Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Part Two

Masterpiece Theatre on PBS concluded this series on Sunday night.

Once again I will say, it was tough to watch. Those that haven't read the book take heart, it's not as bad on the page. Still a hard pill to swallow emotionally, but somehow Hardy's words makes it a little easier to take.

A little more background was offered about when the book the published in the 1800's. The character of Tess apparently caused quite a stir in social circles. People engaged in great debate as to whether Tess made the right decisions in regards to her life. Even so much as making sure who one sat by at dinner parties was of the same degree of allegiance for her as you were yourself.

Personally, I believe Hardy had one general theme and point of the novel. He wanted to show how society at the time treated sin unequally between men and women, and how grossly unfair it was. An example of this would be the wedding night of Tess and Angel. He tells her his secret of having had a affair with a woman of low rank, long before they had met. Tess, relieved to hear this, tells Angel of how she'd been taken advantage of by a distant relation, and as a consequence had born his child. A child that had died as a baby.

Tess is all forgiving. Angel is not. And so it was with society.
A man, even still today, can get away with an affair more easily than a woman can. If a man does it, he can't help it. It's in their nature.
If a woman does it, she's often easy or a slut. She asked for it.

And then there was Tess. She seemed to have no control over what happened in her life until the very end, until she finally takes charge and makes a decision that will alter everyone's life forever.
By killing her injurer, does she somehow win I wonder? That's how I've tried to accept how Hardy ended the book. Was Tess finally the victor?
I think yes, in a way, she finally won.
I can live with that.
And thanks Tanja for your insight on this one.

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