Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

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What is the subtitle of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The subtitle is important to know about because it was part of a tremendous controversy that Hardy's book ignited surrounding what was called by his Victorian society "the Woman question." This question reflected Victorian society's attempt to define the place and role of womankind. The dominant theory at the time was that woman should remain in and govern the private sphere of the home being both, and contradictorily, the pure angel of the hearth and beyond the ability of being properly educated. Mankind, on the other hand, should be active in and govern the public sphere of business, finance, science, philosophy and teaching religion. The angelic services and unclouded purity of womankind was central to the "Woman" debate.

This leads us to Hardy's subtitle for Tess. One of Hardy's aims in his novel, which some critics characterized as subversive, was to expose the inner thoughts, psychology and capacity of...

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