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Fatalism in Thomas Hardy´s Tess of the d’Urbervilles
2002 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay shows how fatalism is expressed through the characters, their actions, beliefs and views of life and through the narrator’s comments and voice in Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles. It also shows how Fate is expressed and hinted at through chance and coincidence, nature, time, women and convention, considered “the artistic anatomy of Fate” (Elliott 56). Fatalism is a predominant theme in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. As a belief passed on from generation to generation, fatalism has a strong influence on the characters, and their views on life. Realizing that their actions and good intentions cannot lessen their suffering, and that there is no way of avoiding the predetermined order of things and events, the characters develop a strong tendency to depreciate life. In their tacit submission to the supreme power that controls the universe or in their temporary rebellion against it, they often think of suicide as a solution to their inferior condition. Due to their fatalistic views of life, they also tend to interpret different occurrences and events in their lives as ill omens that predict unhappiness and suffering and as proof of the existence of Fate. In the novel, fatalism is also expressed through the philosophical comments that Hardy, as a narrator, makes throughout the story. He comments on the most significant events in the characters’ lives, revealing his own opinions and fatalistic views on life. Hardy’s idea of Fate seems to coincide with finding something or somebody to blame for human unhappiness. Because of his concern with human unhappiness and his instinctive need to find somebody responsible for it, chance and coincidence, nature, time, women and society are some of the things he puts the blame on. Firstly, Hardy suggests that the characters’ misfortunes and unhappiness are due to a chain of malignant coincidences that are linked to each other in a deterministic way. Secondly, he suggests that Nature, as a personification of Fate, is partly responsible for people’s suffering. But Nature is not always malignant. When it signifies the natural world or the nature of things, Nature is innocent and benevolent and consequently the characters do not suffer at the hand of Nature, but because of the social rules and conventions invented by human beings. Angel is an outstanding example of how people can be ruined and oppressed by social laws, norms and prejudices. In addition, Time is also blamed for the suffering humans are subjected to because it brings oblivion, change, decay and disillusionment with the passage of years. Through Time, Hardy also points out that a single moment can be vital or fatal for one’s path in life. Finally, women, as “instruments of Fate” (Elliott) are blamed for bringing suffering and destruction to men. Due to the excellent physical qualities that Tess is endowed with, Alec is fatally attracted to her and eventually brought to ruin.

Abstract [en]

This essay shows how fatalism is expressed through the characters, their actions, beliefs and views of life and through the narrator’s comments and voice in Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles. It also shows how Fate is expressed and hinted at through chance and coincidence, nature, time, women and convention, considered “the artistic anatomy of Fate” (Elliott 56). Fatalism is a predominant theme in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. As a belief passed on from generation to generation, fatalism has a strong influence on the characters, and their views on life. Realizing that their actions and good intentions cannot lessen their suffering, and that there is no way of avoiding the predetermined order of things and events, the characters develop a strong tendency to depreciate life. In their tacit submission to the supreme power that controls the universe or in their temporary rebellion against it, they often think of suicide as a solution to their inferior condition. Due to their fatalistic views of life, they also tend to interpret different occurrences and events in their lives as ill omens that predict unhappiness and suffering and as proof of the existence of Fate. In the novel, fatalism is also expressed through the philosophical comments that Hardy, as a narrator, makes throughout the story. He comments on the most significant events in the characters’ lives, revealing his own opinions and fatalistic views on life. Hardy’s idea of Fate seems to coincide with finding something or somebody to blame for human unhappiness. Because of his concern with human unhappiness and his instinctive need to find somebody responsible for it, chance and coincidence, nature, time, women and society are some of the things he puts the blame on. Firstly, Hardy suggests that the characters’ misfortunes and unhappiness are due to a chain of malignant coincidences that are linked to each other in a deterministic way. Secondly, he suggests that Nature, as a personification of Fate, is partly responsible for people’s suffering. But Nature is not always malignant. When it signifies the natural world or the nature of things, Nature is innocent and benevolent and consequently the characters do not suffer at the hand of Nature, but because of the social rules and conventions invented by human beings. Angel is an outstanding example of how people can be ruined and oppressed by social laws, norms and prejudices. In addition, Time is also blamed for the suffering humans are subjected to because it brings oblivion, change, decay and disillusionment with the passage of years. Through Time, Hardy also points out that a single moment can be vital or fatal for one’s path in life. Finally, women, as “instruments of Fate” (Elliott) are blamed for bringing suffering and destruction to men. Due to the excellent physical qualities that Tess is endowed with, Alec is fatally attracted to her and eventually brought to ruin.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. , 22 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53686Local ID: ENG C-13OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53686DiVA: diva2:1102246
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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  • apa
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  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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Output format
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