How far was Tess herself responsible for her misfortune?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poor Tess suffers from a huge guilt complex, stubbornness, and naivety. Add those disorders to the fact that women were considered male property and weak, sexless creatures and her suffering increases 100 fold. Tess could have handled a few situations in her life a lot better than she did if she had only straightened her shoulders and faced the issue with courage and confidence.  For example, when the family horse accidentally dies, she blames herself to the point that she gives into her mother's desires to seek out a nobleman for a husband. She lacks the courage to communicate what she really wants in life; which, in fact, is a characteristic maintained by all Victorian women. Another situation that she could have dealt with better is when Angel leaves her. He tells her that he isn't angry with her, but that he just needs time to accept her past life. He even offers her money from his father if she ever needs it, but she never seeks her father-in-law's help. Had she done so, she may have avoided the physical labor of working as a farm hand and lived comfortably until Angel figured things out. In the end, it is a balance between unfortunate circumstances and pride that brings so much suffering to her life.

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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