Ilustration of Tess on hilly pink terrain with trees and clouds in the background

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

by Thomas Hardy

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In Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles, is Tess entirely a victim of fate?

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The only direct mention of fate is by Joan, Tess's mother, on page 12 when she is talking to her husband.  She tells him that she checked Tess's fate in a book called "The Fortune Teller" and it apparently said that Tess would marry a nobleman. The ironic thing about Fate, though, is it never reveals the journey that leads to the end result, how long the result will last, or if the person will live happily ever after. There isn't a strong presence of Fate in the story as manifested in any character, either, so many of the troubles and trials that Tess faces seem simply coincidental and not an act of some Fate intervening for the jest of it. Many times throughout the story, Tess makes choices out of fear rather than confidence and this hurts her either directly or indirectly; so, one wouldn't necessarily say Fate stepped in at that point. For example, she battles back and forth with herself as to whether or not to tell Angel about her past. In the end, it seems to be too late when she finally does tell him and she misjudges him and his reaction to her disappointment. So, Fate is mentioned at the beginning of the story, but all of Tess's choices seem to be more of a problem for her than Fate.

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