The Analysis of Angel Clare’s Tragedy in Tess of The D’urbervilles
关键词：托马斯•哈代 悲剧 安琪尔•克莱尔
Abstract: Literature is a mirror of real life which can reflect all aspects of people’s lives. More and more scholars have begun to study a country from the roots of economy, politics and culture. As early as ancient Greece, there were some creations of tragedy. Tragedy is a kind of literary creation, which is not a simple artistic form or technique but the repeat of real society. It can depict the piteous, sad, distressing and sentimental plots by describing some tortuous or complicated events. The British famous writer Thomas Hardy was one of the excellent novelists of the Victorian age. He delineated a lot of characters of tragedies, showing various persons’ enchantment. Besides providing the dignity of life tragedy to the readers, the novels contains the profound rationalism of the writer and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles reflected his real society. Hardy succeeded in portraying the image of heroine Tess and revealing the hypocritical ethics and morals of bourgeois society. This paper will d
iscuss the causes of Clare’s tragedy from the hero –Angel Clare’s social background and psychology.
Key words: Thomas Hardy, tragedy, Angel Clare
Literature is not only an art but also a mirror of real life. When studying a literary work, scholars actually study history. Nowadays an increasing number of scholars have begun to study the history of a country’s economic, political and cultural forms from the perspective of literature because through different kinds of literary works, we can see all sorts of feelings such as joy, anger, sorrow and various truths. The manifestation of literature is manifold, one of which is tragedy. The writers often want to show the piteous, sad, distressing and sentimental plots by describing some tortuous or complicated events. In the tragedy, it is inevitable that the heroes or heroines should suffer a setback or disadvantage, cover themselves in dishonor, experience tribulation or even fail or die though they have reasonable motivation, wishes, ideal, or passion which may indicate a victory or success. But finally they will either die or get mad. With a bad ending, tragedy often contains a certain philosophy of life
. There are lots of tragedies in western literature such as Oedipus, Prometheus Bound, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, Faust, etc. And the famous tragedians are also legion like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Shakespeare, etc –Thomas Hardy for one. He was a prolific and excellent writer, publishing fourteen novels and four volumes of short stories. His works were noted for the intense tragic spirit and sense of fortune, from which we can feel the atmosphere of tragedy brought by fortune deeply.
“Tess of the D’urbervilles” is one of the Hardy’s tragedies, a masterpiece which brought him into a number of literary critics notice. It reflected the writer’s real society and its social system and morals; therefore studying this novel can help us to know about the history of his age. But many papers showed that most of critics used to research the writing background from the tragedy of Tess. Many scholars have always put emphasis on the tragedy of Tess for a long time. Only a few scholars made researches for the tragedy of its hero Angel Clare. He was a contradictory unity –he was bold in struggling with the traditional view but in the meantime he could not break the shackles of feudal ideas. This paper will see the society from this perspective –Angel Clare, the hero’s tragedy and discuss the causes of Clare’s tragedy from his social background and psychology.
Chapter2 A brief account of Tess of The D’urbervilles
It seems that the fictional works do not concern with the real world. But we know that before the writers begin to create their works, it can be said that their social experience may be their primary material for creation. Some writers created the roles and environments in order to revolt against the worldly prejudice of their ages. These kinds of words are expected to tell people the truth of a society. In many cases, the social background of the novel is the writer’s background. Before analyzing the roots of Clare’s tragedy, this paper will discuss two aspects of this novel, namely “the writing background” and “the writer and his works” from which we can see the background of this novel.
2.1 The writing background
Thomas Hardy was the last important novelist of the Victoria ages. The Victorian age was an age of realism rather than of romanticism –a realism which strives to tell the whole truth showing moral and physical diseases as they are. Victorian literature, in general, truthfully represented the reality and spirit of this age which was the great age of the English novel—realistic, thickly plotted, crowded with characters, and long. Hardy, who also shown the truth of this age had a high place in Western literature which came from the agitation of life and fatalism of human being. His tragedies in the history of Western literature were no an accident for the tragedy consciousness. Hardy’s tragic novels has sprung from and developed this tragic idea in form and connotation. The tragedy consciousness in Hardy’s novels originated from Western traditional tragic spirit which was full of rationalism and profound reflection on the contradictions of human society. And it also revealed an ineluctable and inevitable cond
itionality of fate. That is to say, the heroes or heroines would slip into the tragic path of life in the end in Western literature no matter whether they liked or not, or where they hided. Tragedy was their final arrangement.
Thomas Hardy studied Greek tragedies and Shakespearean tragedies all his life. And he was deeply influenced by Schopenhauer’s tragedy consciousness. Schopenhauer was a famous philosopher who believed that life was a tragedy –life was filled with desire. If a person had a desire but could not gain his desires, he would feel painful; however, when he could gain his desires, he would become insipid. This was another torment. Schopenhauer grouped tragedy into three types: the tragedy caused by those who committed heinous crimes, the tragedy led by the irony of fate and the tragedy caused by misunderstanding and distrust between persons in everyday life. In his opinion, the last tragedy was the most terrible one which we can see in Hardy’s works. Hardy began to creating the novels in the early 1870s. In the late 1890s, he turned to write poetry. The Britain in this period was undergoing a transition period from laisser-faire capitalism to imperialism. The capitalism thought that the social system of this period
could not be changed. But Hardy’s works exactly clashed with it, which reflected the tremendous changes of society due to the invasion of industrial capital to the village. With one remark he had ripped away the mask of British society.
2.2 The writer Thomas Hardy and his work
Literature is reflection of life. Almost all writers created their novels according to his social background. We can see many literary works written on the basis of their ages. They wanted to bring out the social facts by their works. It should be such a free way that they could rebuke the dark society. People can feel the society of the writers from their works and then identified with the writers. The writers hoped that they could let the people know the dark aspects of the government and then fine an echo from them by their works. To some extent, a novel should be a history. From the introduction of Thomas Hardy and the main content of Tess of The D’urbervilles must be helpful to show us the background of Clare’s tragedy.
2.1.1 About the writer –Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy (1840～1928）, born in 1840 near Dorchester, was a famous British poet and novelist. He carried forward and developed the literary traditions of the Victorian age. He vividly and truthfully described the tragic plots in his works. The critics of literature called him “Shakespeare of British novels”. Hardy was born into an architect’s family and was expected to become an architect. He trained as an architect and worked in London and Dorset for ten years. Hardy began his writing career as a novelist, publishing Desperate Remedies in 1871, and was soon successful enough to leave the field of architecture for writing.
Hardy was pessimistic in his view of life. The dominant theme of his novels is the futility of man’s effort to struggle against cruel and unintelligible fate, chance, and circumstances, which are all predestined by the Immanent Will. He bravely challenged many of the sexual and religious conventions of the Victorian age. And he exposed the hypocritical morals, laws and religions of capital. Hardy’s works reflected the tremendous changes and people’s miserable lives especially the women’s lives in social economic, politics, morals, custom, etc after the invasion of industrial capital to the British villages. Moreover, where we see Hardy's real mastery is the difference in the language of people from the social classes (e.g. the Clare’s in contrast with the farm workers’). He was good at viewing life with a tragic light. “Tess of The D’urbervilles” was his masterpiece which was noted by lots of critics of different periods.
2.1.2 The main content of Tess of The D’urbervilles
Tess of The D’urbervilles came into conflict with Victorian morality. In this novel, Hardy reaches the height of his achievement as a novelist. Like most other Hardy novels, rural life is a prominent issue in the story. And the issue of fate versus freedom of action is another important aspect of this novel. It tells of that a village girl called Tess who was a beautiful, pure, plain, honest, assiduous and clever went through a miserable life. She was born in a poor family and lived in a peculiar society. The son of the D’urbervilles Alec raped her and she was pregnant. She fell in love with Angel Clare before long. Clare loved her very much and longed to marry her but she delayed to answer this offer of marriage just because she did not know how to tell the truth of being raped. Despite this, at last this kindhearted and sincere girl decided to tell him this bad thing. However, when Tess told him the truth that she was raped by a knave Alec, he could not forgive her for having another man’s child even tho
ugh she forgave him everything. Angel Clare became very angry and abandons Tess. One day she found Alec became a minister. After her father’s death unexpectedly, Tess had the burden of the family welfare on her shoulders, and they were shortly thereafter evicted from their cottage. She believes deep down that Angel had abandoned her, and Alec said it as well, and Tess knew her family would do well by Alec’s wealth and property. But to her surprised, Angel returns from Brazil, repenting his harshness, but found her living with Alec. Tess kills Alec in desperation, she was arrested and hanged. She makes him promise to marry her sister, Liza Lu, after her death, which he agrees to do.
In Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy has directly satirized nature. This novel revealed the tragedy of common people’s destiny and flayed hypocritical gentlemen and morals. In this novel, Hardy demonstrated his deep sense of moral sympathy for England's lower classes, particularly for women. He succeeded in portraying an artistic image –a village girl with kindness, tenderness and amorousness. The novel, which indicated the tendency of anti-religious sentiments, against feudal morality and the laws of capitalists, was warmly received by the reading public though British upper class was bitter against it.
Chapter3 The origins of Angel Clare’s tragedy
Tragedy can also be a vision of life, which is shared by most Western cultures and having its roots. The essence of tragedy is almost the same thought different writers create the stories from different points of view and with different techniques. A number of critics had many kinds of interpretations for Angel Clare’s tragedy in Tess of The D’urbervilles. They analyzed his complicated character from different perspectives. This paper will explain his tragedy as the following aspects:
3.1 Social roots
Here social roots refer mainly to the social conventions and moral standards which led to Clare’s tragedy. Clare lived in such conditions which the masculine authority played an important role in traditional society. Angel Clare was one of the victims of this society. At that age, women were regarded as being subordinate in the household. The chastity for them is the most important thing. The traditional view on chastity considered a woman’s chastity as the prerogative of her husband. If the women lost her virtue, she must be immoral. On the one hand the male made the moral standards for the female, demanding of the female to be pure and virginal; on the other hand, the male indulged himself in sexual matters. They demanded that the most magnanimous act the female had should be chastity; nevertheless, those who broke the women’s chastity were the males themselves. That is to say, only the males in that society were right. The female could say nothing for his wrong. So Tess asking Clare “Forgive me as you a
re forgiven! I forgive you. Angel” (Hardy, 1993) would become the impossibility. [论文网 Www.LunWenData.Com]
Under such circumstances, after Tess lost her virginity, she should be Alec’s concubine or make their relationship legalized according to the social bad habits of the time. But Tess, who pursued her innocent love, had rather be “a lady of easy virtue”. In the literature, there was a set form for the images of women, namely, women should be beautiful and virtuous, gentle and biddable, and should cleave to his husband and families. All these sets are related to the real society. Traditionally, a woman must obey her husband like his wretched slave. The description about this age given by Hardy was just the society whose “social morals” had manifested mainly in “chastity” that centered on men. Even if a man of that age was bold in challenging the old system, it was impossible for him to abandon the social morals. In addition, a large part of people around him were still controlled by feudal ideas, so the social roots should be the direct cause of Clare’s tragedy.
3.2 Psychological roots
A person’s way of seeing things plays an important role all his life. Hardy naming his hero “Angel” might have his own intent. We know that Angel should be pure; however, from the development of the plot, we can not see “pure” from Angel Clare. Angel Clare was born in a rich pastoral family, but he was unwilling to obey his father and brothers. He did not abide by the old custom and etiquette, and gave a damn for the superior of material things such as wealth and position. He was born and bred the religion. But he thought that he could not honestly be ordained a minister as his brothers were. He took up a disdainful position on the social customs and found the value of working people. He abandoned the chance of studying in university and went to the countryside and to study the agricultural skills. This is sufficient to show that he was bold in struggling with the traditional view and tried to show off the shackles of the class. At the newly-married night, Tess decided to tell him her “guilt” in detail. An
gel fell out with Tess and then went to Brazil alone though he had lived a loose life with a woman who was not acquainted with him. He could not forgive Tess her “guilt”. The so-called “pure” in his mind was so ingrained that he could not accept Tess’s past. He considers her as a "fallen women".
Clare was also such a man with a ridiculous point that a man could have affair with many girls but a girl must keep to be a virgin before she become a bride. It showed his cowardice in his character. Tess trusted him and made a decision to confide her secret to him. But on the night of their wedding, when Clare learned that Tess was not a virgin and had had a bastard, the original perfect image was suddenly broken by the sad facts. Apparently he said he was deeply attached to Tess, but actually he could not face the truth with courage. He just loved Tess’s pleasing appearance rather than any other things of her. Angel Clare was more or less an open-minded bourgeois intellectual. In love, although he was not as despicable as Alec, he was devoid of selfless and sincere feeling as Tess did. Clare loved Tess just because of her beauty. And she could become his right hand in the future.He told Tess: “I repeat, the woman I have been loving is not you. Another woman in your shape.”(Hardy, 1993) He could not belie
ve this bad truthe and said “Tess! Say it is not true! No, it is not true!” It is clear that he took a deadly knock psychologically. Clare’s character determined his tragedy –he could not accept her past.
It is clear that the seeds of tragedy are sown when all the rigid rule of his forebear and the unfair social systems firmly laid hold of Angel Clare, who had preached the liberation of mankind no longer exists. When Clare finally realized the immensity of Tess’s love and the piteous plight it had brought upon her, everything was too late. He could not completely get rid of social conventions and moral standards. Tess would go away forever. It was Clare’s tragedy –the social system and morality and his character decided that it could be inevitable.
Literature has come very close to daily life, reflecting its practical problems and interests and is used as a powerful instrument of human progress. Literature originates from life and then reforms life. They can make you subconsciously and deeply believe that all the things they described really happened. After you finish reading, the characters that it depicted will appear vividly in front of you. They are true to life—— you can see their faces and feel their sound, pace and thoughts. With the excellent literary works, we can feel the history vividly. As an important part of literature, tragedy has showed its artistic attraction. The reason why a great number of readers tend to be affected by the plots of tragedies is that some of them had the same or similar experience with the characters in the novels.
The western tragedies put emphasis on the soul-stirring spirit from the fear. The strong tragedies can touch the heart of the readers. The modern western tragedies represented the life style of modern westerners. They have some characteristics of modern lives and consciousness. Studying on the masterpieces of an age can help a lot for studying its history. Thomas Hardy was born in Victorian age. The novel in this age became the most widely read, the most vital and challenging expression of progressive thought. Although writing from different points of view and with different techniques, the writers of this age shared one thing in common, that is, they were all concerned about the fate of the common people. In Hardy’s works, man is also shown inevitably bound by his own inherent nature and hereditary characteristics which prompt him to go and search for some specific happiness or success and set him in conflict with the environment. He vividly portrayed different characters of tragedy. Tess of the D’urbervi
lles was one of his masterpieces. The conflicts between the traditional and the modern, between the old rural value of respectability and honesty can be clearly seen in this novel and it is not difficult to see the roots of this tragedy either from Tess or Clare. This paper analyzed Clare’s tragedy and described the roots of tragedy in this process. A wonderful description is just a part of a novel, but only those things which can strike deep into the minds of the people will be remembered by them. From the tragedy of Angel Clare, we can see the dark of a society again.
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