How are Angel's leaving Tess and Tess's murder of Alec connected?Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Angel finds Tess enticing because she contradicts the stereotype of the "Hodge," the stereotype of the dull, farm worker.  Moreover, he is enthralled with Tess's apparent innocence, finding her a "fresh, virginal daughter of nature."  However, when he learns on their wedding night of her rape, his perceptions of Tess change unalterably.  Because she has ruined what has attracted him to her--his idealization of Tess--Angel no longer desires her.  In fact, he finds her repugnant, and leaves her in his great disappointment, much as he leaves his father's church in some disappointment.

After his years of loneliness and hard work in Brazil, Angel finally realizes that no one has loved him as has Tess.  He returns to England to beg her to take him back.  However, in so doing, he is too late to help Tess.  For, her downfall has been sealed by her socioeconomic position; after rejecting Alec D'Uberville repeatedly, she feels compelled to live with him because of the dire circumstances surrounding her family:  They are now homeless, without their patriarch, and starving.  When Angel appears at her door, Tess cries, "Too late! Too late!"  His appearance represents the constant interference that Fate places in the way of her attempts at happiness.  Still, in her final desperate attempt for some happiness, Tess stabs Alec who stands in her way to being with Angel, the only person with whom she has ever had any peace in her turbulent life. Both action of Angel Clare, his rejection of Tess, and his return cause the death of Tess's fated attempts at happiness.


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