On Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles

By subtitling his great novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles “A Pure Woman,” Thomas Hardy made the then radical claim that the victims of rape retain their purity.  Tess’s is a heart-breaking tale, but a wonderfully inspiring one.  The novel speaks to the determination and power of the human will to survive, to the trials of women in Victorian society, to the dialectics of virtue and vice, to the ambiguities of moral dilemmas and ethical issues, and to the paradoxically blind and illuminating nature of love.


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