Is the ending of the novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles justified?

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main character Tess, of course, is certainly a dynamic character. The novel is not only a bildungsroman, which emphasizes the rites of passage that each one of us makes during our youth, but it is the story of a young girl who must grow up and face life without much guidance in her life. Tess goes through so much hardship on her own at such a young age that she was bound to break down sooner or later. In the novel's case, she breaks at the climax of the story and murders a man who tormented her for years. Murder is not right, but any abused woman can certainly empathize with her plight. Tess is hanged for her murderous deed, so yes, the ending is justified; she is punished for killing Alec. If the question, however, is if Tess herself was justified when she killed Alec, the answer would be "no" in the real world. On the other hand, for the 18th century soap opera that it was for its time, the answer would be "yes!" Tess did have a right to kill a man who terrorized her during a time when women had no where to turn for legal or social protection. Any woman who has been terrorized in like manner would certainly champion Tess in her heart.

Read the study guide:
Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question