It seems in Hardy's novel that murder and betrayal are not controlled directly by the characters in the novel. The plot is mired by tragedy after tragedy, all of which appear to be completely out of the control of Tess. Fate seems to be against her. The roll of fate in the novel is pervasive. It is in control of nearly every action the poor girl makes.
It is important to know also that Thomas Hardy considered himself to be a fatalist. He believed that everything in life was predetermined by fate.
In Hardy's novel, the effect of fate and destiny on a person's life is well-portrayed in the character of Tess Durbeyfield. In almost every action and decision taken by Tess, she seems to be governed by her fate. The following incidents highlight the role of fate and destiny in Tess's life.
- Prince dies, when she takes the beehives to the market, which eventually leads her to find work at the D'urbervilles and then be impregnated by Alec.
- When she is raped by Alec, Hardy comments, that it was "to be" because, her forefathers also raped peasant women in their times.
- Her letter escapes Angel's notice by being hidden under a rug by chance, which contributes to the hardships she undergoes as a wife.
- She meets Alec again in the course of the novel as a priest which is also an act of fate as it leads her to be his wife, and then eventually murder him.
Thomas Hardy, in one of his novels, writes that "character is fate" which is a quotation from a 18th cc. German writer Hardenberg. Hardy continues, "It is not destiny but your own weakness that is against you".
In the novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles", we see that Tess is actually murdered by the conventional society, not because of her fate. So the role of destiny is little in the novel in the incidents like the Tess' letter's staying under the carpet, accident causing the killing of the Prince or late acquaintance of Angel and Tess.