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How is belief or faith shown or represented in Tess of the d'Urbervilles?

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idrajit | Student, Grade 12 | Honors

Posted September 6, 2013 at 4:16 AM via web

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How is belief or faith shown or represented in Tess of the d'Urbervilles?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 6, 2013 at 5:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Belief or faith is something that is expressed by a number of characters in different ways. One of the earliest examples of belief or faith that the reader is presented with is the faith of Tess's mother, Mrs. Durbeyfield, in the book that she pores over every day to try and discern Tess's future. This book, the Complete Fortune-Teller, is the receptacle of so much faith and belief that Mrs. Durbeyfield insists it is kept inside somewhere after dark:

"And take the Complete Fortune-Teller to the outhouse" ... The Complete Fortune-Teller was an old thick volume, which lay on a table at her elbow, so worn by pocketing that the margins had reached the edge of the type.

Note the way that the book is described as being "so worn by pocketing that the margins had reached the edge of the type." This book is clearly read again and again by Tess's mother as she seeks to work out what will happen to Tess. Clearly Mrs. Durbeyfield places immense faith in this source to be able to predict what will happen to her daughter. As the reader later finds out, it is clear that this book has been partly successful at least in revealing to Tess's mother some of what will befall Tess. After all, she will marry a gentleman, as the book prophesies, but the exact nature of who that gentleman will be and the circumstances behind it are left unclear. Faith and belief then in this novel are often presented in ways that highlight more pagan or supernatural elements than simply referring to a Christian faith.

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