Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Per 7 Johnny Pao AP Literature Tess of the D’Urbervilles Tess of the D’Urbervilles, a work written during a period of transition, is the criticism of Thomas Hardy towards the shortcomings of his own society. Meant to expose the true nature of modern England, Hardy extracts from a fictional world where an era of old values is slowly replaced by one with more modern ones. Through occasional allusion to classic works and splendid organization of events, Hardy expresses his regret for civilization when an industrialized economy brings about hypocrisy and a powerful upper class that prospers as they feed on the life of the good. Tess’s own life in the book is a direct comparison towards society. In the novel, Tess is a country girl, young and naive, who knows not of the evils of mankind. Being weak and good hearted, Tess represents the typical peasant in the industrial age. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, Tess is forced to live with her two unproductive parents of seemingly noble blood. The background of Tess’s parents highlight the irony of the lower class taking on the name of the upper, hinting that they are both the same by nature and that the wealthy are no more better than the poor. The situation of Tess living with two “noble” people also illuminates the theme of injustice, as Tess is often thrown into tragedy because of the attitudes of her parents. An example of such is the death of Prince. In the book, Tess is persuaded to take honey to the market for sale with their family horse, Prince. However, due to large amounts of stress and exhausting living conditions, Tess fails the job and Prince ends up being killed. The scene ridicules modern society in that the weak are always the laborers for the powerful, and in the end they can only blame themselves for being born into the wrong place and the wrong time. This idea of predestination can be
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