alec knows that the heroine is sleeping because he hears her breathing and receives no answer to his accost. Hardy intentionally introduces that episode full of signification at the beginning of the woods scene: he tries, in a subtle manner, to inoculate to his readers the idea that Tess is raped and not seduced. The girl isn’t awake, her consciousness is completely or partially lost. This sleep is crucial for the poor girl because does not allow her to return to her former condition and brings her to a new stage- the girl is obliged to start a new chapter in her poor existence. With the beginning of Phase the Second Hardy gives another signification to the scene under the tree: he seems to replace the idea of rape with the idea of seduction: Tess isn’t any more a victim of Alec’s desire, she is an accomplice in a romantic relationship of several months’ duration. ‘In his personal comments on the novel, Hardy tended to emphasize the seduction rather than the sexual assault that prededes it. For example, in a letter written in 1891 to thank Thomas Macquoid for his praise of the serial Tess, Hardy refers to the seduction (but not the rape) of Tess in the forthcoming volume edition: ?? Clare’s character [in the serial] suffers owing to a mock mariage having been substituted for the seduction pure & simple of the original MS.- which I did for the sake of the Young Girl. The true reading will be restored in the volumes.?? Thus, Hardy saw seduction as a major part of the true reading of Tess.’ Why does Thomas Hardy offer few details about the scene under the tree? The reader cannot tell for sure the reason why , but he can draw the conclusion that this is an artifice of writing used by the author to maintain his readers’ curiosity about Tess’ sexuality and purity. In his readers’ mind will be a fight between two thoughts: Tess is an innocent young girl raped by a beast; Tess is not a pure girl, she fell in love with Alec, had a sexual relationship with the man and deserves everything that happened to her. ‘As I have suggested, Hardy’s writing (and rewriting) of the first of these events- the assault upon Tess in Phase the First- grew out of his knowledge of English rape law. The legal premise that a sleeping woman is incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse was routinely upheld in Victorian courts. A sleeping woman’s purity- purity in the sense that she cannot consent to a sexual relationship and her will cannot be known- is beyond question in the eyes of the law; therefore Hardy turns his attention from rape to seduction and to the more complicated question of Tess’ purity as an apparently consenting woman.’ Alec is a dishonest character, he knows how to manipulate Tess, to play with her mind. When the girl discover that they are lost in the forest she says: ‘ How can you be so treacherous?….just when I’ve been putting such trust in you’ . Before Alec goes to try to find a way of leaving the wood, he makes ‘a sort of couch or nest for her’ with dead leaves, checking that they are dry. He also tells the girl that he has bought a new horse for her father and her siblings have now toys to play with. Alec covers her ‘tenderly’ with his coat and goes to find the way. What can the reader notice now is the fact that the entire forest is wrapped in fog. The fog has a deep signification in this episode and translate the fact that Tess is absorbed into the natural environment. Fog symbolizes confusion, danger, and the unseen. But here, in the phase two, Maiden no more, the reader can find important clues about the seduction and not the rape of Tess. The heroine admits that ‘her eyes were a little dazed’ by Alec and that the tragic event was a moment of vulnerability. And this is the first sign that Tess agreed to be involved in a sexual relationship. She accuses Alec for seducing her and not for an sexual assault. Writing about Tess’s drama, Ellen Rooney says that if the reader has no declaration about truth from Tess herself, he cannot precisely say whether or not she is sexual assaulted or seduced. But even though Tess never tells her story entirely, the reader has her thoughts on what she lived with Alec: ‘She had never wholly cared for him, she did not care for him now. She had dreaded him, winced before him, succumbed to adroit advantages he took of her helplessness; then, temporarily blinded by his ardent manners, had been stirred to confused surrender awhile: had suddenly despised and disliked him, and had run away. That was all. Hate him she did not quite; but he was dust and ashes to her, and even for her name’s sake she scarcely wished to marry him.’ ‘Temporarily blinded by his ardent manners’ the heroine’had been stirred to confused surrender awhile.’ From Tess’ declaration the reader can draw the conclusion that for a little period of time the girl was superficially attracted to Alec and sexually stirred by him. She never ‘wholly’ loved the man and this is a strong reason to believe that the heroine could not have consented to have sexual relations with him. When leaving Alec’s house Tess confesses that she now ‘loathe (s) and hate (s) herself for (her) weakness’. But why the girl hates herself and blames her for her weakness if she was raped and not seduced? Why doesn’t she hate Alec for his cruelty? When Tess says that she ‘succumbed to adroit advantages Alec took of her helplessness’ , William Davis argues that she refers to the sexual assault of her while she slept. Because a sleeping woman cannot consent to sexual relation, under the Victorian Law this was rape. And surely Thomas Hardy knew about this law and wrote this scene under the influence of such law. To conform Hardy’s intentions to Victorian law on rape, Davis argues that what the author calls ‘seduction pure & simple’ was rape followed by seduction. Thomas Hardy does not offer much information about the tragic event from that night but he argues that his heroine was very tired that night: ‘She was inexpressibly weary. She had risen at five o’clock every morning of that week, had been on foot the whole of each day, and on this evening had, in addition, walked the three miles to Chaseborough, waited three hours for her neighbours without eating or drinking, her impatience to start them preventing either; she had then walked a mile of the way home, and had undergone the excitement of the quarrel, till, with the slow progress of their steed, it was now nearly one o’clock. Only once, however, was she overcome by actual drowsiness. In that moment of oblivion her head sank gently against him.’ Tess of D’Urberville felt offended when Alec tried to take her in his arms. The girl knows that she is not safe, alone, with this man in the woods but she can do nothing to change this situation: ‘D’Urberville stopped the horse, withdrew his feet from the stirrups, turned sideways on the saddle, and enclosed her waist with his arm to support her. This immediately put her on the defensive, and with one of those sudden impulses of reprisal to which she was liable she gave him a little push from her. In his ticklish position he nearly lost his balance and only just avoided rolling over into the road, the horse, though a powerful one, being fortunately the quietest he rode.’ Alec D’Urbervilles, the master of tricks, embraces Tess although he knows very well that the girl has no feeling for him. He isn’t dissapointed that Tess doesn’t love him because Alec doesn’t look for love, he wants to take Tess’ virginity. ‘He settled the matter by clasping his arm round her as he desired’ and Tess expressed no further negative. Thus they sidled slowly onward till it struck her they had been advancing for an unconscionable time’ far longer than was usually occupied by the short journey from Chaseborough, even at this walking pace, and that they were no longer on hard road, but in a mere trackway.’ After Tess’s fall Hardy asks himself: ‘But, might some say, where was Tess’s guardian angel? where was the Providence of her simple faith? Perhaps, like that other god of whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awaked. 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 receive; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong woman the man […]’ Due to Tess’s first fall, her sexual experience with Alec, the girl is seen as a fallen woman who must be despised and discredited wherever she goes. When she comes back to Marlott she is gossiped and indirect attacked. In the church ‘the people who had turned their heads turned them again as the service proceeded; and at last observing her they whispered to each other.’ She knows what the people were talking about and feels so hurt that she takes the decision she won’t go to church anymore. Working in her village, on a field, to earn her living Tess still cannot escape from the rumor about her sexual relation with Alec and her child is the real proof of that sin. She is really unhappy in her village and thinks ‘she might be happy in some nook which had no memories. To escape the past and all that appertained thereto was to annihilate it; and to do that she would have to get away.’ Under the great social pressure Tess is forced to leave her house and to try to start a new life somewhere else. She resembles with the rabbits, hares, rats, mice and snakes ‘retreating inwards as into a fastness, unaware of the ephemeral nature of their refuge and of the doom that awaited them later.’ ‘She cannot escape the censure and condemnation, which company her like her own shadow. She is hunted everywhere. Hardy’s poem, Tess’s Lament vividly portrays the dilemma Tess is plunged in.
I would that folk forgot me quite,
Forgot me quite!
I would that I could shrink from sight,
And no more see the sun.
Would it were time to say farewell,
To claim my nook, to need my knell,
Time for them all to stand and tell
O’ my day’s work as done.’
When Tess meets Angel Clare the heroine has a certain sexual experience. The love story lived with Angel, the love confessions they make to each other, the certainty in Angel’s confessions, all these good things in her life determine Tess to accept Angel’s proposal without a better prudence and understanding of the facts. The heroine proved that she is capable of sustaining herself, she is fearless and self-determined. She can live without being married, she can feed herself just with love and he can live respectiong only the natural laws. ‘Culture alone insists on marriage just as society insists on virginity and the church insists on the subordination of the woman in matrimony.’ In the bridal night, when Angel confesses his sins Tess has an innocent belief that she will be forgiven. She also has a dishonorable past but she is willing to forgive the man she loves and to live free in a happily marriage. Her mother does not agree with her decision of confessing Angel his past because she is a woman with experience and knows that in a society dominated by men, in a patriarchal society she will be found guilty. ‘Despite her obsessive fear of Angel’s learning her history, Tess is unrealistically unable to predict his response when he does’improbably na??ve in her jubilation that her transgression is ‘just the same’ as his’. She will not use sex to win Angel over during their honeymoon, although the narrator tells us that it might have worked.’ Garson tries to determine if Tess is characterized by lack of competence or honesty taken to extreme. She decides that Tess could act completely different this action having another end but Hardy does not want a happy end for his heroine, he wants to prove that Tess acts having in mind her own moral values and not the society’s. Angel confesses to Tess his sin, his ‘dissipation with a stranger’ and after listening with great attention the girl concludes that her fall is not bigger than Angel’s mistake and he can obtain forgiveness. ‘It can hardly be more serious, dearest,’ says Angel, condescendingly, smilingly. ‘It cannot’O no, it cannot!’ She jumped up joyfully at the hope. ‘No, it cannot be more serious, certainly,’ she cried. ‘I will tell you now.’ She sat down again. Their hands were still joined. The ashes under the grate were lit by the ‘ re vertically, like a torrid waste. Her imagination beheld a Last Day luridness in this red- coaled glow, which fell on his face and hand, and on hers, peering into the loose hair about her brow, and ‘ ring the delicate skin underneath. According to Rosemarie Morgan (Student Companion to Thomas Hardy, p.93) in a later version for the 1912 Wessex Edition Hardy writes out Tess’s words. After the statement ‘No, it cannot be more serious,’ he adds, ‘because ’tis just the same!’ Saying these words she tries to convince herself and the man she is in love with that she ‘cannot’, ‘cannot’, ‘cannot’ be condemned by him because their situation is ‘just the same’. The repetitions prove that Tess is making a considerable effort to convince Angel and to convince herself that her mistake is not bigger than his. Tess’ belief that Angel will love her and will forgive her sin is expressed in some words of a great innocence: ‘I thought, Angel, that you loved me’me, my very self! If it is I you do love, O how can it be that you look and speak so? It frightens me! Having begun to love you, I love you forever’in all changes, in all disgraces, because you are yourself. I ask no more. Then how can you, O my own husband, stop loving me’? Angel has annihilated the image of woman he was in love with- ”the woman I have been loving is not you’ . Tess is scared and terrified; ‘Terror was upon her white face’ and her full and beautiful mouth that once charmed Angel and reminded him of ‘roses filled with snow’ is cursed ‘a round little hole’ ‘Angel, to a far greater extent than Tess, is formed and shaped by his past. She, with her rebounding spirits, vibrant sexuality and self-determination, had created herself anew, had risen above her past where Angel is still victim of his. Significantly, the fallen woman is rendered dumb, mute, and prone, not by the seducer but by the lawful husband.’ Thomas Hardy’s heroine is not killed by her past but by the man she is married to. Even though her sin is still alive in her soul, Tess succeeded to forgive herself and to start a new life far away from the man who raped her and away from the family that did not succeed to understand her sorrow and to cure her wounds. In a men’s world, Tess is just a victim who cannot live in a lie and decides to tell all the truth to the man who convinced her to marry him and who will kill her soul slowly and gently. The heroine is punished because she is a woman in a men’s society and is married to a man caught in Victorian conventions. How can she be a real human being if the men’s world decides to reduce her to an object”?Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being’.she is simply what man decrees’.she is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her. She is the incidental, the unessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute- she is the Other.’
Bibliography Chapter Three
1. Conly, Sarah, ‘Seduction, rape and coercition’, Ethics 115: 96-121, October 2004, University of Chicago Press
2. Danielova, M., ‘The concept of purity in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Faculty of Education, Brno, December 2010
3. Davis, W., Thomas Hardy and the law, Legal Presences in Hardy’s Life and Fiction, Rosemont publishing and and printing corp, 2003
4. Garson, M., Hardy’s Fables of Integrity: Woman, Body, Text, Oxford University Press, 1991
5. Hardy, T., Tess of the D’Urbervilles, edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell, with a new introduction by Penny Boumelha, Oxford University Press, New York, 1983.
6. Hardy, T., ‘Letter to Thomas Macquoid ‘, 29 Oct 1981, in The collected letters of Thomas Hardy, ed. Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate, 7 vols., (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1978-88, 245-246).
7. Morgan, R., Women and Sexuality in the novels of Thomas Hardy, Routledge London and New York, 2006
8. Morgan, R., Student companion to Thomas Hardy, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, London, 2007
9. Muelenhard, C., & Shrag, J., ‘Nonviolent sexual coercition’, in Acquaintance rape, the hidden crime’, Wiley & Sons, New York, 1991.
10. Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. H. N. Parshley, New York, 1953, p. xiv.
11. Zhen, C., ‘Tess in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles- victim of social prejudice and male dominance in Victorian patriarchal society’.
Anna Karenina and Tess of D’Urberville- a tragic destiny
Anna Karenina is a novel wrote by the russian writer Lev Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877. Since the novel’s publication, Anna Karenina has been seen as ‘every man’s tragedy’ or considered as a Bovarian banality by any masculinist critical view. Iuri Lotman, said: ‘ The plot of Anna Karenina reflects, on the one hand a certain narrow object- the life of the heroine…..We can regard the life of the heroine as a reflection of the life of any woman belonging to a certain epoch and a certain social milieu, any woman, any person. Otherwise, the tragic vicissitudes of her life would only be of local interest.’ Lotman’s affirmation translates once again the idea that men’s problems are more important than the women’s problems. It’s not quite important that a woman is not happy in her marriage, that she does not feel love and affection for the men she lives with, because the most important problems in any society are men’s problems: war, government, etc Once again, also in Anna Karenina as in Tess of D’Urbervilles it can be seen the preoccupation for a society which is dominated by men, is a patriarchal epoch concerned exclusively with men’s situations. The question regarding the women’s position in society was initially formulated in the Victorian England and later this preoccupation could be also found among the Russian elite after the translation of Mill’s oeuvre, ‘The subjection of women’ in 1869. The beginning of the nineteenth century did not come with major ideas about women’s condition and life, but it can be seen as a start of reconsidering the role of women in a society governed by men and which needs a change. Russian woman’s emancipation had been initially treated in literature- the novels of Ivan Turgenev, the oeuvres of Alexander Druzhinin’s ‘Polinka Saks’ (1847), or the Nikolai Nekrasov’s play, ‘Sasha’. Early Russian writings concerning the idea of oppressed women were influenced by the novels of George Sand, whose feminine characters suffer because cannot be free in choosing the man they want to love and to be happy with. Anna Karenina is a very beautiful, noble, married woman from St. Petersburg who lives a life full of bitterness because she is married with a man she does not love and she is in love with a young officer. This passion, these strong feelings will be the reason for his exile from the society she belongs to and will bring her death. Even though Tess of D’Urbervilles is not a rich woman, on the contrary, is a very poor girl with a family that will sign her death conviction- she is sent to claim kin and she is not advised that out there is a big world and she has to be very careful because men might want to harm her and to take advantages of her- the both heroines are guided by the same noble feeling and have the genuine belief that a woman can be happy only through love, loving and be loved. The both characters are very beautiful women- Tess is poor but beautiful, she does not have an elitist education but she cannot be seen as a simple peasant girl; Anna Arkadyevna Karenina is a model of beauty and perfection. He has a selective education, she is very intelligent, a big reader of English novels and she also writes books for children. Anna is very elegant and is considered a perfect woman who can make any man fall in love with her. Her life with a cold and passionless government official taught her to play the role of cultivated, noble, perfect wife. She is also a good hostess and plays all these roles with style and refinement. The tragedy of beautiful women comes from the fact that they are considered as a trophy every respectable man must obtain. And if the woman is married then the battle will be more powerful: the competitor will try to conquer someone’s ‘good’ in order to prove to himself that he has the real qualities to win, he is better than the husband and he can really understand the heroine’s needs for love and support. Anna is not a simple aristocratic woman who plays the role of the perfect and happy wife who is still in love with her husband, is only preoccupied with the raise of her children and obeys entirely her husband because he is always right. Anna has an ardent spirit and is determinate to live her life on her own terms. ‘All the girls in the world were divided into two classes: one class included all the girls in the world except her, and they had all the usual human feelings and were very ordinary girls; while the other class ‘ herself alone- had no weaknesses and was superior to all humanity.’ Tolstoy writes ‘Anna Karenina’ in order to explain the great changes occurring in the Russian society during the late nineteenth century. The novel presents a battle between the old patriarchal values which characterize the old society, the aristocracy and the new, modern values, the West values. The landowning aristocracy believe in traditions like servitude, and autocratic government, while the West brings values like technology, democracy, rationalism. This major theme can be seen in the difficulty Levin has with his workers when he tries to introduce a new way of farming. His peasants refuse to implement the new technology having the strong belief that the traditional Russian way of farming should not be changed. ‘Tess of D’Urbervilles’ presents the changes brought in the nineteenth century in the Victorian Age, also the importance of social class in England and in the same time the complication of defining class in the Victorian England. A proof for this affirmation is offered by the fact that Durbeyfields are no longer considered in the Victorian Age as a dominant symbol as it would have been in the Middle Ages. Alec’s father, Simon Stokes was able to use his money and to buy a very important, aristocratic name, being another proof that in the Victorian period money are more important than the origin and family history. In the both novels, ‘Anna Karenina’ and ‘Tess of D’Urbervilles the changes brought in the society are presented by the main heroines. Alexei Karenin, the government official with a weak personality is playing the role of an educated and sophisticated man who is capable to forgive his wife for her infidelity and to offer her the chance at a respectful life despite her adventure with the young officer. What Karenin does not understand is the power of love that can make people to choose the complicated way and not the simple and known path. Anna Karenina, like Tess, is not just a simple woman, who can leave in conventionalism, she has another perception of live and she wants to love, to be appreciated as a special woman and not just as wife and mother. She craves for a life of ardent emotion and noble passions. Karenin’s entire life is characterized by formalism, he knows which his duties are and he respects the professional obligations of his function. Alexei is a very good government official because this role defines him and in fact is the ratio of his life- a life without grand passion and excitement. Anna and Karenin have a marriage of convenience. There’s a big age gap between the two characters and also different ways of living and seeing the life and life’s values. Anna craves for sentimental devotion and sincerity while Alexei is happy with the monotonous work and family life. ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ is the first line of the Tolstoy’s novel and reveals the fact that the novel is concerned with the happiness, is a declaration for the need of happiness. Is it Anna Karenina happy? Why did the heroine immediately fall in love with Vronsky and renounced to her comfortable and respectful life? Why is a mother ready to sacrifice her child for a man? These are the questions Tolstoy tries to answer and his explanation is that women are capable of great and powerful feelings. They can live in misery but a domestic one, not a sentimental failure; they can have a conventional marriage but will always crave for the real love and for fervent feelings and when they will meet the love they will be capable of leaving everything for that noble feeling. Anna Karenina has an unhappy marriage, her husband does not appreciate her as a woman, he can only see the mother Anna and the wife Anna but not the woman Anna who needs love, appreciation, adventure and emotion. Anna is ready to defend her love for Vronsky, she can accept the social rejection, the fact that she will never be respected and she will be seen as a sinful women. But that’s the essence: a woman, who has the courage to love and to openly live with a man that is not her husband, is not captive in a formal arrangement that could have offered her protection and could have been the institutionalization of a lie is what defines a heroine. Tess of D’Urberville is not an unfaithful married woman, she is just an innocent peasant girl who is convinced that two people that are meant to be together will meet and will live a beautiful love story like in the novels she used to read. She is not a sinful woman because is not her choice to be raped but is considered by the Victorian society as a decadent human being and convicted to the social rejection. ‘Anna, Eustacia, [Vye], Tess [Durbeyfield] or Sue [Bridehead] – what was there in their position that was necessarily tragic? Necessarily painful it was, but they were not at war with God, only with Society. Yet they were all cowed by the mere judgement of man upon them and all the while by their own souls they were right. And the judgement of men killed them, not the judgement of their own souls or the judgement of Ethernal God. Lev Tolstoy chose to analyze the “woman question” enclosed in a comparison: He puts in opposition Anna’s search for sense in life with that of Levin, the Tolstoy’s other main character. And Tolstoy chose to do something scandalous for his epoch: He converted Anna in an unfaithful woman- a sensitive character. Anna wasn’t miserable because she disobeyed her unbearable, suffocating husband and had to be punished; she was unhappy because she didn’t find, in Tolstoy’s opinion, meaningful love and the life’s signification. Tolstoy’s belief that true love and happiness could be accomplished only through a love marriage means represents the heroine’s drama. Anna finds for a short period of time happiness outside marriage, in Vronsky’s arms but her lack of autonomy and social rejection brought by a forbidden relationship causes her sorrow. Tolstoy puts in opposition Anna’s story with the story of Levin, an open-minded man who succeeded in his search for meaning in life by choosing a marriage partner he considered his equal rather than his inferior. Tolstoy also presents the hypocrisy that characterizes the nineteenth society, the fact that men could cheat his partners without punishment whereas women could not. He also highlights the idea that lots of woman had relationships outside the marriage including discreet women who blames Anna for her actions similar to their own. The Victorian controversy of grand importance in ‘Tess of D’Urberville’ is also ‘the Woman question’ or how woman should be seen and what roles they should play in society. Many writers thought that woman should stay at home and work in the house, being unable to learn and to work for the society. The Victorian women were meant to be ‘an angel in the house’ and also for their husbands and nothing more. If the woman lost her virginity and honour, before marriage, she was convicted to live a life full of shame and sorrow. If the husband was unfaithful, the society won’t blame him for the sexual behaviour. R.G. Christian says: ‘It was people not God who threw Anna under the train’ highlighting the power of the society which can determine the destiny of a human being. Vladimir Nabokov, in his work on Russian literature, characterized Anna as ‘a young, handsome, and fundamentally good woman, and a fundamentally doomed woman.’ Nabokov also protects her role as a foreigner of the society she lives in: ‘[Anna] is a woman with a full, compact, important moral nature: everything about her character is significant and striking, and this applied as well to her love. She cannot limit herself as another character in the book, Princess Betsy, does, to an undercover affair. Her truthful and passionate nature makes disguise and secrecy impossible.’ Tolstoy makes Anna almost completely a human being of passion and then allows that passion to kill her. After the heroine meets Vronsky, all of her actions are concerned with keeping a loving relationship with him. Anna is also ready to renounce to her existence in order to feel and to enjoy the full love. Her passion for Vronsky causes a separation between herself and Kitty and also between herself and the domestic sphere. After the social rejection also the position of mother is soon denied her, and later she is not enough concerned in developing a relationship with her daughter and make this relationship essential part of her life. Even her outfits limit the character. She wears only black clothing expressing the fact that she is in a profound grief and she seems convicted to die for the fact that she was capable to renounce to her family for living the love story of her life. Tess of D’Urberville is not a rich, aristocratic girl, on the contrary, she is put under immense pressure by her family to improve their economic position and reputation. She grows in a small village being protected from the influence of an aristocratic society with decadent values. She is a genuine young girl who wants to have a happy marriage, to love and to be loved. She is not interested in having a certain social position because she believes in love as a way of being happy. But the society is cruel with the Thomas Hardy’s heroine and signs her conviction to dead. Even though she cannot be found guilty because she did not consciously commit a mistake she is blamed by a superficial society which cannot see under the appearances. Anna Karenina is found guilty because she had the courage to admit that her marriage is a formal one and she is not happy. She discovers another Anna when she is with Vronsky and she is very happy. Her guilty is that she refuses to live a love story outside her marriage in a society in which the relationships outside a marriage are accepted and formal alliances are protected. Tess of D’Urberville was found guilty because her family couldn’t protect and defend herself against a world dominated by men and she had the courage to tell Angel that she was raped and he had a little baby. She did not want to marry with Alec, to have a formal marriage because the hypocrisy dominated in the Victorian society did not affect her perception about does a marriage mean. Vronsky is a good looking character, rich, and also a charming man who is as willing as Anna is to renounce to his social status and professional position for finding the real love. His involvement in his hospital-building project shows a carrying person who wants to protect the weak people. But the Tolstoy’s work also shows a Vronsky with defects and blames. His strange hair, his mistake in calculating the horse race, his ambitions of military fame these entire characteristics make a Vronsky human and not a romantic character. Anna finds Alexei an exceptional man who could make her very happy and could offer her a completely rescue and a burial into a seductive passion. The heroine is very disappointed when she discovers that Vronsky’s passion is limited and he is just another man and not THE man. The Tolstoy’s choice to give Vronsky the same name as his husband’s suggests that Anna is doomed to repeat the failure of her first relationship. ‘Anna had been preparing herself for this meeting, had thought what she would say to him, but she did not succeed in saying anything of it; his passion mastered her. She tried to calm him, to calm herself, but it was too late. His feeling infected her. Her lips trembled so that for a long while she could say nothing.’ Vronsky’s commitment to Anna seems to decrease in later chapters of Tolstoy’s novel but the reader cannot be convinced that this is the true situation because he finds out about this wane of devotion from Anna’s confessions which betrays the fear that the man she loves and for whom she has sacrificed her marriage and her social position, becoming a mistress, is not any more in love with the heroine. The events related to this episode seem to indicate that Vronsky’s love hasn’t faded: he takes Anna to his country home which is luxurious, elegant, he stays with the heroine and refuses to visit his old friends and even mother, he is still fascinated by her beauty and personality. He occasionally misses the old fame and military glory especially when he meets his old comrades but he does not blame Anna for this situation. Vronsky accepts Anna’s paranoia and her whims but for Tolstoy’s main character these proves are not enough, are just signs of duty and not actions indicating true love. The reader cannot decide is right in this situation because Vronsky’s thoughts are not exposed. Angel Clare is Tess’ Vronsky, the man full of passion who can kidnap the heroine’s present and can project a whole new world outside the mediocrity of an irrational and hypocritical society. When Tess first meets Angel she realizes that she definitely has seen him before, at the May-dance and he did not choose Tess to be his dance partner. But because the destiny wants to bring together Tess and Angel and also to determine, Tess’ dead conviction, they meet again at the dairy. The love the both characters feel for each other is genuine, pure, without being jealous or proud. ‘It was then, as has been said, that she impressed him most deeply. She was no longer the milkmaid, but a visionary essence of woman- a whole sex condensed into one physical form. He called her Artemis, Demeter, and other fanciful names half teasingly, which she did not like because she did not understand them. ‘Call me Tess’, she would say askance; and he did. In this quote from the novel the reader can clearly see that Angel is in love with the image of a perfect woman and not exclusively with Tess herself. She is compared with the Greek goddesses and that means that she has to be the ideal of feminine beauty and perfection in order to be loved by Angel. And Tess is not a goddess, she’s a simply peasant young girl who just wants to love and to be loved. In the critical essay ‘Why women are oppressed’ Anna Jonasdottir says: ‘Man is willing to accept woman as an equal, as a man in skirt, as an angel, a devil, a baby-face, a machine, an instrument, a bosom, a womb, a pair of legs, a servant, an encyclopaedia, an ideal or an obscenity; the only thing he won’t accept her as is a human being, a real human being of the real sex.’ Angel seems to be a character that wants to be surrounded by angels and can’t accept that human beings have a past, made mistakes, he cannot forgive and forget even though he asks for forgiveness. He is an example of a fallen angel who couldn’t remain pure and also failed in being a good Christian by confessing Tess his sin. His mistake is also Tess’s mistake but the influence of the Victorian society does not allow him to see clearly and to only after the longue journey he realizes that ‘the beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true story lay, not among things done, but among thinks willed.’ Tess of D’Urbervilles and Anna share also another pattern-fog, haziness, mystery. When Tess of D’Urbervilles is raped, the scene is surrounded by mist and the reader does not exactly knows what to think about this situation: ‘She was silent, and the horse ambled along for a consider- able distance, till a faint luminous fog, which had hung in the hollows all the evening, became general and enveloped them. It seemed to hold the moonlight in suspension, rendering it more pervasive than in clear air. Whether on this account, or from absent-mindedness, or from sleepiness, she did not perceive that they had long ago passed the point at which the lane to Trantridge branched from the highway, and that her conductor had not taken the Trantridge track.’ Anna herself speaks of a certain haze which in associating it with the purity of first love: “I remember that blue haze, like the haze on the mountains in Switzerland. That haze which envelops everything at that blissful time when childhood is just coming to an end and its huge merry circle narrows to a path which one treads gaily yet with dread into life’s corridor” . . . Kitty smiled … “How did she go through it? How I should like to know the whole romance of her life!” she thought, recalling the unromantic exterior of Anna’s husband.’ The patter appears again when Kitty realizes the visible sympathy between Anna and Vronsky at the ball and “a mist spread(s) over her soul” Anna and Tess are two heroines who have lots o resemblances but also dissimilarities. Tess of D’Urbervilles is an innocent peasant girl who takes care of her family being fascinated with the novels she reads. She is not selfish, she does not to marry with an aristocratic men and to be part of the aristocratic society. Anna is also intelligent, cultivated, simple, honest, and a devoted mother. But the relationship with Vronsky changes her completely. Tess’s downfall is caused by her lack of education in what concern such a complicated subject for the society she lives in- sexual relationships and it can be said that her trust in men is determined by reading romantic novels and identifying with their heroines in a specifically sensual and innocent way. Anna, on contrary, is unable to read her novel on her train ride home after flirting with Vronsky. “She was too eager to live herself. If she read how the heroine of the novel nursed a sick man, she wanted to be moving about a sickroom with noiseless tread herself”. When she discovers, it is to make an instinctual moral perception: ‘The hero of the novel had nearly attained his Englishman’s idea of happiness … and Anna was wishing she could go to the estate with him, when she suddenly felt that he must be feeling ashamed and that she was ashamed for the same reason.’ Anna Karenina and Tess D’Urbervilles are honorable women. Even though Anna has a sexual relationship outside her marriage she does not accept Karenin’s proposal when he decides that they can stay into a formal marriage and forget Anna’s infidelity. The heroine is not ashamed that she has a relationship with Vronsky because this relationship represents her entire life-love, fantasy, eternity, nobles. ‘Alexey Alexandrovitch! What is it you want of me”?I want you not to meet that man here, and to conduct yourself so that neither the world nor the servants can reproach you…not to see him. That’s not much, I think. And in return you will enjoy all the privileges of a faithful wife without fulfilling her duties. That’s all I have to say to you. Now it’s time for me to go. I’m not dining at home.’ He got up and moved towards the door. Anna got up too. Bowing in silence, he let her pass before him.’ Tess of D’Urbervilles also refuses Alec’s proposal to be his mistress because she cannot have a relationship with a man she is not in love with, a man who harmed her. ‘Very well,’ he said, laughing; ‘I am sorry to wound you. I did wrong’I admit it.’ He dropped into some little bitterness as he continued: ‘Only you needn’t be so everlastingly flinging it in my face. I am ready to pay to the uttermost farthing. You know you need not work in the fields or the dairies again. You know you may clothe yourself with the best, instead of in the bald plain way you have lately affected, as if you couldn’t get a ribbon more than you earn.’ ‘I have said I will not take anything more from you, and I will not’I cannot! I SHOULD be your creature to go on doing that, and I won’t.’
Bibliography Chapter four
1. Hardy, T., ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell, with a new introduction by Penny Boumelha, Oxford University Press, New York, 1983.
2. Jonasdotti, A., ‘Why women are oppressed’, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1994
3. Lotman, Iuri, ‘The structure of the artistic text’, translation by Ronald Vroon, University of Michigan, 1977
4. Mandelker, A., ‘Framing Anna Karenina: Tolstoy, The woman question, and the Victorian novel’, The theory and interpretation of narrative series, Ohio State University Press, 1993
5. Nabocov, V. ‘Lectures on Russian Literature, Harcourt, 1981.
6. R.G. Christian, ‘Tolstoy: An Introduction’, Cambridge 1969
7. Tolstoy, L. ‘Anna Karenina’, translated by Louise Shanks & Aylmer Maude, Vintage Classics, London, 2010.
In the Victorian age, women were seen through men’s eyes. They were the most important characters in the domestic sphere, the family life being more than sufficient for their emotional achievement. The home was seen as a paradise, a refuge from the chaotic world of business and politics, a place similar with the haven, in which men found love from their wives and children. The Victorian women were seen as being pure and perfect. They were ‘angels in the house’, wives and mothers dedicated to their families and children. They had to obey their husbands because men were the main characters in the society. The marriage was a light form of slavery: after the wedding everything a woman inherited and had unquestionably belonged to the husband.
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