Birth and Death of Sorrow in Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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      Sorrow was the illegitimate child of Tess. He was a male child who came into the world much against the wishes of his poor mother. He saw the light of this world against all the social customs of his times. He was “sorrow” the undesired, that intrusive creature, that bastard gift of shameless nature who did not respect the social law. Though the child had come into the world against his mother’s wishes, she wished to preserve him. God had granted but a very short lease of life, so he died soon to sleep in the grave well. Sorrow was born as a result of Tess’s seduction and defilement by Alec d’Urberville.

      When Sorrow was born, Tess began to work as a harvester. She suckled him even on the field in her leisure. One evening Tess returned home to discover that her child had taken seriously ill. This illness distressed her very much. The girl-mother in Tess forgot the child’s offense which he had committed by coming into the world. It was her soul’s desire to continue this offense by preserving the life of her son. In spite of this desire, Tess saw that her child’s death was coming. Now she found herself in deep misery. She felt sorry not because the child was going to die, but because he had not been baptized. She thought that her child would be deprived of salvation if he lacked baptism.

      Now Tess requested her father to send for the priest. John Durbeyfield rebuked her for this request. He locked the door and went to bed. When Fess was left alone with the dying child in her lap, she thought the child consigned to the nethermost corner of the hell, as its double doom for lack of baptism and lack of legitimacy. She imagined the Archfiend tossing him with his three-pronged fork. At this, she prayed to God to be merciful to the child.

      She said that he could heap as much anger as he wanted to upon her but he should pity the child. It was at this time that she thought of baptizing the child herself. She awoke her brothers and sisters and began to perform the ceremony herself. Holding the Prayer Book she read out and recited the holy verses. She took the holy water, sprinkled it upon her child and made a large sign of cross upon him. She baptized him in the name of Sorrow. She baptized him in the name of the Father in Heaven and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. All her brothers and sisters joined her in prayer. She was quite satisfied with this baptism.

      It was in the early hours of the morning that the poor and weak servant of God passed away. Then Tess went to the priest to ask him if he could give her child a Christian burial. The priest sympathized with her, but he could not help by giving her child a Christian burial. She requested him but in vain. When less got excited, she said to the priest that she did not like him. She would hover visit his church in future. She took the child to the churchyard herself. She buried the dead child in a corner. Thus Sorrow was born and died. The eternal time had been for him but a matter of days only. He could not and did not know such things as years and centuries.

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