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The of Power and Desire in Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Introduction

Examine the theme if Power and the desire in particular reference to the relationship of Tess and Alec. In Tess of The D'Urbervilles Hardy uses the theme of power to explore the different relationships within his society especially that of men and women . He illustrates how in a predominantly male dominated society , men hold economic and social power over women in different forms whether consciously or not. Hardy also considers how desire can play an important part in influencing power, considering a that a person's desire , such as Alec's , can drive them to exert or even force their power on others . The relationship of Alec and Tess best exemplifies the themes of power and desire. From the beginning of their meeting Hardy hint's at Alec's desire for Tess and how he uses his well off position to establish his power over her. Alec is described as having a ''swarthy complexion'' , to a Victorian reader his darker skin not only underlined a barbaric nature but also a demanding sexual appetite. Tess's '' luxuriance of aspect'' and '' fullness of growth'' cause Alec's eyes to ''rivet themselves on her''', Hardy choice of words distinctly signal that Alec's attraction is of a physical and sensual kind. ...read more.

Middle

Mrs D'Urberville in her invalid state, as well as Tess in her position as a servant find themselves ''unavoidably dependant '' on Alec, the patriarch of the house. Hardy uses subtle image of the poultry cottage to suggest Tess's new position. The cottage had the ''aspect of a ruined tower'' , this conjures ideas of imprisonment or the image of the fair maiden locked in a tower. This sense of confinement if further enhanced by the high walls that surround the garden and the use of the word ''regime'' to describe her new post, which suggest a form of rule or government. Hardy is subtly implying that Tess is a prisoner in Alec's kingdom, where he possesses power over her and others. This image creates an ominous and foreboding tone that marks Tess as a possible victim and highlights her precarious situation. The event at The Chase epitomises the triumph of Alec's power and fulfilment of his desire , whether through rape or seduction he manages to dominate Tess and in a way break her spirit. Hardy exposes the existence of a double standard in his society between men and women. Alec's position as a man and a wealthy landowner puts him out of reach of social stigma , meanwhile Tess as a woman and the victim has to suffer the consequences and social prejudice for the loss of her virginity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus, her identity and experiences are suppressed, albeit unknowingly by his idealisation of her. This idea of male power and authority is also exemplified in the Durbeyfield house hold. Tess's mother asks John to assert his control as head of the family ''Durbeyfield, you can settle it''. He as Tess's father has the power to prevent the catastrophe yet, apart from a slight objection founded on his pride and not on the concern for his daughter , he takes on a passive role becoming partially responsible for his daughter's misery. It seems Hardy whishes to point out that power is not always held by those who can put it to good use, which is the case of Alec and to a lesser extent Angel. Hardy illustrates how power can be used in varying degrees to influence or force others whether done knowingly or not . Un checked desire can fuel the wish to control and overpower, like in Alec's case, and mislead impressions can result in the imposition of one's ideas on other , as Angel does. With the visible consequences of these errors in Tess , Hardy brings out the importance of how power is exerted and that ideally it should be used for good. Through the theme of desire Hardy also conveys that sexual desire should not define the purity of a personality or person, as in the case of Tess. ...read more.

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