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Tess of the D’Urbervilles


Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D’Urbervilles
average rating is 4 out of 5

Classics, Romance

R. Alex Jenkins

Brilliant books get better with every read, while lesser works of art start to fade on further inspection. Tess of the D'Urbervilles leans to the latter because of how reserved it is, although it's still a brilliant read.

Tess tore up my emotions when I first completed it, wrenching my heart because of its profound message, but the stifled emotional expressions between characters are far too censured and inexpressive for true satisfaction. Characters are unable to show their emotions or true feelings due to antiquated social restraints, therefore causing unnecessary pain and suffering for potential lovers who are unable to release, adapt or adjust.

This is a bit like a distraught Juliet being forced into marrying Paris while already committed to Romeo. Women were unable to stand up for themselves, and I totally get that, and men had pride, respect and propriety to think about, but it makes for hard and frustrating reading at times.

Tess rarely allows you to rejoice or be happy, but overly twists, complicates and frustrates emotions. It does a great job of incarcerating your heart in its vice-like grip of appropriateness and unacceptable social standards, but it's also too withdrawn and emotionally bleak at times for its own good. Not all books can be happy ever after with it all working out in the end, but Tess self-inflicts too much unnecessary unhappiness through social decorum, which doesn't feel alive or realistic enough in modern times.

Most definitely worth a read, recommended for its passion, depth and sincerity, but ultimately more frustrating than it should be to make it into a top classic.

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