Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Thomas Hardy

This book was suggested to my by another Thomas Hardy fan. And it was a good choice. It isn’t my favorite of his, but I definitely liked it immensely.

The story follows a young woman that struggles with her passions for two men. Tess is first seduced by a man that is believed to be her distant relative, Alec d’Urberville. She goes to claim kin with him and restore her poor family to the good name it once had. She later moves on her own and falls in love with a gentleman, Angel Clare, that is learning the trade of being a farmer. They marry but right after the wedding they separate due to the fact that she was with another man before him. Abandoned for almost a year she returns to Alec and lives as his wife. Her husband does return after realizing the mistake of leaving her to fend for herself. Finding her with another man shames him and he is guilty of leaving her. After a dramatic twist Tess runs off with her husband and enjoys a few days of bliss until her life ends tragically.

Tess is a girl that almost got on my nerves. But after reading the whole book I was able to understand her better. She really was the typical female character. She was weak and couldn’t stand up to hard emotional trauma. She was very hard on herself, more than she needed to be. I could almost relate to Tess in her despair of missing Angel. She loved him so devotedly and he would not forgive her. It made me quite angry that he would be so firm in his unforgiveness. I really could have used a little more communication between Tess and her husband. She really couldn’t spit out the details of her previous relationship and it ruined her marriage.

The drama of the story was a little over the top. Granted it was set in a time and place where chastity was of utmost importance, but I do believe that the morals and beliefs of the characters were to harsh or laid back at times. The characters changed their minds constantly as to their beliefs and standards. It wasn’t very consistent. It drew out the complexities of the human spirit.

I did get angry several times at the characters. Tess mostly. I had to set down the book several times to clear my head. It was about three fourths of the way through the book before I really started getting into it and enjoying the story. By the time I did start to enjoy it, it was nearly over. The ending was sad, but expected.

Overall this is a very good book to read. I felt good after finishing it. It’s probably my second favorite Thomas Hardy book. I’m still a fan even though these stories are tragic.

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