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4.1 out of 5 stars188
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 19 reviews(4 star).Show all reviews
on March 31, 2002
This is possibly the saddest novel I have ever read. I have been thinking about it ever since I finished it. Few novels have evoked so much emotion in me. Tess makes me feel sad, frustrated, and angry.
Tess of the Durbervilles is the story of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of poor, alcoholic parents who learn that they are of a noble bloodline and send Tess off to work for her noble "cousin" Alec Durberville. While there, Alec rapes Tess and she has his illegitimate baby. This event ruins Tess's life. She is no longer pure, and virginal, and therefore brings shame upon her true love Angel Clare when her past is revealed.
It is hard to believe, in this day and age, that Tess is shamed and ostracized because she was the victim of a horrible crime. Hardy's novel is a powerful statement on the questionable morality of Victorian society. Tess, who is a heroic, brave, caring, selfless woman, is not worthy of Angel because she is somehow impure due to the rape. Angel, who has lived with a woman out of wedlock and is clearly not a virgin himself, feels justified in punishing Tess when he learns of her past.
The writing is beautiful, but the story tragic. It will stay with you a long time.
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on July 15, 2000
One of my friends recommended that I read Thomas Hardy, but she cautioned me: "Thomas Hardy isn't for everyone." I discovered while reading "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" that what she may have meant is that Thomas Hardy didn't write light works to be read and then forgotten about. Through this book, Hardy addresses issues that society in his day didn't want to face: the fate of the farm worker in the increasingly industrialized society, predjudices held against minority groups, and the inequality of women. All of this is not to say that this is a dry or boring work -- "Tess" is gripping, riveting, and almost overpowering in its emotional appeal. One cannot read this book without becoming involved in Tess's situation. I have never been so angry with a character in a book as I was with Angel Clare at a certain point in the novel. So, in conclusion, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" isn't for everyone. . . but it should be for every thinking person, everyone who isn't afraid to face issues, think deeply about them, and apply them to life.
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on January 13, 2000
The great thing about Tess of the D'Urbervilles is the poetry and the depth of the main character.
Tess is an extremely complex character and yet a very simple person. It is hard to explain her:
Hardy seems totally in emphatuated with his character. She is a thing of beauty like a beautiful flower growing on the road side. The flower knows nothing of why it is or how it grows, and so Tess is naive of her existance and surroundings only driven by the knee-jerk of her emotion, egged on and commented on the romantic and love struck Hardy.
Hardy makes a character , falls in love with her and then day-dreams about her. Guarding her innocence amd jealously defending it by - 1)making her so complex that no other character in the book can love ,know and understand her truely.
2)She ends up tragic so no one else can have her. Thus destroying her and tearing himself away from his ideal.
It is true he builds her up only to tear her down. Such a tragic figure makes the reader feel a lament amd deep sorrow for Tess having tried to fathom her whilst becoming enchanted by her.
I found all of this made the book frustrating and it flawed the main character. It is a very difficult, long and hard book to read- which would have made the book very hard to write by anyone other than a very idealistic romantic poet. 4 stars because I am a romantic fool for Tess as well.
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on November 25, 1998
I had Peglet's experience when reading this book (and "Jude the Obscure" as well). I recommend, as she does, that the reader not try to empathize with the characters; it'll make you too angry. I wanted to reach into the book and strangle Angel a few times, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has read the book.
I must point out that one reviewer has stated incorrectly that Tess was "raped." If she had been, the book would not have had the force it does. It would have just been another "victim of society" or "victim of men" book. Take a close look at Tess' confession to Angel on their wedding night.
Think of this book not as an indictment of marriage and Victorian mores (although it certainly was meant to be, as "Jude" further develops), but rather look at it as the relationships of three people who are never quite able to understand themselves and their natures well enough to avoid disaster. An excellent book. But once again, don't try to empathize with the characters.
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on October 6, 1998
Ok, the first time I too this book out of the library, I got halfway through it before I hurled it at the wall. I couldn't stand the characters and I was so mad and frustrated with them I returned it without finishing it. A month later, it was drivng me crazy not knowing how the characters fared, and I took it out and finished it. But this time, I knew how to read it: I didn't try so hard to relate to the characters, I just read their story. And I found if a fascinating study of suffering and sorrow and love and all that good stuff. So just get throught the very frustrating middle and it's good, really. Strange, gothic ending, but good. And check out the A&E movie, because it's excellent - better thatn the book, and that's weird. Perfect casting and adaptation. Ok, that's all.
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on July 9, 2002
My quirky yet brilliant English teacher assigned this work in the beginning of my senior year. Undoubtedly, I approached this book with much doubt and skepticism. If you know Hardy, you immediately recall his superfluity of detail and monotonous landscaping, which inevitably impedes character and plot development. Suprisingly, though all discouraging factors were present, I found the book exceptionally appealing. Hardy's portraiture of Tess validates him as a captivating author. He draws us into her persona, leaving us trampled and bruised with the grievances of life. He walks us through her struggles, though mangled with her inability to step forward, she still persists.
I highly reccommend this book to any avid reader of British literature.
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on October 21, 2000
I was reading this book for an assignment in English, and the images that it left in my mind will remain there for a long time. The story of Tess, a truly Pure woman, facing adversities that scare the soul out of me, is a thoughtful and saddening one.
The Norton Critical edition is particularily good, containing reviews and poems of and about Thomas Hardy, a major advantage when trying to understand the atmosphere that produced this novel.
Though the novel is heavy in description, the description is not out of place. In fact, it is essential to the storyline.
All in all, I enjoyed this book, and it made me think and reflect on the values that I believe are truly important.
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on October 29, 2001
A true joy to read, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is filled with situations that paint pictures of real life. Hardy knew that Tess' reality was filled with enough emotion and drama that there was no reason to add to it the things fairy tales are made of.
When reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles you are brought into the story by Hardy's suberb way of sketching the scene. Though Hardy's descriptive writing can sometimes be hard to digest, his choice of words allow you to enter the landscape and smell the glen yourself.
Overall, an excellent book for the more ambitious reader, and for the one who isn't afraid of the less popular unhappy outcomes.
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on March 26, 1999
Tess, a naive and young girl whose one night relationship with her cousin Alec ruins her life, is a great example of a woman in love who would do anything for her husband and nothing for herself. Tess is a great book to read. I NEED HELP AND SOON IN LESS THAN A WEEK I HAVE A TERM PAPER ON TESS DUE (THE CONSEQUENCES OF MOTHERHOOD BEFORE BEING WED IN ENGLAND IN THE 1800'S AS SEEN IN TESS) PLEASE IF YOU HAVE ANY MATERIAL THAT CAN HELP ME EMAIL IT TO ME. tHANKS IN ADVANCED!!!!!
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on June 18, 2000
This novel, contrary to some of the other comments, is a wonderful piece of literature. Although not the most uplifting, it is a great example of Hardy and Deterministic and Naturalistic fiction. Despite Tess' best efforts (like Jude in the other Hardy novel), she is unable to escape the poverty and misfourtune which she attempts to leave behind. Although somewhat lengthy, the novel is one of the better pieces of British fiction to come out of the period.
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