Thursday, 30 September 2010

Tess Of The D'Urbervilles By Thomas Hardy

When the Durbeyfields send their daughter Tess to pursue a tenuous family connection with the wealthy D'Urbervilles in the hope of improving their fortunes, Tess's life is changed irrevocably. A manipulative friendship with her 'cousin' ends in a shocking act of betrayal, and Tess is forced to return home shamed and outcast.
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Hope of real love arrives when Tess meets kind parson's son Angel Clare and it seems happiness is finally within her reach. Yet, in a society of twisted morality and in the ever-looming shadow of Tess's past, will Angel Clare accept her?
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I really adored this book. It was completely heartbreaking yet completely beautiful at the same time. Tess is a naive and delicate girl at times but also strong-willed and honest at others. It should be a depressing book because Tess has to go through a lot of terrible things and everytime you think things are starting to look up for her, the plot takes a complete u-turn back to misery and hopelessness, yet, Tess's innocence and love shines through. Hardy manages to explain things in a way in which you still end up quite liking the characters even though half of them make terrible decisions and choices.
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On reading this book you realise how attitudes towards women have changed over the decades since this book was published. Sometimes women are portrayed as weak in early novels but Hardy shows that women can be strong in such a difficult time and terrible circumstances and are able to stick to their principles and stay honest even though their options and opportunities are minimal.
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The main characters are a complex bunch. They are all constantly trying to stick to their morals (especially Tess and Angel or in Alec's case trying to find them) and having to wrestle with the emotions and feelings that don't coincide with these beliefs. Tess is a person filled with immense passion and love but also has a bit of a passive and quiet personality which makes an interesting combination into a compelling read. Angel was a love-hate character. One minute you loved him because he loved Tess than you hated him because he gives up everything for some ridiculous principle that doesn't even make sense (but I suppose back than it was what was expected). But in the end you kind of like him because he makes the right choice (even if it does come a bit too late).
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I love the setting in the English countryside. Hardy is brilliant in his description of the beautiful and simplistic surroundings. I know some people may find it over descriptive and just want to go back to the story but I never tire of it.
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In a way it is a tragic book. It makes you wonder if you have a choice in the path you choose. Whether you are destined to live the life you are born into depending on your family and their wealth or even the attitudes of the times you live in. Overall though it is about one girl and her struggle for love and peace in a world that seems to be against her.
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Random Passage: But this encompassment of her own characterization, based on shreds of convention, peopled by phantoms and voices antipathetic to her, was a sorry and mistaken creation of Tess's fancy - a cloud of moral hobgoblins by which she was terrified without reason. It was they that were out of harmony with the actual world, not she. Walking among the sleeping birds in the hedges, watching the skipping rabbits on a moonlit warren, or standing under a pheasant-laden bough, she looked upon herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of Innocence. But all the while she was making a distinction where there was no difference. Feeling herself in antagonism she was quite in accord. She had been made to break an accepted social law, but no law known to the environment in which she fancied herself such an anomaly.

1 comment:

booksploring said...

I think I started this one and never finished it! :-) Don't know why...because I was enjoying it. Might have to find it and give it another go. Nice review :-)