Monday, 18 May 2015

Book Review : Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Author         : Thomas Hardy
Genres         : Classic, Tragedy, Fiction
Publisher      : Trans Atlantic Press
Date Published : This edition : 2012
Pages          : 509
Edition        : Paperback
Rating         : ♥♥♥♥♥


This book is about a girl named Tess who is from a very poor family. She is the oldest child of John and Joan Durbeyfield. His father is stunned to know that he is the descendent of the noble family, the d'Urbervilles. Meanwhile, Tess joins the other village girls in the May Day dance. She meets Angel Clare, the youngest child of Reverend James Clare. Alex is on a walking tour with his two brothers. Tess agrees to visiting Mrs d'Urbeville. She is unaware that, in reality Mrs d'Urbeville's husband Simon Stoke, adopted the surname. She doesn't succeed in meeting Mrs d'Urbeville but chances to meet her son Alec.  Alec takes advantage to her in the woods one night, after a fair. Tess gets pregnant, returns home and gives birth to Alec's child, whom she christens Sorrow. Sorrow dies soon after he is born. She meets Angel Clare once again. They fall in love and Tess accepts his mmarriage proposal. She feels guilty about her dark past. Tess writes a confessional note and slips it under his door but it slides under the carpet and Angel never sees it.

After their wedding, Tess and Angel both confess about their past. Tess tells Angel about her history and Angel tells her about his affair he had with older women in London. Tess forgives Angel but Angel cannot forgives her. He gives her some money, goes to Brazil and asks her to not to try to join him and wait until he comes back to her. HA HA HA. Tess encounters Alec who has been converted to Christianity. He begs Tess to marry him. Tess mother is near death, and she is forced to return home to take care of her. Her mother recovers but her father unexpectedly dies soon after. Alec offers help but Tess refuses to accept.

At last, Angel decides to forgive Tess. He finds Tess in an expensive boardinghouse called The Herons. He tells her he has forgives her and begs her to accept him back. Tess tells him, he has come to late, she went back to Alec. Angel is so heartbroken. Tess goes upstairs and stabs Alec to death. She has already fled to find Angel when the landlady finds Alec's body. Angel agrees to help Tess. They hide out in a haunted mansion for a few days and travel farther. When they come to Stonehenge, Tess goes to sleep. In the morning, a search party discovers them. Tess is arrested. Angel and Liza-Lu watch as the black flag is raised over the prison, signaling Tess's execution.


Hardy is one of my favourites, along with D.H Lawrence. He wrote true and deep. I love how this book presents Complex pictures of the importance of social class in nineteenth century England. This is definitely one of the saddest books i have ever read. I have read this book so many times, and it still makes me cry. I have watched the movie as well! Hardy makes me wonder what exactly happened between Tess and Alec on the night. The book does not seem to present a solid conlusion. I couldn't figure out whether it is a seduction or rape. I assume that Tess is being raped. One of the themes of the book is the way in which men can dominate women. Alec desires Tess phisically and does not particularly care whether he harms her as long as he gets what he wants. Even Angel's love for Tess is pure and gentle as it seems, he dominates her in an unhealthy way. He sees her as used and damaged when she reveals her past to him. He seems to feel justified by abandoning her.

Tess is the main character that I can relate most to. Tess is pure and innocent. She sacrifices her life to prove her purity to her beloved husband, Angel. Angel has been under the influence of social obligations of morality and he can't accept Tess' s past. As a reader, I feel sad for her. She tries her best to prove to Angel that she is pure at heart. I will probably do the same things as what Tess has done If I go through what she went through.

This book was piblished in 1891. If you love Victorian Literature, I highly recommend this book. This is an important piece of work that everyone must read.