"Tess of D'urbervilles" (Hardy) & "Thelma and Louise" (film): Values & culture of context, universal truths

Essay by marnitramtinHigh School, 11th gradeA-, January 2007

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Texts do not contain comprehensive, inarguable views. They are in their own right correct, in the sense of their own culture and context but their views cannot be seen as a 'universal truth'. The novel, Tess of the D'urbervilles and the film Thelma & Louise project 'truths' that disagree with one another hence they are not truths at all. Each of the texts come from a different context a hundred years apart each with its own set of unique culture and values. What each have to say about particular issues such as women's place in society and villainy have subtle differences and hence the women are shown under different lights.

Characters Thelma and Louise face society's double standard as does Tess in her own world of hypocrisy. However the values of the differing contexts create different standards. For example, a main contributor to Tess's tragic fate is the double standard ideal of purity as she must be nothing "but a visionary essence of woman".

This ideal that is not required in the visionary of man, is also faded as a requirement for the woman in the modern era of Thelma and Louise. The purity and innocence that is strived for in Tess's era is seen in the character Thelma. Initially dressed in white, her innocence and lack of worldly experience is ironically a detrimental quality as it is the cause of her problematic encounters with Harlon and JD.

Thelma's counterpart, Louise initially represents strength as she is experienced and embodies free spirit and independence. Her deeper, more troubled persona is not fully developed in the film but the villains again in this case are men and also society - more specifically, the justice system.

The law plays an important role as the driving force of events in Thelma and Louise...