Pride In Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D Urbervilles

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Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a tragic Victorian novel focusing on the condemned life of innocent Tess Durbeyfield. Tess plays a major role in the novel as she is not only the main character, but also the moral center of the novel. It is not until Tess reluctantly goes to claim kinship with the D’Urbervilles that she meets the catalyst to her downfall, Alec D’Urberville. Alec takes advantage of Tess which is an incident that continuously haunts her; especially as Tess begins to take steps into a relationship with Angel Clare. Angel learns of the crime committed against Tess and can not reconcile himself to stay with her despite his love for her. For this reason he decides to keep the marriage, but separate from Tess. Alec exploits …show more content…
Tess’s pride does not allow her to ask for help from others because she holds the family together and asking for help makes her feel weak. Her stubborn pride is evident from early on as she refuses to accept her mother’s proposal to ask for help from one of the young men she danced with at the May Day celebrations to make the trip to the market with the beehives. Tess proudly declares that “O no - [she] wouldn’t have it for the world” (Hardy 21) because she does not want them to learn that her father is too drunk to go and that she could not manage it herself . Her stubborn refusal to ask for help results in the death of the family horse, Prince. Tess continues to make decisions influenced by her pride when she refuses help from others and rather take matters in her own hands. When Angel leaves Tess after learning of her past she does not make a scene as “pride, so entered into her submission” (Hardy 225). The narrator notes that if Tess had made a scene Angel would not have been able to resist Tess, but her pride stopped her from making it harder for him because she loves him. Tess never attempts to stand in the way of those she loves, even when she would benefit. Tess’s pride refuses to allow her to ask for help after the departure of Angel. Tess’s “pride had stood in her way” (Hardy 330) from asking for help from her in-laws so she continued to suffer in silence …show more content…
Tess scrutinizes herself against her internal code of conduct and begins to feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for her inadvertently caused actions. The guilt she feels manifests itself into punishment for her actions and she subconsciously begins to seek out punishment. The most prominent scenes of Tess’s guilt and need for punishment come after Angel learns of her past. While Tess’s pride may have prevented her from making a scene, it is her subconscious need for punishment after she ruins her marriage to Angel that makes her submit to his leaving. Her punishment is enduring the wait for Angel to come back to her whilst Alec renews his pursuit of her. When Alec tells Tess to “leave that mule you call husband for ever” (Hardy 295) she slaps him across his mouth with her leather glove with violent thoughts. This action makes Angel’s punishment of her just and it also sanctions Alec’s punishment as she cries to him “Now, punish me” (Hardy 295). It is clear to see that Tess has become somewhat of a masochist as she feels that she is to blame for Angel’s separation from her so her conscience seeks out punishment from others. By becoming Alec’s mistress when Angel’s return seems bleak she is adding onto her guilt to punish herself more. Once Angel returns to Tess to forgive her and beg for her forgiveness she is at a loss. Tess’s masochistic psyche does not have an accuser anymore as

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