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Tess Essay

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Tess Durbeyfield is a victim of both external and internal forces. Passive and yielding, unsuspicious and fundamentally pure, she suffers a weakness of will and reason, struggling against a fate that is too strong for her to overcome. Tess falls victim to circumstance, society, and male idealism. Tess may be unable to overcome these apparent difficulties is destroyed by her ravaging self-destructive sense of guilt, life denial and the cruelty of two men.
It is primarily the death of the horse, Prince, the Durbeyfield’s main source of livelihood that commences the web of circumstance that envelops Tess. The imagery at this point in the novel shows how distraught and guilt ridden Tess is as she places her hand upon Prince’s wound in a
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After this sexual violation and corruption of innocence, Tess flees home. Although she has escaped the trap of the sexually rapacious Alec for the time being, her circumstance is similar to that of a wounded animal, her blood of innocence has been released. At this time Hardy gives reference to Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece, “where the serpent hisses the sweet birds song”. Tess is undoubtedly a victim of male idealism and society. Her lack of understanding over such matters only increases the guilt that already embodies her. To add further to her shame she chances upon a holy man who paints exerts from the bible around the countryside. In red accusatory letters she reads “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; she becomes a recluse trapped within her home, while in reality she has broken no law of nature.
Returning to work in the field, Tess witnesses the rabbits forced further into shelter as the cornrows in which they dwell are reaped. This is symbolic of Tess’s own situation as she is being separated little by little from family and friends and more importantly from her own childhood innocence. The baby she has baptized as Sorrow dies, his name being an indication of the anguish that has taken place within Tess due to the circumstances of his conception. It also epitomizes what is going to take place in the rest of her sorrowful life.
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