The story begins with a young girl called Tess Durbeyfield who is a daughter of a poor family from a village known as Marlott. At a very tender age of 16, she witnesses a horrible incident in her life which transforms her life into living hell. This tragic tale of Tess projects the sufferings and sacrifices of the girl who is questioned of her chastity, but is genuinely pure.
I could not read this novel at once. It is a tragedy but unlike other tragedies, here the the tragedy begins in the beginning and travels throughout the story. We feel pity for Tess and at the same time furious at the norms of Society.
Tess who is spotless is judged at every step of her life. Tess who gives up her dreams, her love, her husband, herself only for the sake of her unconcerned family is termed to be as selfish.
Thomas Hardy has beautifully pictured Tess through his words. The story accommodates descriptions of the undying beauty of nature which corresponds the prevailing emotions of the characters.
It is a good piece of work but only for those who can digest harsh tragedies. At every point we see Tess paying, for some wrong which she has not done. Gloom prevails throughout the novel. We feel sad because Tess being a pure and righteous woman should not have suffered so much.
The only flaw in her that I could make out was, perhaps, she was too submissive with regards to her wishes. She thought of everyone but herself. Perhaps, it is not really a flaw as she was being too kind. Perhaps she thought more and acted less. But at the same time we see a strong character in her when she outbreaks her anger at the priest, When she writes a powerful letter to her husband, and when she kills her source of affliction and misery towards the end of the story. Thats what she does when her pain and sufferings become unendurable for her.
It was probably just once that she had slept in peace:
Tess of the D’Urbervilles is definitely a great work and one of the best works by Thomas Hardy. But, as I wrote before, only for those who can bear reading excruciating tragedies.