15. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy.
History: First published in 1891, it initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by a British illustrated newspaper.
Plot: Tess goes to live at the D’urberville mansion after her father is convinced he is the relation to this wealthy family. In reality, he isn’t. And while she is there she is raped the son, Alec, land gets pregnant. She goes home to have the baby, who soon dies after birth. She spends a year at home before taking a job at a dairy. She meets Angel, and they fall in love. she eventually accepts his proposal of marriage. Still, she is troubled by pangs of conscience and feels she should tell Angel about her past. She writes him a confessional note and slips it under his door, but it slides under the carpet and Angel never sees it. After their wedding, Angel and Tess both confess indiscretions: Angel tells Tess about an affair he had with an older woman in London, and Tess tells Angel about her history with Alec. Tess forgives Angel, but Angel cannot forgive Tess. He gives her some money and boards a ship bound for Brazil Tess is heartbroken, jobless, and struggling to find work. She eventually encounters Alec D’urberville, he begins visiting her, relentlessly trying to convince her to marry him. She finally gives in when her family is evicted from their home after her father's death and they have nowhere to go. Alec provides them a home, and Tess agrees to be his wife.
At last, Angel decides to forgive his wife. He leaves Brazil, desperate to find her. He finds Tess in an expensive boardinghouse where he tells her he has forgiven her and begs her to take him back. Tess tells him he has come too late. She was unable to resist and went back to Alec d'Urberville. Angel leaves in a daze, and, heartbroken to the point of madness, Tess goes upstairs and stabs her lover to death. When the landlady finds Alec's body, she raises an alarm, but Tess has already fled to find Angel. Angel agrees to help Tess, though he cannot quite believe that she has actually murdered Alec. They hide out in an empty mansion for a few days, then travel farther. When they come to Stonehenge, Tess goes to sleep, but when morning breaks shortly thereafter, a search party discovers them. Tess is arrested and sent to jail, and executed. Angel then marries Tess’ younger sister Liza.
Review: This book opened my eyes to all the wonderful aspects of great literature. I have always loved Thomas Hardy since reading this book. I think he is a genius at describing the beauty of nature. Thomas Hardy's use of description is amazing. Not only is the reader almost on intimate terms with characters, but the scenery that he describes passes the test of time, in language that really does it. What stood out on the page and that surprised me is the clarity of description that shows up the author's skill. It is a tradgedy: The novel details the loss of innocence and the ultimate destruction of a young girl. And the tragic story of women and the choices they make. The way fate and destiny set the path for our lives. Wonderful book.
Opening Line: On an evening in the latter part of May a middle aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor.
Closing Line: As soon as they had strength they arose, joined hands again, and went on.
Quotes: "And the d'Urberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknowing."
"Out of the frying pan into the fire!"