In Tess of The D' Urbervilles, Tess suffers many injustices, some of which she may have brought upon herself. How could Tess have avoided some of her ill-gotten fate, and is she, thus, to blame for part or all that has happened to her? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The fiction of Thomas Hardy is concerned with the fate of common people in the grips of an indefinite destiny. What he termed the Immanent Will is an all-inclusive mind or ultimate reality of the universe that induces people to act on impulses or instincts they cannot resist.  Shaped by a fate cosmic in scope, Tess Durbeyfield is "a Pure Woman" who is victimized; she is unable to escape her destiny, becoming a mere witness to her own fate.

Since Tess's tragedy is pre-planned-- she is propelled into situations--there is little that she can do to prevent the outcome. Perhaps, if there were any choice that Tess has, it is that of killing Alec D'Uberville, an act that seems to come from her desperation and defeat of will. Sudden in nature, it seems impulsive; yet, the Immanent Will causes people to act on impulse, Hardy believes, so this action, too, seems not to be of her free will, but instead a reaction to the ill-fortuned coming of Angel Clare, who is too late to save her. Tess cries,

Oh, yes, I have lost him now--again because of--you!...And he is dying --he loks as if he is dying!--And my sin will kill him and not kill me! Oh, you have torn my life all to pieces--made me be what I prayed you in pity not to make me be again! ...My own true husband will never, never--oh, God--I can't bear this! I cannot!

In her total desperation and despair, Tess has killed her husband Alec d'Uberville.  She tells Clare, He has come between us and ruined us, and now he can never do it anymore. I never loved him at all, as I loved you.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial