Notes on Tess of the d'Urbervilles Themes

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles Topic Tracking: Fatalism

Chapter 4

Fatalism 1: Fatalism is an important part of the story because it is what perpetuates the action. The decisions that Tess makes and the things that happen to her in the beginning of the novel begin a domino effect that cannot be reversed. Her fate is already chosen and all she can do is live through the events that happen to her. The first view of fatalism is when Joan believes that she has read Tess's fate in an astrological book. According to the book, Tess is going to marry a gentleman. It sounds like a happy fate, and it turns out to be true, but Tess marries a gentleman that makes her life miserable, and she doesn't marry him until every chance for happiness seems to have passed her by.

Fatalism 2: Tess presents for the first time her view that the world she lives in is spoiled and rotten. This is a continuing view for Tess, especially in light of the events that unfold in her life.

Chapter 5

Fatalism 3: The author often incorporates fatalistic speeches into the text, and this is the first time we see that happen. He points out that this moment, the meeting of Tess and Alec, has set into motion events that cannot be changed.

Chapter 11

Fatalism 4: When Tess is seduced, it is only one event fulfilling the sad destiny set into motion when she and Alec met on her first visit to Tantridge. It is meant to be, good or bad. Unfortunately for Tess, it's mostly bad.

Chapter 12

Fatalism 5: Tess's mother takes a fatalistic view of what has happened to Tess. Instead of being upset that her daughter was taken advantage of, Joan seems to think that it was meant to happen, so they should just make the best of the situation and move on.

Chapter 24

Fatalism 6: Tess realizes that her love for Angel and his love for her is inevitable. She decides that there is little she can do to stop it, so she is going to quit standing in the way of it (or at least try not to).

Chapter 34

Fatalism 7: Tess believes that things between she and Angel will be okay because his history is the same as hers, but what she doesn't realize is that telling him about Alec is going to change her relationship with Angel forever, and she will not be able to change it back to the way it was when they were so happy together.

Chapter 46

Fatalism 8: Tess tells Alec that she doesn't feel that her prayers move God because He already has His plans made and what she wants makes no difference because she is not important enough for Him to change them.

Chapter 55

Fatalism 9: Tess has given up on happiness, love, and Angel and seems to feel that her life can continue without her seeming to be an active participant. She is going through the motions of living, letting her body do what it was destined to do without bringing her emotions or her soul into it. She is hollowed by what she has endured, but her fate must be fulfilled, so she continues living without feeling.

Chapter 58

Fatalism 10: Tess accepts what's going to happen to her as the natural end to the events that started when she went to Tantridge so long ago. Her joy is that she and Angel were reunited, if only briefly, and that he loves her again. Everything else that has happened to her, no matter how unfair, fades away in light of that love. Because of this feeling, she gives Angel to her younger sister, knowing that they will make each other happy because she is the best aspects of Tess that he loved so well.

Chapter 59

Fatalism 11: Tess's life has reached its fated end, and no one outside of her family and Angel are any the wiser or at all affected. Her small life, so tangled and tortured, is over and the world remains unchanged. Her story was only a small one, significant on a small scale, and she was a plaything for God, and nothing more really. Even Angel and Liza Lu will go on without her. So Tess and her d'Urberville heritage lived her life for very little purpose in the grand scheme of things.

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