Fate in Tess of the D'Ubervilles

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In Tess of the D'Ubervilles Thomas Hardy creates a sense that fate is guiding each of the characters, often for the worst, to an inevitable end. From the beginning of the novel Tess shows a thorough understanding of her shortcomings and an acceptance that she is destined to lead a difficult life. Hardy uses societal circumstance and fate to create the powerfully tragic story of Tess, her family and her relationships, and how she chooses to play to the hand that she is dealt. From the beginning of the story we understand that Tess is fully aware of her shortcomings in life and that she is destined to walk a path of hardship. When speaking with her brother in the fourth chapter of the book she speaks of this awareness, “Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?"

"Yes."
"All like ours?"
"I don't know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound - a few blighted." "Which do we live on - a splendid one or a blighted one?"

"A blighted one” (33).
Tess’s early understanding of the tragic life she is meant to lead foreshadows the situations waiting for her. For the remainder of the novel, almost every single time something good happens to Tess it is snatched away from her on the next page. In more than one way it seems that fate is conspiring against Tess throughout the novel. Hardy almost completely takes away the characters’ abilities to change their circumstances, imprisoning them by the harsh Victorian societal structure. From the beginning Hardy uses recurring themes to illustrate that Tess's death has been pre-determined, giving us the notion that whatever path she chooses she will end up where Hardy wants her to. While it could be argued that her choices are the only influence in her life, I feel that from the moment her character was developed her end was virtually decided. Or, at least, this is what Hardy wants us to feel. While she could be considered responsible for her actions, she...
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