Homework Help

Who is responsible for the distress of Tess?who is responsible for the dietress of Tress

user profile pic

porashuna | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 19, 2010 at 7:54 AM via web

dislike 1 like
Who is responsible for the distress of Tess?

who is responsible for the dietress of Tress

4 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 19, 2010 at 9:11 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

You could blame a lot of different people for the problems that Tess faces in this novel.  I would choose her father.

It is her father's pretensions and his drunkenness that bring about the events that send Tess on the road to all her problems.  If he had not been so lazy, if he had not been a drunk, things would have been better for Tess.  These negative attributes got worse after he discovered the origins of the family.  They led to the accident where the horse got killed, which led Tess to get involved with Alec.  So I would argue her dad is at fault.

user profile pic

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

Posted December 19, 2010 at 12:55 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Interestingly, Hardy I think would respond that the Immanent Will was responsible for Tess's downfall. This was the term he came up with to describe the sense that we are playthings of fate and that destiny conspires against us. Whilst it is tempting to blame one person, perhaps it is more realistic to look at Hardy's philosophy and his overall pessimistic stance.

user profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 20, 2010 at 9:05 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

Interestingly, Hardy I think would respond that the Immanent Will was responsible for Tess's downfall. This was the term he came up with to describe the sense that we are playthings of fate and that destiny conspires against us. Whilst it is tempting to blame one person, perhaps it is more realistic to look at Hardy's philosophy and his overall pessimistic stance.

Thank you for your cogent remark that is, indeed, at the heart of Hardy's works. 

Tess of the d'Ubervilles can also be read as an indictment of the evils of the Industrial Revolution that changed unalterably Hardy's beloved countryside.  In an essay, "The Dorsetshire Labourer," Hardy criticized the agricultural depression of 1870 brought on by the use of machinery to do what hitherto agrarian workers had been doing:

But the question of the Dorset cottager...here merges in that of all the house less and landless poor and the vast topic of the Rights of Man.

In addition, Social Darwinism enters into the motifs of Hardy's novel.  Angel refers to this theory in his reference to "Hodge"--the stereotypical dull "farm-folk."  Angel notices in Tess "the ache of modernism."  So says enotes:

For Tess, Angel, and others, the God of their childhood was no longer able to answer their questions.  Darwin's book ended forever the security of a society that could offer unalterable answers to every question; like Angel, many began to put their faith in intellectual liberty.
user profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 23, 2010 at 2:09 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

It's worth remembering that Thomas Hardy was trying to show the degeneration of society in the writing of this novel. That makes your question difficult to answer, as Tess's problem is generational.... her imagined family talents and assets have dwindled down through the centuries at the hands of various dissolute and unlucky ancestors, or so it would seem. Then, her current family, and the people she meets contribute further to her downfall, so it's difficult to lay the blame on one person.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes