In Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, how is Tess "a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience"?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The word "tincture" means to have a trace of something, or a small amount. In this quote, Tess is a carrier of surface-level emotion without a trace of life's experience to guide her through any trials or tribulations she may face. Women in the Victorian age were sheltered and considered to be weaklings who must be taken care of by parents or husbands. She, being a woman, also fell victim to the social philosophy of the day that emotional is also synonomous with being weak. Odds were against poor Tess from her youthful beginnings; but, the quote could be considered a type of foreshadowing because throughout the book she most certainly gains many experiences in which she proves herself to be very strong. She is stubborn and prideful and won't take anyone's help unless it is from her family and only in a time of desperate need. This strength in her convictions becomes a tool for life as well as a curse in some situations.

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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