School of Communication
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.