The factors responsible for the tragedy of Tess

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a notable literary work by Thomas Hardy. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Tess of the d'Urbervilles.


Comment on the factors responsible for the tragedy of Tess. Or, What factors are responsible for the tragedy of Tess?

Or, Who is responsible for Tess’ death?

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was a famous novelist in the Victorian era. His tragic novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” (1891) is centered around the sufferings of Tess because of the cruelty of fate. There is not a single thing that is responsible for the death of Tess. The tragedy is caused by internal and external factors, many of which are beyond her control.

Tess’s Responsibility: Tess’s familial liability has a significant role in the death of Tess. After the prince’s death (the family horse, the only source of income), her family has fallen into a financial crisis. To manage a job, she went to Trantridge. Going to the city became the curse on Tess. 

Social Class: Tess is born into a low-income family and faces the societal prejudices and limitations that come with her lower social status. When her father learns about the noble ancestry of the d’Urbervilles, he sends her to work for them, hoping she will find a better life.

Cruel Fate: Unlike the tragic heroine of English literature, Tess is free from tragic flaws. However, fate plays a heinous game with Tess. The death of Tess’s family horse prince is the first game of the supreme powerful fate. After that, her seduction by Alec is another game of fate. It leads Tess to tremendous suffering and frustration. It has created the way of death for Tess. This is clear when she says-

“Whip me, crush me; you need not mind those people under the rick! I shall not cry out. Once victim, always victim, that’s the law.”

Villain Alec: Alec appears as the villain of the novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” In the novel, Alec appears twice in Tess’s life. First, he raped her, and as a result of her seduction, Tess gave birth to a child named Sorrow, who died. In the end, Tess has been the mistress of Alec for twin purposes, one her responsibility and the other killing him. 

“Remember, I was your master once! I will be your master again. If you are any man’s wife, you are mine.”

Angle Clare: Angle Clare appears in Tess’s life to fuel Tess’s sufferings and distress. He is the representation of society’s narrow mentality. Tess forgives Angle’s forty- eight hours of dissipation with a lady, but Angle does not forgive Tess for her past life. He says,

“O Tess, Forgiveness does not apply to thy case.”

By hearing this, Tess is going to have more incredible frustration. 

Angel Clare’s Idealism and Double Standards: Angel’s character is influenced by idealistic notions of purity and virtue, challenging and negotiating Tess’s past with his expectations. Despite his unfitness, he cannot fully forgive Tess for her past, which drives a wedge between them.

Unfortunate Events: Throughout the novel, several unfortunate events and coincidences further complicate Tess’s life. For example, the death of her baby Sorrow, difficulty finding suitable work, and the chance encounter with Alec d’Urberville after he converts to Christianity. Once Tess asks God for pity for her child-

“O merciful, God, have pity; have pity upon my poor baby!”

To sum up, we can conclude that a group of things worked together to create the path of Tess’s death. At the end of the novel, the reader is shocked to see the tragic death of Tess.