Bitterness, Weariness and Impotence in Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles

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Bitterness, Weariness and Impotence in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles

In his novel Tess of the d'Ubervilles, as well as much of his poetry, Thomas Hardy expresses his dissatisfaction, weariness, and an overwhelming sense of injustice at the cruelty of our universal fate - disappointment and disillusionment. Hardy argues that the hopes and desires of Men are cruelly thwarted by a potent combination of "all-powerful Nature, fate, unforeseen accidents and disasters, and tragic flaws" (Mickelson 32). Although Tess, the heroine of the novel, is fully realized with physical, emotional, and mental attributes, grasping desperately to be her own master, she is nevertheless overpowered, becoming a victim of circumstance, nature,
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26). The sigh of this divine, timeless soul reinforces the idea that a sad life is preordained; even less can we carry out our free will.

Nature revolves in seasonal cycles of rebirth and death; therefore the action and moods of Tess flow from hope into despair. Summer, with its heat and abundance, causes a tide of fertilization not only in Nature, but in the farmworkers. Everyone is swept along: "Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Var Vale, at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were impregnated by there surroundings" (p. 146). Likewise, the love between Tess and Angel becomes passionate and sultry. Her morals of staying away from men are thrown by the wayside, illustrating the fact that Nature does not follow any moral or societal law. "Every seesaw of her breath, every wave of her blood, every pulse singing in her ears, was a voice that joined with nature in revolt against her scrupulousness" (p. 175). Tess, try as she might, is swept along in the rush of summer. In the same way, Hardy places a poem of lost love and bitter lesson in the icy "Neutral Tones" of winter. "We stood by a pond that winter day / And the sun was white, as
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