Moral and choices in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy

Essay by StylerCollege, Undergraduate January 1996

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Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbervilles is a novel in which his protagonist and other characters are confronted by an almost endless array of moral and socially acceptable choices. Thomas Hardy makes the reader to take a critical look at the character's situation, the character's thought process and the impact of the character's decision making in the society in which they live.

Thomas Hardy presents his reader with three major characters. They are the protagonist Tess Durbeyfield, Angel Clare (Tess's longtime love and husband)and Alec D'Urberville (Tess's seducer and husband). It is these three major characters whom Hardy chooses to place in the most precarious moral and social dilemmas. It is through these characters and their dilemmas that Thomas Hardy displays the social issues found in Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Hardy's protagonist seems to have been born in a dilemma. Tess was the oldest of a very large family and she had the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings.

Young Tess had many concerns to cope with in her life. Her father who drank too much came to understand that the Durbeyfield family could very well be the descendants of a royal family known as D'Urberville. Motivated by greed of becoming part of a higher class, with no thought for Tess, her mother and father made the conscious choice to send Tess to the D'Urberville mansion to acquire work and marry a wealthy man.

While employed at the D'Urberville mansion, Tess was confronted with her first major social dilemma whose name is Alec D'Urberville. The young Alec is portrayed as a spoiled, almost evil person; a high class snob. From the first time he laid eyes on Tess, he begins to seduce her. Hardy's use of Alec D'Urberville and his relationship to Tess, sets the standard for...