Role of Fate in Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Thomas Hardy wrote this novel in the end of the last decade of the nineteenth century. This novel is remarkable like all the other Hardy’s novels for the tragic vision it indicates; there is a story which ends in a tragic manner. In so far as Hardy is concerned, he writes tragedy of fate which has a major role to play. This novel is almost like the Greek tragedy in the classical Greek tragedy in the sense that they wrote play in a way where Aristotle wrote Greek tragedy and other things. He was dealing particularly with plays. But the world view was essentially disastrous in tragedy mainly because in those Greek tragedies, the tragedy arose out of the dictates of fate. So, fate had decreed that it would be like this. And, because it was decreed that it would be like this, it happened accordingly.

So, the tragedy in Greece according to the classical western tradition owes its existence to the role of fate that there is a tragic end is a result of the fact that fate had decreed like this. So, if we take for example the tragedies of Sophocles who is one of most classical writers; he wrote very popular tragedies, like Oedipus Rex. It is so popular because Freud has analyzed Oedipus Rex from the point of view of Oedipus’ Complex. This tragic play is a story of a child who is born like any other child and at the time of birth itself it is forecast from the skies that he will slay his father and marry the mother. Oedipus commits the sin of patricide and marries his own mother, an act which is the most despicable sin man could ever commit. So, it destined in this way. The oracle predicts that this case is going to happen with this child. Fore this reason the king, the father of the child throws the child away into the jungle. But the infant Oedipus was saved by a shepherd. Oedipus returns after some time and again by some chance the kingdom of the empire is given to the same child, Oedipus. He takes up the kingdom from his father and also marries the Queen.

All this revealed later on with the help of the shepherd who has taken the thrown up child and taken care of him. The shepherd comes and testifies that it is the same child.

Thus, the story of Oedipus is the story of fate or destiny. Destiny has decreed that it will be like that. Destiny said that Oedipus will kill the King and marry the queen. Accordingly that destiny proves to be true. So, Oedipus Rex is just one of the stories in the Greek traditions which more or less share the same pattern with all other Greek stories. That pattern is some kind of an oracle predicting some catastrophe to happen for the people at large, or for an individual. And, whatever has been predicted happens to be true in spite of human efforts of avoiding it.

So, Oedipus Rex in this sense is the story of a king who threw his child because it was predicted that he would kill his own father and marry his own mother. But despite the efforts of the king to avoid the destiny, the destiny proved to be true. On this basis, this how we have a framework of tragedy. The classical Greek tragedy was essentially based on fate. It was tragical because all it happened to be what it was because it was decreed to be what happened. So, we find that fate and destiny have a major role to play in the classical tragedy of Greece.

However, later on when Shakespeare wrote his tragedies, he wrote his tragedies in a different manner. Shakespearean tragedy is different from the classical Greek tragedy in so far as the role of fate is concerned simply because in his tragedy the role of fate has a very marginal dimension. Chance and fate has a role in Romeo and Juliet even though it should be classified as a dark play and not exactly as a tragedy. But the death of Romeo and Juliet is a consequence of chance that Juliet takes the medicine and pretends to die and Romeo thinks that she is dead and kills himself. And because Romeo has killed himself, Juliet died....
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