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Compare and contrast the depictions of financial insecurity and its effects in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and at least one other novel that you have studied.

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Introduction

Victorian Novels often explore the pressures exerted on characters and social structures by lack of money. Compare and contrast the depictions of financial insecurity and its effects in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and at least one other novel that you have studied. Financial insecurity is a major theme in both Tess of the D'Urbervilles and in The Mill on the Floss with the consequences of it severe in both cases. In the former it causes the protagonist of the novel, Tess, to seek help from her wealthy ancestors - causing the tragedy of the story to unfold - and in the later, it results ultimately in the death of Mr Tulliver and the pressures on family relations that ensue. The differences in the depiction of financial insecurity in both novels are, at times, obvious, yet each book successfully portrays the financial struggles of the characters as having a significant impact on their lives. In both plots, the family is thrown into economic ruin by key events; these act as catalysts for future hardships and give the reader an idea of how quickly one can descend into a life of poverty. However, whilst the effects of this financial descent may be depicted as equally devastating in both novels, the attitude to it is often very different. ...read more.

Middle

In The Mill on the Floss the issue of finance hangs on two events rather than on one as in Tess of the D'Urbervilles with the death of Prince. In the former book Mr Tulliver is firstly involved in an argument with Mrs Glegg about Tom's education and this results in him promising to reimburse the five hundred pounds she lent him. Secondly he becomes involved in a lawsuit against Mr Pivart over waterpower.This he loses and is subsequently bankrupt. The two events are linked in a cruel fashion as in order to repay the loan, Mr Tulliver must go outside his family structure and borrow the money from a client of Lawyer Wakem - the man representing Mr Pivart in the case. When compared to Tess of the D'Urbervilles, the way in which this financial insecurity is depicted has important differences. There is a sense that, unlike the Durbeyfields, the Tullivers are economically stable at the opening of the novel. This is enhanced when we look at the socio-economic differences portrayed in the landscape - the Tullivers live at Dorlcote Mill, a secure establishment providing a regular income. When this is compared to other areas such as Basset (where the Mosses live) ...read more.

Conclusion

Relations among the Dodsons also suffer. Mrs Glegg, on hearing of Tulliver's bankruptcy, now has the ammunition with which to launch a damning attack. She blames Tulliver entirely and criticises Mrs Tulliver for having married him and allowing herself to enter into this situation. The bankruptcy has tainted the Dodson family name and in a society where status is everything, this will not do. Mrs Tulliver even begins to blame her husband and is dramatically pessimistic about their future: "we shall be beggars...we must to the workhouse." In Tess of the D'Urbervilles, the conflicts that arise are not within the family but are with the new people that Tess meets in trying to ease the financial problems - Alec and Angel. Financial insecurity and its consequences are key to the plotline of both novels - in Mill because it acts as a catalyst for changing relations and in Tess because it maps out Tess's life and introduces her to the people and places that will shape it for the worst. However, as we have seen, there are significant differences in the portrayal of these financial predicaments and, whilst there is no difference in their importance in comparison to each other, they offer a different outlook into the effects that poverty has in the Victorian age and the attitude taken to combat it. ...read more.

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