Hardy’s vision of tragedy

The main considerations in tragedy

  • What sort of persons are the victims of suffering?
  • What are the causes of disaster or catastrophe?
  • What is the emotional reaction of the audience?
  • What is the writer’s view of human nature?
  • What type of conflict is used?

 A democratic choice of characters

What sort of person are victim of suffering? The victim of sufferings are the  natives of the countryside  (Wessex’s Folk) ordinary men and women. Tess presents the peasantry. The sufferings of Tess and his family also the suffering of other milk maids. They all belongs to peasantry and lower class.

The causes of disaster

The causes of Tess’s suffering is the responsibility of Angel and Alec, of society and ruling class. First Alec’s lust ruined the Tess and then Angels conventional thinking ruined the Tess.

Secondly Tess herself responsible for her sufferings (Tragic flaw). Her intense sense of guilt and faithful nature ruined her life but these two aspects of life makes her character unforgettable.

Thirdly her fate also play important role in her sufferings. Her life is full of chances and coincidence like death of prince, seduction and written confession goes under carpet etc. Hardy quotes the words of Shakespeare:   “As the flies to the wanton boys, we are to the gods they kill us for their support.”



 The emotional impact

This novel arouse the emotions of Pity and terror. The emotions of pity for Tess when Alec seduced her and she was in sleep, tired and in mental agony due quarrel with mates.

Tess is happy with her son Sorrow but Sorrow gives her sorrow and died in infancy. The problem of burial intensify the emotions of pity for her.

The emotions of pity arouse for the Tess when Angel desert her just after marriage thinking conventionally.

The emotions of pity arouse by the labour at Flintcomb Ash and her journey towards the  Angel’s parents house, listening the words of Marcy Chant and removal of the walking boots.

Alec’s recapture of her also arouse the emotions of pity because of her family circumstance and no answer of the letters from Angel.

Novel as a whole is a most poignant story of Hardy. We find a stream of suffering by Tess one after one in this novel.


This novel also arouse the emotions of terror only once when Tess stabbed the Alec but her this action stunned the readers.

 Hardy’s view of human nature

Hardy’s views about human nature are noble and sublime. He presents the Tess as dutiful, self-sacrificing and faithful. Angel’s parents are compassionate enough. Dairyman Crick is kindhearted man. Angel essentially good hearted man but self-contradictory.

Hardy presents the Alec as villain, as seducer,  as preacher and as lecher. Alec have redeeming quality, he offers to marry Tess in order to compensate his crime.

 Inner and outer conflict

In this novel both types of conflicts were found the Inner conflict and outer conflict.

Inner conflict

The inner conflict is found in Tess’s mind when Angel propose her, Tess desire to disclose her secret  to Angel and in Angel’s mind in Brazil when he reexamine her issue.

Outer conflict

Outer conflict also found between Tess and Angel after marriage and Angel desert her. Then between Tess and Alec when Alec try to recapture her near cross hand stone.


7.  Conclusion

It is tragedy of fate, Tess predestined to suffer as in Greek tragedy “Peoples are mere puppet in the hands of god”. Character flaw have very minor role in this novel. It is most poignant story of Hardy and unforgettable character of Tess.

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