Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Short Sample Answers
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Hardy rarely questions public morality openly in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Nevertheless, the novel has been taken as a powerful critique of the social principles that were dominant in Tess’s time. How does Hardy achieve this effect? Why might we infer a level of social criticism beneath Tess’s story? 6
Discuss the character of Tess. To what extent is she a helpless victim? When is she strong and when is she weak?
Tess is a young woman who tends to find herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is a victim, but she is also, at times, irresponsible. She falls asleep while taking the beehives to market, which ends up killing the family horse, Prince. She decides to visit the d’Urbervilles in Trantridge, giving rise to all her future woes, partly out of the guilt and responsibility she feels toward her family. She wants to make good, but in trying to help her family she loses sight of her own safety and her own wants and wishes. She becomes Alec’s victim in the forest. She probably should have known not to put herself in such a situation, but she has few other options. Here, it seems as though she is destined to rely on others, even when they are unreliable.
But Tess is also...