comparative study between alec and angel
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I'll deal with each guy separately. Really Alec is the slimeball of the novel. He rapes Tess and basically ruins her life. Hardy makes Alec sound like stereotypical Latin playboy. There is some subtle (or not so subtle racism) here. Words like "swarthy complexion, full lips," and "barbarism" are used to convey a "foreignness" about him as opposed to decent European gentry. Hardy does give Alec a conversion. He becomes sort of born again preaching on rocks and stuff. Still when he sees Tess again he is all over her like a lonely sailor.
Angel is difficult to figure out. There is the irony of his name. Initially he seems like an "angel" swooping down to save Tess from her life of injustice and hardship. On their wedding night he leaves her when she finally confides in him. Then later on she is all pure again. At least Alec was consistent. Tess knew what to expect from Alec; he was slimy with wandering hands. Perhaps Angel needed to mature on a human level before realizing the truth about Tess. I'm not too sure but the two men are interesting to contrast.