Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A pure woman pulled down to ruin by family and love

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The subtitle of Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ is “A
Pure Woman.”By choosing this title, the author suggests that the ideas
society has about purity are fundamentally misguided.Society says that
Tess is not pure because she is not a virgin.However, Hardy suggests that
Tess is the only pure and good human being in any of the societies in which
Atfirst, Tess only wishes to help her family’s fortune, doing her
father’s bidding against her better instincts, by going to work for Alex
d’Urbervilles.However, at the end of her tenure with him she is “a maid
no more” in Hardy’s words, after experiencing sexuality with this
supposedly distant relation.The danger of a lower class womancatching’
a lower class man was a commonly expressed fear in literature of the
period. (Armstrong 241) Even in Hardy’s own later work, Jude the Obscure,
the protagonist is trapped in hisfirst marriage with an unsuitable woman
who desires social standing and fortune, as a result of her alliance with
Hardy is quite cagey about whether what transpires between Alex and
Tess is a rape or not.Tess tells Alex that the “sin” was more his than
hers.But although this opacity may be frustrating to a modern reader, her
reaction suggests that it does not matter in society’s eyes whether she was
raped or yielded willingly.In the view of society, all that matters is
What is even more devastating, however, is the fact that not only
does it not matter in the eyes of gossiping women.It also matters,
whether Tess is a virgin or not in the eyes of Angel Clare, the man she
comes to trust and love later in the novel.What is so hypocritical about
the way that Tess is regarded as a sexual being, too, is that Angel himself
admits that he too, in his past, has sinned.However, although Tess
forgives him for his transgression, he cannot