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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"The President Of The Immortals"

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Context: Tess Durbeyfield, a girl of low birth and innocent heart, is seduced by a wealthy young man, Alec D'Urberville, and bears him a son who lives only a short while. When later she confesses the episode to her husband, Angel Clare, on their wedding night, Clare renounces her, and leaves her to endure a series of difficult trials. When, a considerable time later, Clare manages to forgive his wife, and returns to her, she has again fallen prey to Alec D'Urberville. In desperation she kills him to obtain her freedom. Tess and Angel are united in genuine love for each other, but their belated happiness ends abruptly when she is arrested for murder. Tess, who carried the burdens of others' sins and errors, is executed, and she ceases to be tormented by Fate.

"Justice" was done, and the President of the Immortals, in Aeschylean phrase, had ended his sport with Tess. And the d'Urberville knights and dames slept on in their tombs unknowing . . .

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