Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 2006

School

School of Communication

Major

English

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature

Abstract

Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D 'Urbervilles has multiple competing claims which are difficult to reconcile within the schools ofhist0l1cal, feminist, or classical criticism. A better way to approach the novel is to look at Tess as a pawn within Hardy's own struggle with God. Hardy constructs God as the author of the multiple systems which lead to Tess' final doom: a flawed genetic line, a flawed sexual double standard, and a flawed system of justice. Tess, in Hardy's mind, becomes the victim of a God who is akin to the deity of Greek playwright Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, rather than the merciful and loving Christian God. This victimization justifies Hardy's assertion that Tess is a pure woman even though society holds her responsible for multiple sins.

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