Tess of the D’Urberville left me with a mixture of feelings. I hated the way the story progressed but at the same time I was intrigued by the writing style.
I know that life is not skipping down the lane in laughter, jolly good all the time but I hate to see people suffer especially women. What especially unnerved me is that feeling that the author brought forth Tess for a life of suffering. She did go through her trials and maybe in the last chapter or last paragraph or even the last line, she could have triumphed against the tide. Life defeated Tess even when she had that strong will. Why Thomas Hardy? This is my first read of his stories. Please tell me it is not in his nature to write women as an archetype to born to suffer and men to rule and ravish and demand women forgiveness but refuse to forgive for a similar sin? Such characterisation in ‘Tess of the D’Urberville’ is always towards one extreme – utterly wicked or divine wholesome.
However, at the same time I was moved by quite a few passages because of the writing style. At times I felt I was reading beautiful poetry and I said to myself he must have started the concept as a long poem and decided to make into a novel. Angel Clare can pass as an unmitigated ass but when he whispers to Tess “Three Leahs’ to get to one Rachel,” I paused in reflection. After all Raphael of the bible did have her fair share of toils and voila Thomas Hardy passed it unto Tess. Furthermore, at times the author did use symbolism in the stories. With 3 crowing tunes uttered, I knew a disastrous outcome was near, similarly to Peter and the cock crowing and his denial of Jesus.
I read this novel for my personal challenge of BBC Top 100. Tess D’Urberville is # 26 on the list.