The Analysis of Angel Clare’s Tragedy in Tess of the D’urbervilles

Topics: Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Morality, Tragedy Pages: 5 (1646 words) Published: December 4, 2008
In Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy has directly satirized nature. This novel revealed the tragedy of common people’s destiny and flayed hypocritical gentlemen and morals. In this novel, Hardy demonstrated his deep sense of moral sympathy for England's lower classes, particularly for women. He succeeded in portraying an artistic image –a village girl with kindness, tenderness and amorousness. The novel, which indicated the tendency of anti-religious sentiments, against feudal morality and the laws of capitalists, was warmly received by the reading public though British upper class was bitter against it.

Chapter3 The origins of Angel Clare’s tragedy

Tragedy can also be a vision of life, which is shared by most Western cultures and having its roots. The essence of tragedy is almost the same thought different writers create the stories from different points of view and with different techniques. A number of critics had many kinds of interpretations for Angel Clare’s tragedy in Tess of The D’urbervilles. They analyzed his complicated character from different perspectives. This paper will explain his tragedy as the following aspects:

3.1 Social roots

Here social roots refer mainly to the social conventions and moral standards which led to Clare’s tragedy. Clare lived in such conditions which the masculine authority played an important role in traditional society. Angel Clare was one of the victims of this society. At that age, women were regarded as being subordinate in the household. The chastity for them is the most important thing. The traditional view on chastity considered a woman’s chastity as the prerogative of her husband. If the women lost her virtue, she must be immoral. On the one hand the male made the moral standards for the female, demanding of the female to be pure and virginal; on the other hand, the male indulged himself in sexual matters. They demanded that the most magnanimous act the female had should be chastity; nevertheless, those who broke the women’s chastity were the males themselves. That is to say, only the males in that society were right. The female could say nothing for his wrong. So Tess asking Clare “Forgive me as you a re forgiven! I forgive you. Angel” (Hardy, 1993) would become the impossibility.

Under such circumstances, after Tess lost her virginity, she should be Alec’s concubine or make their relationship legalized according to the social bad habits of the time. But Tess, who pursued her innocent love, had rather be “a lady of easy virtue”. In the literature, there was a set form for the images of women, namely, women should be beautiful and virtuous, gentle and biddable, and should cleave to his husband and families. All these sets are related to the real society. Traditionally, a woman must obey her husband like his wretched slave. The description about this age given by Hardy was just the society whose “social morals” had manifested mainly in “chastity” that centered on men. Even if a man of that age was bold in challenging the old system, it was impossible for him to abandon the social morals. In addition, a large part of people around him were still controlled by feudal ideas, so the social roots should be the direct cause of Clare’s tragedy.

3.2 Psychological roots

A person’s way of seeing things plays an important role all his life. Hardy naming his hero “Angel” might have his own intent. We know that Angel should be pure; however, from the development of the plot, we can not see “pure” from Angel Clare. Angel Clare was born in a rich pastoral family, but he was unwilling to obey his father and brothers. He did not abide by the old custom and etiquette, and gave a damn for the superior of material things such as wealth and position. He was born and bred the religion. But he thought that he could not honestly be ordained a minister as his brothers were. He took up a disdainful position on the social customs and found the...

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