AP Literature and Composition – Period 5
29 October 2012
2011 Form B AP Essay – Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Finding true love can be one of the most difficult yet most satisfying things in the world. In Tess of the D’Urbervilles, fate proved to be the determining factor when finding true love. Over the course of Tess’s life, she was taken advantage of and swindled until the happy times with Angel when her life turned around. Marrying Angel was a difficult step for Tess due to her haunted past, and when Angel learns of Tess’s past, he decides to leave her. Angel proved through sleepwalking with Tess in his arms that he truly did love her, illuminating his true feeling and foreshadowing what would later occur in the novel.
In writing Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hardy uses all of the morals and values present in the Victorian era to base the plot of the story on. In the novel, the most recurring theme is most likely that of purity being determined by self-sacrifice, not by forceful actions. Tess is a woman that is pure at heart, very loving of those around her. She cares for all of her family and goes off on her own to help support the family. In the Victorian era, the woman’s sole purpose was to be the caretaker of the family, a role that Tess willingly takes on due to her loving nature. The purity of her soul is immense, but according to Victorian virtues, this purity is solely determined by chastity. When Alec D’Urberville takes advantage of Tess, she loses her Victorian purity. She feels wretched, cursed to never find true love. Tess, however, finds this love just three years later on a dairyfarm, when she falls in love with Angel.
Tess, realizing that she is a damned soul and is incapable of love due to her lack of purity, attempts to push Angel away. Angel’s love for Tess is too strong, though, and they eventually marry. Tess then feels obligated to finally tell Angel of her cursed past, revealing her loss of chastitiy...