How the purity and sin are combined in the author’s perspective of the main heroine in T. Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles?
Although Hardy’s portrayal of Tess as a ‘fallen woman’ is somewhat sympathetic, due to the fact he frequently takes on the perspective of Tess, he ultimately still views the idea of the ‘fallen woman’ as tragic. He presents Tess as a virtuous victim and therefore a tragic heroine through the use of color imagery and emphasizes her purity when he describes her as ‘the white muslin figure’ (p.73) just before Alec rapes her at the end of phase the first. This means the reader is left in no doubt that Tess is innocent and has been seduced by Alec. Hardy depicts Tess as a woman who suffers from her fall but still finds the strength to rise above her situation. However, he also shows that the repercussions of her fall are lasting. Although Tess attempts to start a new life with Angel Clare, she can never completely escape from her past with Alec D’Urberville. When Tess tells Angel of her rape, she is devastated to learn that he, like most Victorian men, views her as corrupted and tainted. Angel states ‘Forgiveness does not apply to the case! You were one person; now you are another… the woman I have been loving is not you… another woman in your shape’.