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Comment on Hardy’s Subtitle for Tess of the d’Urbervilles: Analysis of “A Pure Woman”

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In this essay, I want to demonstrate why Thomas Hardy called Tess d’Urbervilles a pure woman in the subtitle of the novel with the same name.To be pure means, in my opinion, to be emotionally clean,to have an honest character, and always choose the right side, no matter if this choice does not make you happy, shortly, to be love. Being a pure person means to stay away from sin as much as possible, because in a way, this is the life of each of us, the evil has always existed and the good as well, but it depends on us what we choose. Tess choose to be pure in her mind, despite her actions which sometimes shows her impurity, her thoughts and intentions were pure.

First of all, the story of Tess d’Urbervilles begins with the desire of her parents for wealth. Her parents decided to send Tess to work at d’Urbervilles house, where if she is lucky she will married with a rich guy and she will never have to worry about money. Tess felt guilty because of an event with familiy’s horse, so she accepted to leave, because in her mind, this is the only thing she can do to bring her father a new horse. Their wish was materialized, but with a hard price. Tess Durbeyfield meets there Alec d’Urberville and he tried a couple of months to seduced her, he succed, but as a result of their love, a child was born. Tess named this baby Sorrow, because he was an unwanted child, he comes form a love that she never felt. Sorrow dies after a short time and Tess decided to go home.

After a perioud, Tess comes back to work, but this time, she goes at a dairy farm in Talbothays. For Tess, this destination means a chance to a new beginning, where no one knew her or her past. Talbothays was a place full of beautiful of nature, that thing helped Tess to return very quickly at a good state of mind. She met Angel Clare there and their story begins with Tess disbelief that a man like Angel might want her as a wife, but he loved her and they got married. Tess was hiding a very painful secret, that of the child she had with Alec, she was thinking that if she told Angel, he would not want her anymore. This is the point where Tess can be considered impure, because she was married with a man, but she have had a child with another one before, this is the reason why she was afraid to confess. In this moment there is a balance between her fear to speak with her husband, Angel, and her courage to confess him her secret, taking the risk of losing the man that she loves more than anything else.

The confession that she finally makes to Angel, makes him to seeing her with completely different eyes, he feels desgusted, he thinks that he will never love her the same because of her imprudence and her immorality.

Even if her actions put her in an immoral and hard to support position, for a woman belonging to the Victorian period, the way in which she defeated her fear and admit that she was wrong because she should have talk to him earlier, make her a pure woman. She could never have talked about this past mistake, as her mother advised her, but she choose the right way. Angel’s decision after Tess confession, was to leave her in honey-moon and goes to Brazil, where he passed through a lot of difficult situations.

Second of all, Tess always acted guided by her own judgment. She felt so guilty that she hurt Angel’s feelings and she decided that it is good for both of them if she would go home for a while. There she met again with Alec d’Urbervilles and he try for the second time to have her. Another reason for her purity is the fact that she could make a profit with that child that she had with Alec, she could ask him for money, but she did not, she prefer to be quiet. Alec tries to convince her that he has changed, but the only thing that she could thinking about was revenge on him, because he was the reason why she will be unhappy for the rest of her life, being sure that Angel will never forgive her and never love her the same.

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The perfect way to escape the past and enjoy the future that she could have with Angel, was for Tess to kill Alec and through him, all their problems would have died.

The act of killing somebody is completely unreligious, impure and out of everything that can be normal, so Tess doesn’t have any excuses for what she have done, but in the same way, all she wanted to do was to save her love.

Furthermore, Tess’s power of love is incredible, because she is ready to do anything to be with the person she loves. Her actions are judged from many perspectives, from the woman statute in Victorian period, which did not accept Tess’s decisions and considered her impure, to the author perspective, that everything she did, was with pure intentions.

Thomas Hardy sees her as a pure woman, from the point of view in which she never want to hurt someone, he understands what she thinks, her feelings and how a countryside, a simple girl can through all of this pains of life.

Actually, she fought for love until her love caught her and killed her. She gave everything for the most beautiful feelings in the world, she wanted to feel it just for a day, but real, without any pain. She died knowing she had done all the things that were possible to save her love and that attitude shows brave and purity.

In conclusion, love is the only feeling that can be considerate pure and honest, Tess d’Urbervilles was pure in everything she was, she did not die like a sinner, she died like a pure woman.


  1. Gideon Faihriem ‘’ ‘Analysis of ‘A Pure Woman’ – ‘The subtitle of Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ ‘’ Cotton College,Guwahati, Department of English, Graduate Student, 03.01.2019, < >

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