Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Brace yourselves. A hate review is coming.


I’m not kidding. I hated Tess of the d’Urbervilles. But it’s the kind of hate that makes me want to finish the book just so I can continue to loathe everything the characters do just that much longer.

This is no superficial hate either. Gah, I can hardly write this summary with out getting angry:

Tess is a beautiful young girl in a rural English family, but due to their financial situation she must visit their rich kin for help. While there, she meets a predator of a cousin who becomes obsessed with her. Long story short, he rapes her while taking her home. She gets pregnant, the baby gets sick, dies. This woman cannot catch a break at all, so she leaves town and gets a job as a milk maid, falls in love and gets married. Happy ending right? You’d think that. WRONG. When the husband finds out about her past (because while she had tried over and over to tell him, he refused to her about her “faults” until after the wedding) he runs away to Brazil because he is so disgusted.


Except maybe Tess. There are times when I’d get frustrated with her for not standing up for herself, but who knows how I would handle her situation?

Look up SKEEZY in the dictionary and Tess of the d’Urbervilles is the definition. Seriously. Alec d’Urberville gets to just go his merry little way and become a priest and be absolved. He even comes back later in the book and resumes torturing Tess AND blames her for his evil perversions because she’s so goddamn gorgeous he can’t help himself. BOOFUCKINGHOO. He tells her to put her veil back on because her lips are too red, her something like that. He stalks her at work, begs her to go away with him even though she’s already married, and he’s a pastor! Meanwhile, her employer encourages her to run away with this creepy bastard, and her friends, who know she’s already married look on.

Look up VICTIM BLAMING in the dictionary, and Tess of d’Urbervilles is there too. Her mother is the biggest culprit. She all but shames Tess out of town. Telling her to keep quiet about what happened, because she got herself into this mess. Meanwhile, Tess is flabbergasted as to why no one ever told her that men could be that way, that she had to watch out for evil bastards like Alec. The guilt follows her all her life, so much so that when she meets her husband, she constantly feels the need to tell him about her past, but knows as soon as she does the relationship will be over. Right up until the wedding she tries to tell him, and then he starts telling her “No, I want to hear nothing until after we are married that will ruin my ideal of the beautiful you.” And then, when she finally does, what does he do but FREAK THE HELL OUT. Of course he does. He freaks the hell out all the way to Brazil, even so much as to invite one of her best friends to go with him. See also, above, where predator Alec blames her for her own rape. Just, GROSS.

The other thing that really bothered me is that the book doesn’t even TELL us what happened to her, or the conversation with her husband. It’s censored. It skipped from Alec coming up on her asleep in the woods to Tess having a sick baby. The only clue was the chapter titles, one about her being a maiden, and the next was “Maiden No More.” I had to wiki it just to find out if I was right! And we don’t actually know what she told Angel Clare (husband) so Tess could have completely blamed herself (it would have been in her character’s guilty conscience profile to do so), but since we have no context…who knows?

And then the ending. Well. Of course I hated it. It’s not that I thought it should have ended happily (although it kind of does in a twisted way) but it was just exactly the wrong kind of ending.

OH! One last thing. Alec KNOWS Angel’s father! Mr. Clare is an extremely religious man. The entire damn time Alec is ranting about how he converted to priesthood, he’s talking about Mr. Clare and how he brought him to God and made him see the errors of his ways. I’m over here jumping and waving like heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey! At some point, the connection has to be made, right? Alec is going to talk to his friend Mr. Clare about Tess, and he’s going to realize this gigantic rapist he helped save is the one who ruined his daughter-in-law, right? And he’ll tell his son? NOPE. What a waste of a Kevin Bacon 7 degrees connection. What was the point of it? If you’re going to throw in something like that, USE IT.


Ok. Rant over. I think I’ve exhausted everything I can from this book. That was fun though. What’s next?


Fulfills Boxall’s #90


One thought on “Tess of the d’Urbervilles

  1. ewwwwwwwwwwww w.w.w.w.w. And, the worst part of it is you just know the author knew people who were like that in real life. Got treated like that in real life. Thought like that in real life. Not a bad social commentary for 1891 though, makes you think quite a bit about our “progressive” contemporary society’s judgementalism on the one side, and turning a blind eye on the other.

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