To judge by Hardy’s reactions, the two expressions in Tess which caused most contemporary agitation and misunderstanding were the sub-title ‘A Pure Woman’ and the Aeschylean reference at the end: ‘“stice” was done, and the President of the Immortals … ad ended his sport with Tess.’ They are related, and they still seem to be misunderstood. Occasionally a critic writes as if Hardy believed in a malevolent Deity or Cause of Things, and more often critics write of Tess’s relations with Alec d’Urberville as if purity and innocence were irrelevant criteria.
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- 1.For the gradual ennoblement of Tess’s character by Hardy, see J. T. Laird, The Shaping of ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ (Oxford, 1975).Google Scholar