I once heard that Thomas Hardy is a genius in creating tragedy, and now I know why! After reading two novels by Hardy, I am amazed by how one can develop a plot so tragic!
Tess of the d’Urbervilles is not a feel-good book. It lacks any happiness and warm fuzzies that would make you want to reread this book while curled up on the couch with a cup of coffee on a cold rainy day. Tess is not like Jane Eyre or Lizzie Bennett.
The book is sad and depressing to the point where it almost makes me angry. Because poor Tess is prone to making bad choices and has majorly pissed off people who have money and power, and now want to make her life hell.
But what I appreciated the most is that Hardy had the perseverance to write a non-feel-good story of bad things happening to good people. He has pointed out why it is wrong when a rapist offering to marry his victim is considered a solution to the ‘situation’. Why is it necessary that he must be her ‘real’ husband because he was the first to claim her vagina with his penis, regardless of whether she wanted him then or wants him now.
This novel points to the morals and attitudes that made women inferior and subservient to men. Even today, we see that society does not want to accept a ‘damaged’ woman because of someone else’s action – actually, when, regardless of the action, her worth is based on the intactness of her hymen.