The Role Of Fate In Tess Of The D’urbervilles

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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.


Discuss The Role Of Fate In Tess Of The D’urbervilles.

An important aspect of Thomas Hardy‘s (1840-1928) novel “Tess of the D’urbervilles” (1992) is the role of fate that makes Tess unforgettable and significant. The novel shows the role of fate in Tess’s life as a victim of the so-called grip of fate. Whatever she does in her life to improve her poor condition has no positive result because everything in his life is pre-planned and determined by fate.

Three Phases Of Tess’s Life: Tess’s life may be divided into different stages due to various traumatic situations in her life, but it would be easy to limit Tess’s life to three stages: her life in her parents’ home, separation from her parents and boyfriend, and finally tragic ending of her life.

The First Stage Of The Parental Home: Tess belongs to a low-income family where she is the eldest daughter on whom all the home responsibilities depend. As the family’s eldest daughter, she has to take care of her younger siblings and household chores. On the other hand, her father is a drunkard who does not care for Tess and the family. He does nothing to ignore his poor condition. 

Tess is well aware of her father’s irresponsible behaviour. So, she decided to help her family with the family business. Her decision to help the family reflects her responsible attitude towards improving the family’s socio-economic condition. When Tess learns of her father’s drunken state, she immediately realizes that her father is physically and mentally unable to deliver a load of beehives to the market within a few hours. When Tess and her brother, Abraham, go to the market, their horse, Prince, collides with a local mail cart, and the horse dies in the incident. This is the first episode of her life, which ends with the death of the Prince. The ending of this episode takes Tess’s life to the second episode, which is full of struggles and sorrows.

The Helpless Inception Of The Second Stage: After the death of the horse, Tess has to work at Mrs. D’Urbervilles’ house to support her family financially. Tess accepts this truth, and she says,

“Well, as I killed the horse, mother;…. And don’t go thinking about her making a match for me – it is silly”.

At first, she was reluctant to go to Mrs. D’Urberville’s house, but she had no choice but to save her family. When she arrives at the destination, she first meets Alec, an animal in human form. Alec thinks there is little difference between him and Tess regarding age. At Tess’s first appearance, Alec becomes fascinated by her beautiful and magnetic physique. Tess does not realize she is caught up in Alec’s seductive plan. 

When Tess returns with her friends from the party, Alec meets them on the way home, and he thinks it is the right time to get her involved in his plan. Initially, Tess resists the offer to drop her off at the destination, but in the end, he persuades her to go with him. However, she does not know fate has decided something terrible for her. She is not even in a position to thwart his seductive plan. Alec seduces her in the dark in a secluded place in the darkest forest. She cannot even feel what is happening to her when she is being seduced. Tess explains her bad condition to her mother by saying this;

“How could I be expected to know? I was a child when I left this house for months ago. Why didn’t you warn me?”

Hearing this, her mother, Mrs. Durbeyfield, reacts artificially. From this raping intimacy, Tess becomes pregnant and begets a child named Sorrow, who dies at his birth. So, this is nothing but fate.

The Separation Between Tess And Angel: Something worse awaits her when she decides to leave home in search of a job to support her family financially. At this point, some of the happiest moments in her life are noticed when she meets Angel Clare, who works at a dairy farm. Angel Clare is a handsome man whom almost all women like, but the beauty and modesty of Tess attract him. He falls in love with her at first sight. Some days later, they marry and share their past with each other. Here, Tess accepts Clare’s past, but Clare does not accept Tess’s past. Here again, fate comes back in less time.

Reunion And Tragic Death: When Angel Clare leaves Tess, she begins to believe that her husband will one day return to her and that they will be united forever. After a long time of Angel’s departure, Tess marries Alec and lives a failed married life. Suddenly, a new and annoying turn begins to knock on the door of her life when Angel Clare appears in Tess’s life. Angel Clare and Tess are surprised to see each other because they have no hope of seeing and meeting each other. When Angel discovers that Tess is Alec’s wife, he says nothing and accepts the truth. 

Again, Clare leaves her with Alec to live a married life. After meeting Clare, Tess goes to her bedroom. When she opens the drawer, she is surprised to find the letter in the box she wrote to Clare. Now, she fully understands that Clare did not get the letters she wrote for him. Alec hides all the letters. She believes Alec is responsible for all her troubles and sufferings from beginning to end. Now, she decides to take revenge on Alec and kills him in a rage. After killing Alec, Tess meets Angel Clare and spends memorable moments with him. She tries to make her last meeting with him memorable because she knows she cannot continue her life with him because of Alec’s murder. Eventually, Tess is hanged for killing Alec.

In termination, fate is the most crucial element in Tess’s life. After observing all of Tess’s traumatic and tragic experiences, it is easy to conclude that Tess’s life is controlled and governed by fate since it has been clearly shown and observed that there is not a single moment and event in the novel where fate has no role in her life.