Tess Durbeyfield is a victim of external and uncomprehended forces.
Passive and yielding, unsuspicious and fundamentally pure, she suffers a
idealism, who fights the hardest fight yet is destroyed by her ravaging
main source of livelihood, that commences the web of circumstance that
downfall, however she also believes that she is parallel to a murderess.
ridden Tess is as she places her hand upon Prince?s wound in a futile
is equivalent to a photographic proof – a lead-up to the events that will
shape Tess?s life and the inevitable ?evil? that also, like the crimson
blood that spouts from Prince?s wound, cannot be stopped. The symbolic
fact that Tess perceives herself to be comparable to a murderess is an
reference to the level of guilt that now consumes her. ?Nobody blamed Tess
as she blamed herself… she regarded herself in the light of a
wealth and coupled with the unfortunate circumstance of Prince?s death
urge Tess to venture from the ?engirdled and secluded region? of Marlott
to seek financial assistance from the D?urberville?s in nearby Trantridge
. It is here that she first encounters the sexually dominating and
somewhat demonic Alec D?urberville, whom she is later to fall victim to.
indicate that his first impression of Tess is only one of sexual
magnetism. Alec then proceeds to charm Tess by pushing strawberries into
her mouth and pressing roses into her bosom. These fruits of love are an
indication of Alec?s lust and sexual desire for Tess as he preys upon her
purity and rural innocence. Tess unwillingly becomes a victim to Alec?s
inhumane,violent and aggressive sexual advances as Alec, always the master
of opportunities, takes advantage of her whilst alone in the woods and
Alec seizes upon her vulnerability.
After this sexual violation and corruption of innocence, Tess flees home
and although she has escaped the trap of the sexually rapacious Alec for
her blood of innocence has been released. At this time Hardy gives
tempting Eve. Tess is undoubtedly a victim and her lack of understanding
over such matters only increases the guilt that already embodies her. To
?THY, DAMNATION, SLUMBERETH, NOT? and is horrified to think how relevant
it is to her recent misfortunes. Tess at this stage is a victim to her own
self – conscience and she becomes a recluse trapped within her home – away
from the society that has unjustfully condemned her whilst in reality she
has broken no law of nature.
of Tess?s own situation as she is being separated little by little from
his name being an indication of the anguish that has taken place within
is to follow through the events of her own sorrowful life.
In an attempt to start her life anew, Tess decides to move away from the
Although filled with natural optimism, Tess?s past has already begun to
weave the fatalistic web that will trap her like a fly and from which the
Talbothay?s Dairy is the phase of Tess?s life in which she experiences her
mental hesitations as to her purity and righteousness. Here we can see in
what is supposedly morally correct.
?Like a fascinated bird? Tess is drawn into the wild and overgrown garden
stealthily as a cat through this profusion of growth. Hardy has likened
follow. Tess is trapped once again – although on this occasion she is
bound to Angel by ideological fetters . Tess is transformed in Angel?s
sight ?… a visionary essence of woman – a whole sex condensed into one
replaced by a spiritual, idealised one with Angel. She has now become a
victim of Angel?s idealisation as her individuality is becoming further
suppressed by his imaginative and ethereal reasonings. As the spring
succumbs to Angel?s charms.
placed beneath his door. In a cruel twist of fate , the letter slides
beneath the mat and there it remains – unread. Tess and Angel?s marriage
is marred by ill – omen. Hardy gives reference to the gnats that know
nothing of their brief glorification – as Tess herself cannot fathom the
potent fatalism that will cause her such sorrow. Hardy?s continual use of
ill -omen gives the impression of the extent of Tess?s victimisation to
death of their relationship.
On their honeymoon, traditionally a joyous occasion, Tess confides in
Angel the nature of her past. Prior to this confession, Tess is horrified
quality within Tess – an arrogance and ferocity which is the truth linked
to her past. On hearing of Tess?s unfortunate past, Angel withdraws from
reality by refusing to admit that she is the woman that he loved. ?You
Angel?s departure to Brazil leaves Tess almost as a widow . Angel ?s
at this point in the novel that she begins to understand that her beauty
is part of the cause of her destruction. In answer to this she dons her
oldest field gown, covers half her face with a handkerchief, and snips off
her eyebrows to ?keep off these casual lovers?. Tess has realised that
part of the victimisation she has undergone is because of her beauty,
although this realisation has come too late to save her from Alec?s
lustful actions and Angel?s idealised ones. Tess seeks shelter one night
beneath some bushes to hide from a lustful man and awakens to find
pheasants left half – dead by a shooting party. All of these birds are
writhing in agony apart from those which have been unable to bear any more
and have died through the night. Tess reprimands herself for feeling
self-pity; ?I be not mangled, and I be not bleeding? – and although she is
not physically marred by the events that have so irrevocably altered her
life , emotionally and spiritually she is exhausted.
made with good and pure intentions but have resulted in damaging
consequences.Tess is undoubtedly a victim as misery punctuates her life.
She is a victim of circumstance in that her individuality makes little
difference to her fate, she is a victim of society in the sense that she
is a scapegoat of narrow – mindedness and she is a victim of male ideology
on the grounds that her powers of will and reason are undermined by her
sensuality. Tess herself sums up her own blighted life best; ?Once a
victim, always a victim – that?s the law!?