Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Who is the narrator in Tess of the dUrbervilles?


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Tess of the dUrbervilles tells the story of a girl who is seduced and has a child who dies. When she meets another man whom she wants to marry, she is unable to tell bun about her past until after their wedding. Her husband abandons her, and Tess is driven by despair into the arms of her former seducer. When her husband returns, Tess kills the man she is living with. Hardy uses a third-person (he/she) narrator with an omniscient (all-knowing) point of view to tell Tess's story. Thus the narrator not only describes the characters but reveal their thoughts. Hardy also uses his power as narrator to offer his philosophical insights on the action. The novels closing paragraph, which begins Justice was done, and the President of the Immortals, in Aeschylean phrase, had ended his sport with Tess is a good example of how Hardy comments on the action. Some critics believe the novel would have been better if Hardy could have remained silent and let the actions of the characters tell the story. At several spots in the novel, Hardy's narrator loses his omniscient ability and comments on the story through the eyes of a storyteller of local history. For example, when he tells the story of Tess and Angel's first meeting, when Angel chooses another girl to dance with him, the narrator says he does not know the lucky girl's name. "The name of the eclipsing girl, whatever it was, has not been handed down," he notes.