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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What is Hardy's feminist approach in Tess of the d'Urbervilles?

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Hardy's feminist perspective can be seen on the very cover of the novel. The book's full title is Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented. His description of Tess as pure goes against how she is treated in the book. Because she has had a child out of wedlock she is shunned and mistreated. Hardy does not place the blame on Tess, though; he believes her to still be pure regardless of what has happened to her. This subtitle often goes unnoticed and leads people to believe that Hardy thinks that Tess's treatment in the novel is appropriate. Hardy is not participating in victim blaming or furthering rape culture. His portrayal of poor unhappy Tess is his way of showing real and horrible gender inequality. Feminism is built upon removing this sort of gender inequality.

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