Tess Durberville Analysis

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These flavours of irony are enhanced through characters’ names. “Alec D’Urberville” is a counterfeit D’Urberville whereas “Tess Durbeyfield” is a rightful “D’Urberville”, evoking male perfidy and nobility of the “fallen woman”. Similarly, through the play title “Hedda Gabler”, Ibsen’s refusal to subsume Hedda’s personality into her marital title “Tesman” foregrounds her unorthodox personality, portraying the encumbering marriage facing every Victorian women, in which the limitation of the feminine role is embedded in the very nomenclature of society.
The writers endow Tess and Hedda with strength necessary to unleash revenge against the “seducer”, a polemic against masculine subduer of female innocence. Both writers subvert traditionally masculine symbols to convey the idea of retribution with Hardy
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More aptly, that “sexuality is equated with spirituality”, engendering his belief that Tess “belongs” to Alec since she has been physically “possessed” by him. Angel refuses to consummate marriage as “while that man lives”, Angel and Tess could not live together. Angel’s ethereal idealizations enact an immense pressure upon Tess to internalise the male preconceptions of women, to view herself as “wicked”. Recognizing herself in the image Angel constructed for her, Tess behaves accordingly by murdering Alec, motivated by an inherited sexist ideology that reunion with Angel is only possible if Tess’ possessor dies. Thus, Tess’ fall is caused more by the perceived crime of lost chastity than the act of rape itself. As only Victorian women are subjected to chastity, men could carry out sexually promiscuous acts whereas women are deemed “fallen” for sexual impurity. This double standard was crystallised and institutionalised in the Matrimonial Causes Act, allowing men to obtain a divorce when their wives committed fornication, but denying women the same
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