Tess of The D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Gender Expectations in The Victorian Era
Literature is a reflection of society and writers test and investigate the beliefs of their time, highlighting their flaws in society. In Tess of the D’Urbervilles, published in 1891, Thomas Hardy challenges the superiority of men, present in the Victorian Era. Hardy presents the protagonist as weak and shows how her low social status and lack of voice allows dominant men such as Alec and Angel to manipulate and control her. The expectations from women in society is highlighted through the tragedies and battles Tess endures. Hardy’s narrative perspective shows his deep sympathy for victimized women in society, particularly those from a lower social class. Hardy’s purpose is to demonstrate to the audience the struggles of women during the Victorian era.
Hardy criticizes male dominance in the novel and emphasizes on sexual hypocrisy to challenge the argumentative views of society. Alec, a wealthy manipulative man uses his gender and social class to lure innocent Tess into loving him. In the “Maiden” phase, Alec, an affluent man forcefully feeds Tess to eat a strawberry. The vulnerability of Tess is depicted when “he insisted; and in a slight distress she parted her lips and took it in”. The foreshadowing of Tess’s inability to say “no” establishes her powerless position and demonstrates that she is easily dominated by men. This gives Alec a sense of superiority over Tess and shows his sovereignty. The strawberry symbolizes fertility and passion which hints at the future assault. The redness of the strawberry comes as a motif, enhancing the mood of danger and evil, highlighting on Tess’s fate at the end of the novel. Hardy incorporates a range of techniques to hint Tess’s foreseeable future and to set the tone of danger and vulnerability early on in the novel. This creates tension early and adds anticipation for the reader. The way that Alec’s male dominance controls Tess, highlights the lack of voice within Tess and shows the vulnerability of Women during the Victorian Era.
The lack of power from the lower class proves how certain decisions are unwantedly made in order to change or control their lives. Tess comes from a low class family where financial restraints restrict her from living a free independent life. In the “Maiden no more” faze, Tess’s mother is so frustrated at Tess for refusing to Marry Alec that she is “ready to burst into tears of vexation.” Her desperation of power and class is demonstrated when she is venting to Tess “why didn’t ye think of doing some good for your family instead of thinking only of yourself?” The rhetorical question asked by Tess’s mother is aimed to make Tess feel guilty. It’s a way of manipulating Tess to marry Alec with the use of persuasion. It shows how Tess’s mum will go through all lengths for the purpose of wealth and social class. Tess did not despise Alec “but he was dust and ashes to her, and even for her name’s sake she scarcely wished to marry him.” The metaphorical way Hardy describes Alec as “dust and ashes” dictates great disappointment. It shows the hatred and complete disgust she has for Alec. Although she dislikes him, she considers marrying him for the sake of her family. This demonstrates how the lack of power and wealth will drive individuals to any length.
Gender expectations for women were distinctively different compared to men in the Victorian Era. When Tess becomes pregnant without marring Alec, she automatically becomes judged by society. In faze the fifth “the women pays”, Tess is being shamed for being pregnant without marriage. Tess’s desperation for love is show when “I thought, Angel, that you loved me-me, my very self! If it is I you do love, O how can it be that you look and speak so? It frightens me!” this shows how quickly Angels opinion is changed of Tess once she breaches societies “rules”. It shows how once women go against their gender expectations, they are automatically shamed by society. When angel says “the women I have been loving is not you, but a woman in your shape” it metaphorically degrades Tess and makes a comparison showing what Angel thought Tess was compared to what she is. The expectations of society have changed the way Angel sees Tess and have made her seem impure for becoming pregnant before marriage. The expectations of society were so rigid, that, anyone who breached societies rules was automatically shamed and looked down on.
To conclude, Hardy’s purpose in the novel was to criticize the flaws of the Victorian Era through the life of an innocent young women. The Victorian Era was a rigid time where everything had strict rules. Tess’s life was an ongoing battle of tragedy after tragedy to demonstrate the flaws of society.
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 authors, Thomas Hardy in ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ (TOTD) and Elizabeth Gaskell in ‘North and South’ (NAS) convey their female protagonists as independent women who brim with confidence and reject the expectations of Victorian womanhood. Interestingly, in TOTD, Hardy does not convey Tess as a saintly paragon nor in NAS does Gaskell include experiences of serendipity in Margaret’s life but both authors allow their female protagonists to be as realistic and relatable. Through this Tess Durbeyfield and Margaret Hale...
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is about the titular character, Tess Durbeyfield, who goes on a journey to reclaim her family’s wealthy name. On this journey, she encounters a relative, Alec, who takes away her innocence, causing her to live with a secret that eventually causes her downfall. In closely examining this passage, it highlights the significance of death, justice, God, and the continuity of life. The first two sentences about the black flag signify death and freedom...
Throughout the novels, ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and ‘Never Let Me Go’ the theme of destiny is prominent, although they are of contrasting genres. Hardy has written a pastoral novel which recounts the life of Tess in the countryside of the 19th century, where we see the writer is concerned with the changes of rural life, although unlike a straightforward pastoral, there doesn’t appear to be an idyllic lifestyle for the young woman. It is also conspicuous that the genre...
If one word could come close to characterizing the entirety of the Victorian Era that would most certainly be change. In all aspects and domains, from industrialization to scientific discoveries, the period stands for development and rebirth. But greatness cannot be achieved completely and the proof stands in the inequality that the development brought with itself .This change has also made an impact on the authors of the age for which the literature that they were offering to the audience...
While many people claim that Hardy’s portrayal of female characters is considered as biased, but what I believe is that Hardy has only portrayed women so weak and vulnerable because of the societal pressures they have been faced with. A Society is an environment created to cater to the rational basic needs and rights of its inhabiting individuals. However, a closed and oppressive society has been noticed to view the MALE as a superior gender. Both men and women readily...
Introduction Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Adam Bede, both novels were written when Queen Victoria ruled the England from 1837 until her death in 1901. It is known as Victorian Age, an Age of great change. It was a time when development in science was observed as Queen Victoria was interested in the welfare of people, she worked hard to pass meaningful reforms. Her assets were her prime ministers; with them she decreased the powers of the monarchy. During Victorian...
Introduction Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of Thomas Hardy’s best novels – perhaps it is his very best. The beautiful simplicity of his style when, as usual, he forgets he is writing, the permeating healthy sweetness of his description, the idyllic charm and yet the reality of his figures, his apple-sweet women, his old men, rich character as old oaks, his love-making, his fields, his sympathetic atmosphere – all these, and any other of Hardy’s best qualities we can...
INTRODUCTION Drama involves performance and it has been used as a tool in the line of education, it involves self-expression and way of learning. This aspect of drama involves the students socially, emotionally and physically to relate well with others and the issues that affect them in their day to day lives. The activities involved in the drama such as improvisation, enactment or even pantomime engages the participant’s creativity and improves their critical thinking skills. Drama is a very powerful...
01 / 09
Fair Use Policy
EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via email@example.com.
We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.