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I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.

Reading progress update: I've read 24%.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles, a Pure Woman - Thomas Hardy

Well, I now see why some members of the Classics discussion group aren't enjoying this book very much. When I first started it, I was very amused by Tess' parents, but now, I'm just disgusted by them. I can't believe their lack of sympathy for their daughter's situation.

When Tess tells her mother about how she was raped by Alec d'Urbervilles, her mother basically tells her that she should have encouraged him more and taken advantage of the situation so that it would end in marriage. Then, when the baby that results from this atrocity falls ill, her father refuses to allow Tess to call for the parson so he can baptize the baby. He accuses Tess of bringing shame upon the family and withholds the child's baptism as punishment.

(show spoiler)

Tess is the only person in the book so far who seems to have any common sense and I think it's terrible that she's surrounded by idiots. 

 

However, all of this has made me love Tess herself even more than I did at the beginning. She's such a strong individual. I think that the tragedies that she's encountered have made her brave. I have friends who've had kids outside of marriage and I know that they've faced lots of prejudice from some judgmental people, and that's happened to them even though they're fortunate enough to a society with much looser morals than the one that Tess lives in. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for her to hold her head high and try to continue living in her home as she does, when her neighbors all look down on her for her circumstances and her family blames her for not being more proactive in obtaining a loveless marriage to a scumbag like Alec. Tess continues to live her life with her head held high, despite the lack of support from her family and friends. 

 

I really like that Thomas Hardy had the guts to write a story like this in Victorian Era England. I love that he wrote a story like this and is actually sympathetic to the rape victim / unwed mother. Few men of that time would have the same attitude that he did and I think it's really admirable that he chose to write a novel that highlights these issues. So while I've turned against Tess' parents, I'm still definitely enjoying the book and I'm so glad that I'm reading it.