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Free Essay on Tess of the D'Ubervilles



One of Thomas Hardy's greatest novels, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, was published in 1891. The novel was set during this 19th century in Wessex, Britain. Tess of the D'Urbervilles reflected the Victorian Age in Britian during the 1800's, as it revovled around one character, Tess Derbeyfield. Tess came into the world, not knowing where and when evil lurked because she grew up in a house of innocence. The world of Alec D'Urberville circulated around evil. When the innocece of Tess and the evilness of Alec collided, harm was done. Alec's forcefull appearance through the lack of morality are described by Tess as, "a singular force in the gentleman's face, and in his bold rolling eye," overshadows his wealth from the point when they first met(79). Angel Clare was another character in Tess's life which harmed her, but in a different manner than Alec. Angel's intentions and morality overshadowed his actions. Angel Clare's actions and attitude toward Tess had less severe effects on her because his intentions were good unlike Alec d'Urbervilles.
Angel and Alec have very different attitudes toward Tess. Angel first loved Tess for her innocece: "What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that milkmaid is (176)." After he came from Brazil, Angel realized that "The beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay, not among things done, but among things willed (421)." Angel loved Tess for her intentions in the forest not her actions. The beautiness of Tess does not diminish because of the rape because she did not "aim" for that to happen. Angel's attitutude toward Tess in not of sexual nature and does not want to take advantage of her. While Angel took Retty, Izz, Marian, and Tess over the pool of water, he had a chance to kiss Tess but "It reminded Angel that he was somewhat unfairly taking advantage of a accidental position; and he went no further with it (203)." On the other hand, Alec attitude is purely in a sexual nature.
From the first time Tess and lec met, he took advantage of her. The first incident showing the a sexual attitude toward Tess is when Alec froce the strawberry into Tess mouth: "...and in slight distress she parted her lips and took it [strawberry) in (81)." Alec's sexual attraction toward Tess continued in the carriage and purposely went fast and she had to "clutch d'Urberville's rein-arm (95)." This affection towrd Tess was not enough for him and told Tess to "Hold on around my waist (95)," " or we shall be thrown out (95)." Alec's attraction became so strong that he had to rape Tess because she did not love him: "It was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue....there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive (119)." Alec's intentions for the rape where all planned and he purposely got the carriage lost in the woods.
Angels intentions toward Tess are completely different than Alec's. Angel does not want to harm Tess. For example, "Angel's original intention had not been emigration to Brazil...[and] had come to this place for desperation (421)." Angel wants Tess to love him; if she does not love him, he does not want to be with her. For example, when Angel came back from Brazil and "found that Tess was gone," when he tried to apologize to her, he "found himself in the street (467)." Angel did not keep going after her and try to change for Tess to love him like Alec did.
Alec's intentions toward Tess was completely bad. He does not care if Tess loves him, he just wants her and does everything in his power to accomplish this goal. Alec tried to change himself to get Tess to like him and get close to her. For example, he became a preacher and when he found out that she was already married, he renounced his preaching for Tess to succoumb to him. Alec used Tess's family to get close to her. When Tess came home to take care of her parents because they were sick, she began to garden. Alec used this oppurtunity to take advantage of her. Not only did Alec try to make Tess love him, he tries to make Tess leave Angel and said that she should "leave that mule you call husband for ever (411)." Alec even tried to threaten Tess by telling her that "I [Alec] was your master once! I will be your master again. If you are any man's wife you are mine (412)." Alec was so persistant that Tess did succoumb to him by telling her that Angel will never come back to her. The different intentions that they had toward Tess contribute to their actions upon Tess.
Angel is a very complex person. His actions are well thought out and he is a logical person. For example, he went into the farming business instead of going to college and becoming a priest. This follows a logical pattern: "...there lay hidden a hard logical deposit.... It had blocked his acceptance of the church; it blocked his acceptance of Tess (311)." He follows his heart and he has a good heart but sometimes his logic is wrong. His decision to go to Brazil was wrong and furthermore his asking Izz to come with him made it even worse. He finally realized what he has done when he spoke to an Englishman which enlightened to go back to Tess. Angel cares what people think of him and that is partially the reason for going to Brazil. He does not want people to think that he did not maarry a virgin. Alec is exacly the opposite of Angel. He uses his head more than his heart. He thinks things through. Alec's actions toward Tess are all intentional and when he sees the opportunity of taking advantage of Tess, he takes action. Alec never uses judgment when he thinks; he just cares about himself and if his actions would derive pleasure for himself. Alec makes all of these wrong decisions partly because he doesn't care what people think of him.
Angel and Alec affected Tess in different ways. Angel disturbed her emotionlly when he left to go to Britain and did not respond to his letters. He did not mean to harm Tess intentionally because he loved her for herself. Alec hurt her physically and emotionally. He hurt her physically by raping her and hurt her emotionally the same way. He meant to hurt her because all he cares about is that he gets pleasure. Alec did not love her for herself, he loved her sexually for her body. All of the harm Alec committs on Tess is intentional unlike Angels harm, which was accidental.
Angel Clares intentions toward Tess where good unlike Alec d'Urberville's intentions toward her. As a result, Tess was less affected by Angel action's than Alec's actions toward her. Angel's love toward Tess is true unlike Alec's love toward her. This is because Alec tried to change himself and his beliefs for Tess to succoumb to him unlike Angel, which did not change himself or his belief throughout the novel. Therefore, overall, Angel Clare's actions and attitude toward Tess had less severe effects on her because his intentions were good unlike Alec d'Urbervilles.


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