How does Hardy show that Tess is a victim of her contemporary society?

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles Tess is victimized by a Victorian society that is conservative and steeped in a tradition of class distinction.  The society may appear sophisticated, but it is rigid and unforgiving on the surface, and corrupt underneath. 

When males participate in the same behavior Tess does but she is the only one to suffer for it, Hardy is demonstrating that Tess is a victim of the mores and values of her society.  When Tess is unfairly judged and figuratively condemned, she is a victim of her society. 

The backward thinking and lack of progressive thought in the Victorian society she is a part of victimizes Tess.  It is a partriarchal and a sexist society. 

mkcapen1 | Student

Hardy demonstrates that Tess is a victim of circumstance and class as opposed to the progressive society in which she is placed.  Tess is a simple girl who succumbs to the morality of a Victorian society which is unforgiving and relentless and dominated by men.

In the society in which Tess resides she is easily taken advantage of by Alec d'Urberville.  He knows that she really has no voice and is nothing in society.  She can be used up as a sexual toy.

Tess is denied any degree of happiness because of the social mores of the society.  It is her last ditch effort to gain even the slightest bit of love that completely seals her fate.

Hardy's last statement says:

"Justice" was done, and the president of the Immortals had ended his sport with Tess."



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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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