Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Tess: A Bold Examination of the Double Standard in Victorian Culture
Thomas Hardy's Tess portrays a central character who is at the mercy of both circumstance and fate. Tess, by Victorian definition, is a fallen woman and, as such, not accountable for her own fate. Numerous critics -- Rosemary Morgan, Norman Page, and Terrence Wright among others -- have argued that Tess is to be forgiven or, at the very least, exonerated for her weaknesses, as she is an unfortunate "victim" of nature. As Tess is sexually vital and naive, she is almost expected, at least according to the beliefs of Victorian culture, to be a victim. All such statements stem from the Victorian double-standard, an unfortunate belief and practice relating to the inequality found in relationships of men and women. To understand the Victorian double standard is to understand entirely the power and purpose of Hardy's Tess and its protagonist of the same name: "There is no denunciation, in his entire oeuvre, as unequivocal as his denunciation of the sexual double-standard in Tess" (Morgan 84). If Hardy's Tess is the story of a woman whose "violation by one man and the betrayal of another" (Kramer 149) ultimately kills her, then her tragic demise is entirely the result of the persistent and...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 804 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5927 literature essays, 1677 sample college application essays, 230 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in