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To what extent are the outcomes of 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' and Anouilh's 'Antigone' attributable in each case to the personality of the heroine?

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Introduction

A comparative essay of 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' and 'Antigone' To what extent are the outcomes of 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' and Anouilh's 'Antigone' attributable in each case to the personality of the heroine? Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Antigone are both about a female protagonist, an eponymous heroine, who commits a crime and is then led to her unjustly death. Tess was written in 1891 by Thomas Hardy, set in Hardy's Wessex whereas although Anouilh's "Antigone" was written in 1951 it has no set period, as an up-dated version of the original Greek play by Sophocles. The novel and play were written around sixty years apart and are of completely different genres yet are similar in the fact that both texts follow the fortunes and misfortunes of their heroines. Although there are many noticeable similarities between the two characters of Tess and Antigone, there are several distinct differences between them as Anouilh uses a chorus to narrate the story in Antigone, Hardy uses authorial intervention to discuss the inevitability and pre-destined events in Tess's life. This essay is to assess how much the personalities of the heroines of each story contribute to their outcome. "Tess" tells the story of the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that he and his family may be descendants of the ancient family of d'Urberville. Tess is sent off in search of work at the d'Urberville mansion where she encounters Alec d'Urberville who later seduces her, and she bears his child who dies in infancy. Working as a dairymaid, she falls in love with and marries Angel Clare, a clergyman's son. On their wedding night, she confesses her seduction to Angel who cruelly abandons her and after many hardships, she returns to Alec as his mistress. When the reluctant Clare returns to find Tess with Alec he prepares to leave once more, and in desperation, Tess stabs Alec and kills him. ...read more.

Middle

Tess is too proud, independent and unforgiving of herself. It is noticeable that at the end of Phase the First, he interrupts in the narrative passing judgement asking where Tess' guardian Angel was and why had Angel not danced with Tess, causing the reader to believe that fate had intervened and caused Tess misery. When discussing the fate of Tess, Hardy begins with claiming that Tess holds a little responsibility briefly, but Hardy then goes on to use certain techniques which cause Tess to appear helpless. An example of authorial intervention is at the end of chapter fifty, when Hardy writes "So do flux and reflux - the rhythm of change - alternate and persist in everything under the sky", his mention of fate intervenes within the narrative displaying the thoughts on how Tess cannot escape her destiny. Although Tess cannot be held responsible for her behaviour, Tess, in many ways makes her outcome worse. For example, Tess was too proud to create a scene, which could have caused Angel to stay. She could have refused her mother to go and work for Alec d'Urberville but goes out of guilt over the death of the family horse. She should have followed the advice of her mother and not told Angel of her loss of purity which would have lead to them leading a long, prosperous life together. Due to Tess' pride, view of morality and independence she feels that she must always to the right thing whether it is to her advantage or not. Tess constantly berates herself thinking that all of her misfortunes are down to her and is constantly living with guilt. Omens, both literal and literary, including obvious examples of the d'Urberville coach, the crowing of the cockerel on Tess and Angel's wedding day, the death of Prince and the way Tess is marked from the beginning by a red ribbon. ...read more.

Conclusion

Antigone seems to want to die as she instantly declines Creon's offer of help. Antigone seems to feel that she doesn't live up to other people's expectations and that her family expects more of her. Due to this belief, her personality contributes greatly to the occurrence of her untimely death as she think she must die in order to serve justice towards her brother. This is ironic, as the novel "Tess" is much more similar to Greek tragedy in its approach to misfortune whereas "Antigone" is more modern when confronting tragic issues even though its based upon the Greek play by Sophocles. In conclusion, I think that the personalities of the eponymous heroines contributed intensely to their outcome as in the case of Tess, she was too proud to make Angel to stay so she had to return to Alec, and in desperation ended up murdering him. Whereas in the case of Antigone, she defied an edict laid down by the king in belief that she was doing the right thing and even when offered a way out, she refused out of pride, proving she was willing to die for what she believed in. If these characters weren't so proud or independent, then it is most likely that neither of them would have had to face death so early on. If Tess hadn't been so proud, she might never have needed to tell Angel of her seduction and so could have lived a long happy life with him. If Antigone hadn't had been so haughty in the thought that she must die for burying her brother, instead of being willing to brush it under the carpet she could have lived a contented life with her fianc�e. Overall, I think that although the characters had their differences, the traits in their personalities of being too proud definitely caused their downfall. Joanna Lowe Page 1 5/4/2007 ...read more.

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