Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Review: Tess of the d'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy (part one)

I wrote this book review when I was in middle school. I publish it here for our mutual amusement. : )

back cover book blurb...

Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess is a moving novel of hypocricy and double standards. Its challenging sub-title A Pure Women infuriated critics when the book was first published in 1891, and it was condemned as immoral and pessimistic.

It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urberville. She encounters Alec d'Urberville who seduces her, and she bears his child which dies in infancy. Working as a dairymaid, she falls in love and marries Angel Clare, a clergyman's son. On their wedding night she confesses her seduction to Clare, who curelly abandons her, and after many hardships, she returns reluctantly to Alec as his mistress. When the repentant Clare returns to find Tess with Alec he prepares to leave once more, and in desperation Tess stabs Alec and kills him. After a pastoral interlude with Clare in the New Forest, the heroine's flood of anguish and despair ceases when 'The President of the Mortals...has ended his sport with Tess'. 

Alec versus Angel

“All rise the right Honourable Judge Past Judgment presiding.”

“State the case.”

“Mr. Angel Clare versus Mr. Alec d'Urberville.”

“Defense call your first witness.”

“Your honour we, of the defense, are going to prove that it is not Mr. d'Urberville who is at fault in this case but rather the person of Mr. Clare. To prove this point I shall call one witness your honour and only one. Your Honour we, of the defense, call Mr. Alec d'Urberville take the stand?”

“Will Mr. d'Urberville take the stand?”

“State your full name.”

“Alec d'Urberville.”

“Place your right hand on the Bible.”

“I swear by all mighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.”

“Now, Mr. d'Urberville do you recall the conversation that you had with a Miss Tess Durberfield the day after that fateful night?”


“Do you recall the promise that you made her?”


“Will you please state this promise the the Judge?”


“I said: 'Upon my lost soul, I won't be bad toward you again, Tess. And if certain circumstances should arise—you understand—in which you are in the least need, the least difficulty, send me one line, and you shall have by return whatever you require.'  (p. 106)

“Thank you, Mr. d'Urberville. Do you also recall the action that you took when Miss Tess Durberfield came to you broken hearted and alone?”

“I invited her into my home.”

“I submit to you, Your Honour, that these are the actions, pure and simple, of a man taken so badly with the the seductive beauty of one woman that he can not help but love her.”

“Love, ha! Lust is what it was! You should be hanged.”

“I, at least, do not hide under the disguise of a gentleman. I told her once that I was 'a damn bad fellow. I was born bad, and I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all probability.'” (p. 106) “This is far more than your cowardly voice could ever utter.”

“Mr. d'Urberville and Mr. Clare if you persist in this childish behaviour you will be found in contempt of court. Do you understand?”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Then can I gather from this that there will be no more disruptions in my court?!”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Then the defense may continue with his case.”

“Thank you, your Honour. My client, in a rude way, perhaps, has brought to light an important point. It is simply this, that he never lied to the girl. He was always quite honest with her in all respects. All that was done to Miss Tess Durberfield was done out of love and honesty. With these points well made, the defense rests. The witness is now yours my honourable associate.”

“Mr. d'Urberville is it not true that Miss Tess Durberfield did once state her puzzlement towards your supposedly honest actions in the form of this statement: 'I didn't understand your meaning till it was too late.' ?” (p. 105)

“Yes, but...”

“A simple yes or no is all that is required Mr. d'Urberville.”


“Is it not true, that this sort of behaviour has taken place before.”

“I do not understand your meaning?”

“Is it not true, Mr. d'Urberville, that you have got young maidens in the family way before?”

“I do not make a hobby of it if that is what you mean.”

“A simple yes or no.”


“Is it not true, Mr. d'Urberville, that Miss Tess Durberfield did once stat that she did not return affections in the form of this statement: 'My eyes were dazed by you for a little, and that was all.'  (p. 105)


“How did this comment make you feel Mr. d'Urberville? And may I remind you that you are under oath.”

“A little hurt that she did not return my affections. A little envious of the man she may choose to love.”

“Is it not possible such feelings could lead you to take actions that later you had cause to regret?”

“I suppose it may.”

“Could this possibly be the reason that Miss Tess Durberfield bore your child. Could you have possibly felt that the fact that she did not desire you justified your molding her life so that no man would want her?”

“Surely, your Honour can see that my client can not possibly answer such a question?”

“Your Honour, I withdraw the question.”

“Defense, have you finished presenting your case?”

Next Monday:  the prosecution states his case in the continuation of this review 

Submit here...

The Malahat Review, Canada's premier literary magazine, invites entries from Canadian, American, and overseas authors for our annual Open Season Awards. An exciting spring showcase of literary excellence, Open Season bestows a prize of $1500 in each of three marquee categories:  poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction.
quote from the Web site (link) 

Sharing my author journey...

Two truths that I discovered (or re-discovered) about writing this week...

"Makes an islander proud"
Mayne Island's fall fair 
photos by Leanne Dyck

I'd rather work on (edit) a story that's showing potential then start from scratch on a new story.

What you will write about...
The stories you will tell...
They are all pre-determined by the truths you have lived.

What is story?
Character arch (does your character change (grow) from the beginning of the story?)
Plot (situation, action, consequences)

And you? What truths have you (re) discovered recently? 


Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - I always enjoy looking at the photos you share. It makes me feel like I've been there in person!

Leanne Dyck said...

It's a pleasure sharing them with you, Laurie.