Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Open Wounds: Tess of the d’Urbervilles Concluding Essay 12th Grade

They say that we are harder on those we love—in this case, whom Tess loves: Angel Clare. Indeed, the reader holds Angel to higher standards, expects more of him, and indignantly reminds others of his greater obligations and ties to Tess. Thus, we are wont to judge Angel more harshly, and quicker to discard judgment of both Angel and Alec on an objective basis. When, however, we place emotions aside and rationally analyze events set into action by the consequences of both men, it is only logical that Alec’s actions are the heavier felony. It is he who harms Tess most directly—through his rape and initiation of her ostracizing from society, his detrimental persistence and persuasion, and finally, his merciless taunting and incitement of Tess’s last act of desperation which finalizes her long-doomed fate.

Alec not only violates Tess as an individual, but condemns her fate for life when he selfishly and deplorably rapes her. A child in all ways, Tess has her innocence shattered and her future destroyed as Alec scars her in every respect—physically, socially, and most enduringly, psychologically—in a single night. Physically, Tess bears the child of Sorrow, her own scarlet letter personified. Sorrow’s imminent death furthers the pain...

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