How does Hardy unfold the idea that ‘a woman pays’ in Tess of the d’Urbervilles and how is this illuminated by your partner text? Hardy unfolds the idea that ‘a woman pays’ through the constraints of Victorian moral values, male superiority and the influence of aristocracy. This is further illuminated by Du Maurier’s Rebecca where male dominance and misogyny mean only the woman will pay. As a woman in the midst of an undeniably patriarchal society, Tess is unable to escape the social structure. Tess epitomizes the case that the innocent pay for the guilty. Similarly, Rebecca faces a fight against the pressure of the Victorian society to maintain a perfect marriage, but fails to succeed. Both women pay for the mistakes they have made as well as other’s mistakes and ‘justice was done.’ Tess pays in many ways throughout the novel and often Tess’ misfortune is related to male superiority within the society. She is the embodiment of the tragic figure and when Hardy writes ‘President of Immortals’ saw the protagonists life as a ‘sport’ showing Tess’ life was always determined by an omnipresent force. The diction ‘sport’ reflects the fleeting interest that these Gods had with Tess, and that her struggle was merely a pastime. Moreover, the contrast in significance between “Gods” and “Tess” demonstrates her vulnerability. It is clear that Tess’s tragic journey was something she was ‘doomed to receive’; but the bildungsroman is written in such a way that the reader is left wondering whether the course of Tess’s life would have changed had she not been treated ‘so monstrously’ by the ‘cruel, cruel’ men she met along the way. Alec, the archetypal seducer in Victorian melodrama, after his violation of Tess’ virginity, doesn’t realise his sin. The fact he doesn’t realise his sin shows how Hardy presents the idea of sin of males to females and how they differ under this society. What’s more he blames Tess for tempting him with her beauty and she, as a consequence, is paying...
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