Just finished reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the first Thomas Hardy I've ever read, will not be the last for sure. I wonder what made me to neglect this literature classic for so long. I watched movie "Tess" when I was a teenager, it somehow didn't strike me as hard as "Jane Eyre" or some other films adapted from literature masterpieces. Recently, for some obscure reasons I picked up the original book, found myself immediately drawn into the story.
Yes, it's still valid to argue, that Tess doesn't have to kill Alec. But thinking through all her life, it would be too much for her to be rational at that mind-blown moment. She has suffered too much and too long. She puts all those burdens on her slim shoulder since she was still a child, takes charge of things that her parents are responsible for. And she is raped, taken advantage by a man she doesn't love simply because she wants to help her family! And at the end, she gives herself up again to her rapist only for save her family. The painful fact is, despite her complete altruism, Tess herself thinks she is responsible for all of her troubles, and her not being "pure" is (more or less) her own fault! That's why at the end, when Angel comes back to her, she feels she loses all hope because she is sleeping with Alec again!
In my life I found, that if one is used to give, one would always give; and those who surround him/her would be so used to "take" and they would always take anything they can from him/her (I myself had been like this most of my life until I was drained to almost last blood). It seems from certain perspectives, human population can be simple divided into two categories: those who give and whose who take. Tess falls in to the first category, but by an extreme measure. More tragically, at the moment she finally gets her love - Angel Clare, he turns out a victim - or "slave", by Hardy's word - of moral tradition, cannot forgive Tess's "stained" past. All these suffering, disappointment and despair, inevitably lead Tess to her final explosion, channels all her anger into the one who she believes responsible for all her misery.
Who is culprit? It can be Alec d'Urbervilles, or her husband Angel Clare. If we go a little deeper, it can be her destitute family, her parents - her alcoholic father and her somewhat selfish mother. And if we make one step farther, it's doubtlessly social ideology, the double stance on sexual relationship. Or, ultimately, that "President of the Immortal", the fate, who "played" this brutal life game against beautiful, pure, hapless yet tenacious Tess d'Urbervilles.
It's a real tragedy: a possibly most beautiful creature ever being created then being destroyed, so unnecessary yet so UNAVOIDABLY.
Hardy was not only a master of flawless plot, but also a poet. The pastoral landscape under his pen is so amazingly alive, so humane and sometime even propitious, that in the contrast to Tess's fate, it goes beyond our comprehension, makes one ponders deeper about that mighty Providence.
What a sad, yet thrilling reading experience! But, I am glad I finally discovered Hardy. Looking forward for more of his masterpieces!
1979 film by Polanski played by Nastassja Kinski is probably indisputably the best film adaption of this classic literature. Interestingly, I always thought Kinski was perfect in this film, however, after re-watching it, I found "flaw", and once I thought not so perfect Angel Clare by Peter Firth seems perfect!