The Power of Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles Essay

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The Power of Tess of the d'Urbervilles

"If an offence come out of the truth, better it is that the offence come than the truth be concealed." Thomas Hardy added these words in the introduction to the fifth edition of this novel (Hardy v). He provided this quote from St. Jerome somewhat defensively, in response to the criticism he received for Tess prior to this edition.

Originally printed in serial form in two magazines, this novel underwent bowdlerization in order to be published. As a requirement of the publisher, Hardy changed scenes such as the baby's baptism, Tess's rape, and Alec's murder. The process of changing the novel angered Hardy, but his financial need of publishing the novel outweighed his negative
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He is then showing us what it means to live in a particular time in a particular kind of society" (85).

Tess feels an immense amount of responsibility for her poor family. Although an endearing quality, this feeling of hers presents a great handicap also. Hardy characterizes the head of the family, Tess's father, as a "slack-twisted fellow, [having] the good strength to work at times; but the times could not be relied on to coincide with the hours of requirement . . ." (46). Living as peasants offers enough problems, but a man like John Durbeyfield can only hinder Tess's family more. Not only lazy and poor, he drinks a lot, spending his few shillings at the local pub, Rolliver's. An ignorant and superstitious woman, Joan Durbeyfield, Tess's mother, offers no help to Tess either. She makes decisions about her household and family after she consults a magazine, the Compleat Fortune-Teller (Hardy 33). She not only reads and believes this magazine, she thinks its presence in the house overnight will bring bad luck, so it is carried to the outhouse after consultation. Most poor, rural folks believed superstitious things such as this during these times.

Hardy illustrates the hopelessness for the children of the Durbeyfield household to climb out of their social and economic status by calling them "passengers in the Durbeyfield ship-entirely dependent on the

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