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In the novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, the protagonist and victim is a young woman named Tess Durbeyfield. She is a well-educated, yet she is quite naive. Unfortunately, her inexperience with how the world works and men and her naivety would lead her to make a few wrong choices as fate would have it. This essay will be examining the role of fate and destiny and why is it played such an important role in the novel and how it led to Tess’s downfall.
Starting from the beginning of the novel, Tess receives ‘the short end of the stick’ in every scene that she is in. She is one of many girls who do not get to dance with the strange young man, who is later revealed to be Angel. Although, they exchange glances at one another, he runs off into the night without a word between them. This is the reader’s first glimpse of Tess, and even now the author inquires that her family is not well off and that her father seems to be unable to stop himself from drinking constantly
“He’s tired, that’s all,” she said hastily, “and he has got a lift home, because our own horse has to rest to-day.” “Bless thy simplicity, Tess,” said her companions. “He’s got his market-nitch. Haw-haw!” “Look here; I won’t walk another inch with you, if you say any jokes about him!” Tess cried, and the colour upon her cheeks spread over her face and neck. ” (Pg.7)
The quote is describing how Tess is shamed, rather playfully by her fellow female companions about her father’s drinking habits. However, she takes them to heart, thus indicating her naivety and inexperience with the world. Ironically, it was her father that encouraged Tess to go to the d’Urbervilles for help in the chapters to come. This being said, her father is partially responsible for his daughter’s fate.
In the later chapters, after Prince, the family horse was killed, Tess blames herself. When she is informed of the potential familial relations between her family and the d’Urbervilles and if she went to them and asked them for help, they could help them. She says:
“Well, as I killed the horse, Mother”, she said mournfully, “I suppose I ought to do something. I don’t mind going and seeing her, but you must leave it to me about asking for help. And don’t go thinking about making a match for me, it is silly.” (Pg. 25).
When at the d’Urbervilles’ house, Alec first harasses Tess when they go horseback riding, forcing her to let him kiss her. After that, another event occurs that shows the vulnerability and innocence of Tess. The event is written about with a air that could make fate seem a definite cause for the actions against her well being.
” One may, indeed, admit the possibility of a retribution lurking in the present catastrophe. Doubtless some of Tess d’Urberville’s mailed ancestors rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of their time. But though to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children may be a morality good enough for divinities, it is scorned by average human nature; and it therefore does not mend the matter.” (Pg. 58)
It seems as though fate has a cruel twisted sense of humor as this quote shows that it was not because of Tess’s actions that this outrageous cruelty occurred to her, rather it was a form of payback for the wrongdoings of her ancestors. This can be viewed as a form of fate, for it was determined Tess was born or any of her immediate family that somewhere in the lineage of the d┬╣Urbervilles, there must be a type of retribution that will occur for past crimes.
Fate, along with tragic irony play a large part in this novel. As stated before, some events are out of our control and cannot be prevented by any amount of planning. It seems hard to believe that all of this could happen to one purpose without there being a purpose.

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