Law of Cause and Effect in Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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      If we read the character of Tess minutely we can see and we find that all her sufferings are of her own seeking. The first remarkable event in the life of Tess is her driving the horse carriage to the neighboring town. Unfortunately, the horse which is the only support of the family dies in the accident and this is the beginning of the troubles of Tess. The tragic atmosphere after the death of the horse is a pointer to the cause of the death of the Prince. Tess drives the carriage a bit carelessly because she is lost in her thoughts. A sudden jerk shakes her in her seat and this awakens Tess. She finds that the shaft of the post carriage coming from the opposite direction pierces into the heart of the horse. The horse keeps standing for some time then it collapses. Tess feels that she is the cause of this tragedy. As a consequence of this tragic happening, Tess has to go to Trantridge. She meets the seducer Alec there. Here Hardy seems to suggest that her seducer is responsible for the wrong that she finds herself in. Really the chain of cause and effect is only apparent. It is the inner fate of Tess which is working through the events of the life of Tess.

      The life of Tess at Talbothays is very interesting. She falls in love with Angel Clare. Her impulsive nature knows no restraints. Hardy shows how fate is directing them towards her tragic fate. She tries to reveal her past to Angel Clare. The letter that she drops into the room of Angel goes under the carpet and he gets no chance to read the letter. Had he read the letter before the marriage perhaps the story might have taken some other course. Even if Tess had the courage of concealing the past history as suggested by her mother, the outcome of the story could have been quite different. But again it was the fate of Tess that was working into a direction which was quite ruinous for her.

      Tess is the creature of the environments in which she has to live and grow. The house in which she has been brought up has very low morality. Her parents are not very virtuous. Then about her physical features, everyone knows that she has followed the features of her mother. Hardy explains this point himself “But for the slight cautiousness of character inherited from her race that is just necessary to allow the touch of animalism in her flesh to respond to great external pressure.”

      Then again towards the end of the novel, we have strange meeting between Tess and Alec. Deserted by her husband facing great financial difficulties Tess comes to see the parents of Angel Clare. As ill-luck would have it, she does not meet the parents of Angel and goes back disappointed. On the way back to Flintcomb-Ash she hears a parson whose voice seems to be quite familiar. It is Alec who has turned a parson after he has become disappointed in love affair with Tess. As soon as he sees Tess the former passionateness once again returns to him. He gives up the religious pretensions and once again becomes the pursuer of Tess. The meetings of Alec with Tess throw a great light on the character of Tess. Again we find the same impulsiveness in Tess. She resists being once again misguided by Alec. But her weakness is her meticulous care for her family. She cannot forget the family to which she belongs. When Alec helps the family she forgets the wrong done to her by Alec and she begins to fall into the trap of Alec. Alec reaches the village of Marlott and helps the family which is in utter poverty after the death of the father of Tess. The economic degradation of the family has been particularly described by the novelist in order to show the forces that were pressing Tess to accept the things which her chaste and pure nature never wanted to accept. She has to surrender herself to the course dictated by the inexorable fate.

      In her last days she gets some joy with Angel but only to be hanged in the
end. Thus we can see how Tess is a plaything of fate. The apparent working of the law of causation is there. Essentially this is the law of causation. Thus we see that Hardy has tried to develop the point in the logical way. But this is the immanent will that works through the life of Tess.

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