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How do Hardy and Spark present Tess and Lise as victims in the novels, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and “The Driver’s Seat”?

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Introduction

How do Hardy and Spark present Tess and Lise as victims in the novels, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" and "The Driver's Seat"? In the novels, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" and "The Driver's Seat" Tess and Lise are presented as victims of many things, mainly society, men, themselves and fate. Firstly, both women are presented as victims of societal and domestic circumstances despite their dissimilar backgrounds; Tess, on one hand, comes from a poor background in a period where women were seen as second-class citizens in comparison with men. Lise however is presented as a very isolated character due to the fact that there is no mention of family in her life. Both women are also portrayed as victims of men; Tess suffers the rape/seduction by Alec and Lise escapes rape herself on numerous occasions. In addition to this, they are both presented as victims of themselves, Tess because of her naivety, extremely passive nature and her good looks; Lise whereas is shown as having a more self-destructive nature, we see this through her search for "her type" of man. Finally we see them presented as victims of fate; Tess is constantly plagued by her past, yet Lise seems to make her own fate by searching for her killer. The narrative voices are key to both of the novels, Hardy on one hand is constantly foreshadowing Tess' future, through Hardy we also learn of Tess' thoughts and feelings as not a lot is revealed through her words, Hardy also constantly uses pathetic fallacy to express Tess' emotions. Spark has a very different narrative style, she writes from the perspective of a detached observer, unlike Hardy's omnipresence, she also is very unsure of the present but is able to tell the future of Lise. In the novel, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" Hardy presents Tess as a victim of her social and domestic circumstances. Tess is shown as a victim of domestic circumstances many times throughout the novel; an example would be when Tess' mother, Joan is trying to force Tess into claiming kinship "...You must got to her and claim kin..." ...read more.

Middle

this phrase suggests that it was obvious to everyone what Alec was going to do, yet Tess' lack of life experience means she is unaware. They ride along and Alec complains to Tess about her resistance to his advances. She realises they have gone out of their way and accuses him of treachery. Alec offers to guide her or take her home but leaves her with his horse while he goes to look for directions. When he returns he finds Tess asleep, this is when the seduction/rape takes place. Hardy constantly makes references to classical mythology, which refers to tales of sexual passion; these references serve to prepare us for the rape/seduction in The Chase. Because of the conventions of the time in which Hardy was writing in, he was unable to describe what happened between Alec and Tess. The issue was highly controversial at the time because of the moral and social implications the rape/seduction scene held, the issue of rape itself, sex before marriage and having a child out of marriage were all sensitive issues could easily prevented the publication of the novel. This means that the decision is left to the reader, I feel as though it was seduction rather than rape, I put this down to Tess' passive nature and despite Alec's forceful manner I think that Tess could have escaped the situation. By this point Tess' virginal innocence has been lost. Hardy constantly presents Tess as a victim of the incident as it troubles her future relationships and ultimately brings about her tragic end. Hardy's narrative voice becomes at its most important from here on, as he uses nature to help the reader identify with Tess' feelings of sorrow and hurt. The reader finds that the natural surroundings and the stages of the seasons are often in keeping with the events of the novel, which borders on pathetic fallacy. ...read more.

Conclusion

This makes the reader feel a concern for Lise, it makes the reader think that she is being forced into death because of her lack of family and prospects of life, the reader sees her as a victim of domestic and social issues and definitely a victim of herself, through her state of mind. So, in these two novels we can see similarities in the way Tess and Lise are presented as victims. In both novels we see Tess and Lise presented as victims of men, both experience the bad side of men, Tess through the rape/seduction from Alec and Lise narrowly escaping rape by Carlo; another similarity being the way the men are presented in these scenes, Alec and Carlo employ similar tactics to get Tess and Lise where they want them, although Carlo is more opportunist than Alec, they both have a strong desire for sex and see the women's vulnerable situation as a perfect opportunity to capitalise on it. Both Alec and Carlo take the women away from their intended destination yet in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles", unlike in "The Driver's Seat" we see the rape/seduction scene presented in a more natural and calm way. Both are presented as victims of fate, Tess constantly being foreshadowed by Hardy and Hardy always hinting at things, yet in "The driver's Seat" the fate of Lise is spelled out to the reader through Sparks' ability to tell the future yet be extremely unsure in the present. So to summarise we see both women presented as victim of many aspects of life, some are themes seen in both novels and sometimes it is shown in varying degrees, the ways they are presented as victims is through the narrative voice mainly, as with Hardy we have lots of suggestion and very little revealed through Tess' words and in Sparks we see her tell Lise's future, very little is shown through Lise's words either. ?? ?? ?? ?? Barry McManus ...read more.

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