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CarolC
12-23-2011, 07:11 PM
After Tess was captured at Stonehenge, wouldn't that mean Angel could be charged as an accessory?

In fact, how would the trial carry out for Tess?

kev67
06-22-2012, 06:15 PM
You would think he could be charged for aiding and abetting a criminal and that he might be arrested and charged. I don't suppose he would be given the circumstances.

Tess was hanged :cryin:

kev67
06-25-2012, 01:23 PM
There are several other unseen moments in the book. What exactly happened at The Chase and for several weeks afterwards? What exactly did Tess confess to Angel on their wedding night, presumably the same thing. What did Tess repeat to Alec that made him lose his faith so quickly?

I wonder why Hardy left these bits out. Was it because Victorian sensibilities prevented them from being published? Did he deliberately leave them for readers to ponder on and work out for themselves? Perhaps Hardy did not think it was actually important whether Tess was raped or seduced, or raped first but consented other times, or that it mattered exactly what Angel's religious convictions were.

Maple
11-25-2012, 02:04 PM
There is so much that Hardy describes in painstaking explicitness in his novels most readers had to be puzzled by the occasional absence of explicitness in critical plot developments, such as the Chase scene seduction, Tess and Alec's fatal last words and so on.

A simple answer with some merit is that Hardy wanted his readers to think through the emotional staging of these events for themselves. In the seduction scene, for example, we have Tess who is virginal, innocent and unsophisticated yet also womanly, flirtatious and undoubtedly percolating with her body's natural sexual urges. If Hardy had explicitly described the event as if Tess was forcibly taken, readers might've been blinded to some of Tess's emotions.

In the murder, we can safely assume Tess tells Alec Angel has returned and Alec, wishing to keep Tess, responds by denigrating Angel as unworthy of her. This would have enraged Tess, but she has other deeper feelings as well. If Alec is comparing himself favorably to Angel, Tess would have also compared the two and found Angel vastly superior, not just to Alec but herself (Tess is attracted to that superiority in Angel largely relating to his higher level in ethical evolution). We can also theorize that Tess, as a pure woman, cannot tolerate having both a "natural" husband in Alec and a legal-spiritual husband in Angel. Her soul is adrift with Alec but it reembodies her with Angel. We also have that pesky d'Urberville trait of violence resurfacing.

If Hardy had made explicit what was going on in Tess's mind, would we have pondered her mind as rigorously? If the primary purpose of the novel is to drive home the novel's social message to his readers, does he do that better with explicitness or ambiguity? We can say Hardy put his bet on ambiguity.

kelby_lake
11-25-2012, 04:04 PM
It was partly because of censorship/Victorian sensibilities: Hardy could never have portrayed a rape but then again he could never have convinced his readership that Tess was temporarily blinded by Alec and he tricked her. Either way would have been impossible, so the reader has to lay their bets.

I think in the serialised version, Alec drugs her.

kev67
11-25-2012, 06:01 PM
It was partly because of censorship/Victorian sensibilities: Hardy could never have portrayed a rape but then again he could never have convinced his readership that Tess was temporarily blinded by Alec and he tricked her. Either way would have been impossible, so the reader has to lay their bets.

I think in the serialised version, Alec drugs her.

No, but he could have made it clearer whether she was raped with violence, raped by being taken advantage of while asleep, surrendered in a weak moment, or was seduced but then regretted it. It is also not clear whether Tess only had sex with Alec the once before returning home. She didn't return home for several weeks. I think the reason it was left unclear was that Hardy did not want her judged by how hard she struggled against the rape or whether it was only the one time. The important points were that she had not wanted to lose her virginity to Alec, had deeply regretted it, and had not had sex with anyone else in the years until she met Angel. I doubt Alec did use violence or the threat of violence, because that does not seem to be his style. Instead he is unrelentingly persistent. Alec still deserves blame because he knew when he had sex with her that she did not really want to.

I think Hardy also wrote another version in which Tess and Alec were married in a sham wedding by a friend of Alec's dressed up as a vicar.

kelby_lake
11-25-2012, 06:20 PM
I think the reason it was left unclear was that Hardy did not want her judged by how hard she struggled against the rape or whether it was only the one time. The important points were that she had not wanted to lose her virginity to Alec, had deeply regretted it, and had not had sex with anyone else in the years until she met Angel.

I agree.

Maple
11-26-2012, 08:58 PM
Kev, you're right about the sham wedding Alec arranged to mollify Tess's concerns about being Alec's unsanctioned sex partner.

As to what really happened in the seduction scene, it's reasonable to think Hardy probably wanted to leave it without providing the explicit answers you and many others want. So, the question is why did Hardy want it this way? Several of the possible answers include (1) Victorians didn't want it explicit, (2) in reality, what happened couldn't be simplified into a this or that, forced or consensual, and (3) the ruined maid plot needs vagueness to keep readers interested.

#1, we know Hardy was compelled by his publisher to revise his manuscript to suit popular sensitivities. But, the final version most of us read was published twenty years later when Hardy had a freer hand. The several revisions made over the course of twenty years to his manuscripts show he dropped explicating descriptions in favor of leaving things with less or no description. For example, the shame wedding between Alec and Tess clarified matters, but Hardy removed it. Also, Joan's complicity in sending Tess to sex with Alec was dropped. The tide of his revisions is to leave ever more interpretation to readers.

#2, everything looks a lot simpler from a distance than when one is involved and close. Hardy is fascinated by motives and Tess's motives are complex and conflicted. It's likely, but not certain, Hardy envisioned the seduction as a complex event. I think Hardy wants readers to consider the fullest range of possibilities.

#3, Tess's basic plot is a trite melodrama. To make the story a classic requires some genius. Part of the means to accomplish this masterpiece is occasional ambiguity on critical issues. We know it works because so many readers over the years, including us, have been driven to ponder and discuss these ambiguous points for over a century.

kelby_lake
11-27-2012, 07:26 AM
I think it's probably a combo of the three, although the ruined maid plot would still be interesting even if it was clear whether it was a seduction or rape. Maybe Hardy felt that portraying the scene in detail would make it titillating rather than tragic.