Thomas Hardy 's Tess Of The D ' Urbervilles

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In Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Tess Durbeyfield, who is related to the ancient upper-class d’Urberville family, describes herself as “only a peasant by position, not by nature” (239). When Mr. Durbeyfield, Tess’ father, discovers that he comes from the line of the d’Urbervilles, many of Tess’ features and characteristics are explained. However, while Tess’ appearance and qualities cause her to appear as an aristocrat, her upbringing justifies her as a peasant. Tess’ family is financially constrained, her mother holds fatalistic, superstitious folk beliefs, and she is a working woman. However, Tess’ more intrinsic qualities such as her looks, ethical sensitivity, relational intensity, and aptitude in comparison to her fellow countrymen, present her as a “deeper-passioned” (140) woman of a higher class. Therefore, Tess, both socially and culturally, is essentially a combination of both classes, and she does not fully fit in with either class. In the novel, Tess’ character, qualities, and position reveal her as both a d’Urberville, an aristocrat, and a Durbeyfield, a peasant. When the Durbeyfields discover their noble ancestry, many of Tess’ qualities, such as her beauty, sensitivity, and intensity are justified. Tess, unlike the common folk she lives among, is beautiful, appears “more of a woman than she really [is]” (38), and her “young features look(ed) sadly out of place” (23) in Marlott, her hometown. It is made obvious by her dark eyes and elegant features
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