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.
What situation led Tess to murder Alec in the novel ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’?
In the novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” (1891) by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Tess’s murder of Alec D’Urberville follows a harrowing series of events and the peak of her emotional and psychological turmoil. Tess Durbeyfield, a beautiful and innocent girl from a low-income family, is sent to work at the d’Urberville estate by her parents to find kinship with the noble d’Urberville clan.
Alec Shatters Tess’s Life by Raping Her: During her working period at the estate, the manipulative and lustful man, Alec, becomes infatuated with her. Despite Tess’s unwillingness, he constantly forces her to accept his proposal. Alec finds Tess in a deep forest one fateful night, where he forcefully seduces and rapes her. This deleterious experience makes Tess shattered emotionally and physically.
Tess Gives Birth to Sorrow: Through the story’s development, Tess becomes pregnant due to Alec’s sexual harassment. Fearing disgrace and societal judgment, she returns to her family and gives birth to a son named Sorrow, who tragically dies shortly after birth. The loss of her child overburdens Tess’s conscience, and she feels overwhelmed by guilt and despair.
Failure in Love with Angel Clare: Gradually, Tess’s life faces another turn when she falls in love with Angel Claire, a kind-hearted man. They get married after a series of ambivalent circumstances. However, when she exposes her past to Angel, he misunderstands her, which causes Tess’s heartbreak. Angel Clare mentions the following line to Tess:
“How can we live together while that man lives?…”
He leaves Tess on the wedding night.
Alec Resurfaces Tess and She Stabs Him: Tess’s father dies, and she has lost her house. Circumstance, Alec learns this and tries to manipulate Tess again. Having no way, she agrees to be his mistress. Later, Angel returns to her life and wants to take her back. Alec humiliates both Angel and Tess. In a confrontation with Alec, she resorts to violence and fatally strikes him with a knife.
In “Tess of the d’Urbervilles,” Tess’s murder of Alec is a tragic outcome of a series of traumatic events, including sexual assault, social judgment, heartbreak, and despair. The character of Tess is portrayed with depth and complexity, making her a poignant figure torn between her innate goodness and the devastating circumstances that lead to this horrific violence.