Lauren Roberts AS English Literature Mr Wilkins
How does Hardy unfold the idea that 'a woman pays' in Tess of the d'Urbervilles and how is
this illuminated by your partner text?
Hardy unfolds the idea that 'a woman pays' through the constraints of Victorian moral
values, male superiority and the influence of aristocracy. This is further illuminated by Du
Maurier's Rebecca where male dominance and misogyny mean only the woman will pay. As
a woman in the midst of an undeniably patriarchal society, Tess is unable to escape the social
structure. Tess epitomizes the case that the innocent pay for the guilty. Similarly, Rebecca
faces a fight against the pressure of the Victorian society to maintain a perfect marriage, but
fails to succeed. Both women pay for the mistakes they have made as well as other's mistakes
and 'justice was done.'
Tess pays in many ways throughout the novel and often Tess' misfortune is related to male
superiority within the society. She is the embodiment of the tragic figure and when Hardy
writes 'President of Immortals' saw the protagonists life as a 'sport' showing Tess' life was
always determined by an omnipresent force. The diction 'sport' reflects the fleeting interest
that these Gods had with Tess, and that her struggle was merely a pastime. Moreover, the
contrast in significance between "Gods" and "Tess" demonstrates her vulnerability. It is clear
that Tess's tragic journey was something she was 'doomed to receive'; but the bildungsroman
is written in such a way that the reader is left wondering whether the course of Tess's life
would have changed had she not been treated 'so monstrously' by the 'cruel, cruel' men she
met along the way. Alec, the archetypal seducer in Victorian melodrama, after his violation
of Tess' virginity, doesn't realise his sin. The fact...