This may seem too fantastic for easy comprehension but if it does manage to sink in, it will leave your throat with a damp lump.
It is always a great privilege to read Thomas Hardy, and when it comes to the apt portrayal of the Victorian era, I think that he surpasses all his contemporaries with ease. Hardy’s novels are never about the plot, are never as exciting as those court room dramas… but the way his characters force you to empathize with them, almost feel similarly, and leave you with a feeling of emptiness sets him apart from all novelists of his time and further…..But alas! this is not about eulogizing Thomas Hardy, but about one of his most read works Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
The back cover of the novel says “her seduction by a rich relative, her work as a dairy maid. her romance and marriage with Angel Clare. her abandonment by her husband on the wedding night, her misfortunes and hardships which send her back to the arms of her seducer, the return of the repentant husband, her murder of the seducer in a fit of frustrated rage, her arrest and subsequent hanging…..”
What if I say that Tess was a pure woman…And keep on saying that for the whole day.. You will be forced to believe that it was true..No matter how absurd or how empty my argument is..
The same is true with the novel. Hardy keeps on telling that Tess is a pure woman, who is beyond all senses of goods and evils…and keeps on reciting events that corroborate his arguement..All this is expedient, grotesque…But how do you show your dissent to a man who resides in his grave..Yes, Tess of the D’urberville tests your patience and tries to force you to believe into its absurdities despite your perseverance. Hardy says that all that happened with Tess was purely out of circumstances, quite out of proportion of our generation that makes us believe that “life is about choices we make” . Yes the events that happen with Tess are grave and odious. The pathos she is faced with, makes you sympathize with her. But I simply cannot comprehend why under the fit of passion she could kill her seducer when there could have been merrier ways of reconciliation. I cannot fathom how and why she could not tell her erstwhile misshapennings before she got wedded to Angel Clare. Most of the novel seems to be written out of passion and less with practicality, and hence turns out to be not as good as other of Hardy’s novels. Well, it does leave you with a lump in your throat, but what use is it when it makes you travel through sheer absurdities and magnificent unfathomable events.
After this I hardly think that you will be picking up this novel and wasting your time. Rather watch the less acclaimed movie Trishna( 2011) starring Frieda Pinto that is based on the Hardy’s work. If you feel impressed by the genre it traverses, then go ahead and pick the book, else refrain from this deeply ” pessimistic, disagreeable and immoral” work.
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