Tess of the D'Ubervilles: Distorted Stereotypes

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Hannah Malatzky
September 27, 2012
Mr. Pape
Extra Credit Assignment: Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Distorted Stereotypes
As children, people grow up with stories about a perfect princess who was put through a tough time, but was rescued by her prince charming, a perfect man. Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a story about a girl, though she is certainly not a princess, who falls in love with a boy that leaves her and breaks her heart. The author of the book, Thomas Hardy chose to create his story around three characters that are not so stereotypical. Hardy uses distorted stereotypes in his two main male characters, Alec and Angel. These distorted stereotypes were used by Hardy to make his novel more realistic. They were also used in order to poke fun at the people of Hardy’s time that thought rural England was great. Hardy distorts stereotypes to change the way people of rural England thought and to make his book more realistic.

Hardy distorted stereotypes as a way to make his book more representative of what life is actually like. Hardy’s two main male characters Alec and Angel are far from stereotypical. Alec was a jerk that raped and impregnated Tess while Angel left Tess after hearing of her impurity even though he had just confessed that he was impure. Both men betrayed Tess at tough moments in her life. Hardy used these two male characters to show that not every storybook character has to be like in a fairytale; that characters can be like normal people, with faults such as unreliability and the ability to hurt someone. At one point in the book Tess writes to Angel, “Oh why have you treated me so monstrously, Angel! I do not deserve it,” in an angry worded letter (415). Angel’s cruelty of character that Hardy added to make him less stereotypical shines through in this quote where Tess is crying that he has treated her wrongly. This cruelty adds realism to Angel and Alec. Stereotypical characters that are normally read about are too good to be true. They lack...
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