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Thread: Confusion as to why Angel reacted the way he did

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Confusion as to why Angel reacted the way he did

    Thomas Hardy does not write what Tess told Angel on their wedding night, and it is sort of confusing why he reacted quite so badly. I think it has to be because Tess had a short affair with Alec d'Urberville, or at least consented to have sex with him for several weeks after the initial rape or seduction. In the first edition of the book, Alec drugs her before raping her. Surely Angel could not comdemn Tess for that. Even Leviticus says only the man should be stoned if a woman is raped in the countryside where there is no one to hear. In following editions it is not clear whether Alec raped Tess, but if he did not, he still he took advantage of her when her defences were down, knowing she did not really want to sleep with him. Readers have spent so much time wondering whether Alec raped or seduced Tess that they do not take in what happened afterwards. In the chapter after the rape or seduction, Tess walks back home, but it is several weeks later. Alec catches up with her and tries to persuade her to come back. In the later editions Tess says she was only dazed by him for a while. Alec has given her family a horse. Tess felt very guilty for the death of Prince, the family horse, who was killed in a collision with the mail coach after she fell asleep at the reins. So it may be Tess slept with Alec after her initial rape or seduction to get the horse that her family desperately needed. There was also the incident when Angel hits a man who recognises Tess and says she is no maid. That does imply Tess was having sex with Alec for a while. Alec confesses to Tess on his wedding night that he had 48 hours of dissipation with a woman. Tess confessing that she had been raped or had submitted to a sex pest in a weak moment would surely not have been enough for Angel to have that extreme reaction. However, if Tess told him she continued to have sex with Alec for several weeks in order to get a horse for her family, that does not sound so good. Not saying Angel should not have been more understanding. I just think Hardy did not show clearly enough that Tess had consented to have sex with Alec for several weeks, so it is confusing when Angel reacts in such an unforgiving and hypocritical way. I think this is compounded because for 130 years readers have been wondering whether Tess was raped or seduced in the Chase and how much that made a difference.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I donīt remember all the details, kev, but Tessīrelationship to Alec is a very ambiguous one. She was indeed seduced or raped, but what the novel implies is that she feels attracted to him and she hates that and she hates herself for it. I think that is what makes her feel so guilty and what finally makes her kill him, the power the man has over her and I donīt mean the material but the sensual power.

    On the other hand, there is Angel, a minister with very rigid principles, who learns on his wedding night, that his new wife isnīt what he thought her to be. It needs a very bad spell of malaria or yellow fever in Brazil (poor Paraná!) to generate a more generous attitude towards Tess.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Couldnīt edit the post above

    "kev- However, if Tess told him she continued to have sex with Alec for several weeks in order to get a horse for her family, that does not sound so good. Not saying Angel should not have been more understanding. I just think Hardy did not show clearly enough that Tess had consented to have sex with Alec for several weeks, so it is confusing when Angel reacts in such an unforgiving and hypocritical way."

    Oh no, Tess wouldnīt sleep with Alec for the sake of a horse. She wasnīt a prostitute, and things were very far from being clear to her. The awakening of the female desire together with the feeling of guilt is only implied. I think Alec was prompted by his own feeling of guilt. He felt he owned her family a sort of compensation. To the family on the other hand it probably wasnīt so clear, to what extent their daughter was exposed. All these people, Tess, Alec, Tess parents appear to me to be enveloped by a diffuse very Victorian mist.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Well, she does prostitute herself again later on, in desperation, when her family was evicted from their home and had nowhere to live and no money.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    You are right, but that is much later, when she doesnīt have illusions any more. I think that first time she probably didnīt quite know what was going on.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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