Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Religious and Social Criticism in Tess of the D’Urbervilles 12th Grade

Throughout the Victorian era people began to question societal norms. This time period is well known for its patriarchal society and the oppression of women through political, economic, social, and religious constructs. However, the role and status of women in society was redefined by the wave of the feminist movement. Many authors became involved in this radical movement and sought to expose the ills of society through their literary work. Thomas Hardy is one of these authors and he is successful in using his novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles as a social critique. In Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy attempts to redefine Victorian social constructs through exposing the flaws of religion and perceptions of female sexuality.

Women were often objectified and taken advantage of, as well as labeled and categorized as a result of sexist ideals. These women fell victim to these notions and were in turn were seen as lesser in the eyes of society and the church. Alec is relentless in his pursuit of Tess. Despite her obvious lack of feelings for him, he continues to try to win her over. One night he promises to take her home but instead they become lost in the woods. Alec goes to find a landmark so he can bring her home and Tess...

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