Tess undergoes immense suffering, throughout the whole novel. This is very well displayed by Thomas Hardy’s excellent usage of language. He expertly describes Tess’s actions and language. Hardy also vividly describes what Tess feels and other people’s behaviour towards her. The very first case of suffering starts when Tess had to get up extremely early in the morning to take the hives to market. Tess had to light the lantern on the cart and drive to market. Tess was exhausted. This is the first example of physical suffering that Tess undergoes in the novel.
Tess was so tired that she actually fell asleep whilst driving the cart. Tess was woken by a sudden jerk. She realized that she had been asleep for some time and she had travelled a fair way down the road. Tess found that the cart was on the wrong side of the road, and that the cart had stopped. There was a low groaning sound coming from her horse, Prince. He had been wounded very badly and as a result of this, he later died. This is where Tess’s emotional suffering began. Tess felt very upset and felt she was entirely to blame.
Her face was described as being ‘dry and pale’ and her little bother asked ‘is he gone to heaven? ‘ Tess regarded herself a murdereress. The next case of suffering occurs when Tess meets Alec D’urberville for the first time. Tess feels out place here, as she feels inferior to him. Hardy shows this by describing Tess’s ‘sense of ludicrousness in her errand’ and he tells of how Tess is ‘in awe’ of Alec. This makes Tess feel very uncomfortable. Tess had gone to the D’urberville’s house to claim kin, as she belonged to a poor family and were seeking financial support and a better way of life.
Tess feels very uneasy and uncomfortable when facing that situation, as she thinks that Alec D’urberville will look down on her because she is of a different class to him. Tess was not too keen to go in the first instance and she was embarrassed to be telling him the reason that she had come. She tells him how she feels ‘it is so very foolish. ‘ This is another example of Tess’s emotional suffering. Following on from the first meeting, Tess had another encounter with Alec D’urberville. This next meeting occurred near the home of Tess and her family.
A cart had been sent to pick Tess up, as she was going to work for Mrs D’urberville. When the cart came for Tess, she mounted the cart that Alec had brought instead. Hardy describes how Tess ‘would have preferred the humble cart,’ as she would rather be treated like a poor woman instead of being treated as a rich lady. This indicates how humble Tess is and that she does not want to accept any special treatment from her new found kin. Tess shows pride to be who she is. Alec mounted the cart beside Tess and drove rapidly over the crest of the first hill.
Along the way, Alec showered Tess with compliments, which made her feel rather uncomfortable and slightly intimidated, such as calling her a ‘brave bouncing girl’ and ‘my beauty’. He embarrasses her by asking ‘let me put one little kiss on those holmberry lips’ Ever since the accident with her father’s horse and cart, Tess had become exceedingly timid on wheels, the least irregularity of motion startled her. Tess then began to feel rather uneasy at Alec D’urbervilles reckless driving.
Tess shows her nervousness by asking Alec questions, such as ‘You will slow down, sir, I suppose? ‘ It is here that Alec starts teasing Tess by saying things like, ‘why I always go down at full gallop’ and ‘there’s nothing like it for raising your spirits. ‘ Alec seemed to take great pleasure in making Tess feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Alec liked to tease and frighten Tess. They continued on their journey and the faster the cart bumped along, the more scared Tess became. Tess grabbed on to Alec, as she was scared that she might fall out of the cart.
When the cart had eventually slowed down and Alec mentioned to Tess that she was still holding his arm, she removed her hand immediately and felt very embarrassed. She then refused to hold onto him again. As the cart went faster, her hat blew off. Tess went to fetch her hat. She felt uneasy, and Alec was not kind to her as he found this highly amusing. Tess then refused to remount the cart and sit beside him. She told him ‘no; I shall walk. ‘ Alec replied ’tis 5 or 6 miles yet to Trantridge,’ to which Tess replied ‘I don’t care if ’tis dozens.
Alec D’urberville became very annoyed at this and started to curse and swear at Tess. Tess by now had had enough and cried out with great spirit which was unusual for Tess. She said to Alec, ‘I hate and detest you! ‘ She also threatened to return home to her mother. Upon witnessing her temper, Alec laughed at Tess, which made her feel upset and slightly embarrassed although most of all she was angry with him. The next episode of great emotional suffering happens much later on, when Tess wishes to confess to Angel of her past and wishes to confess the incident that happened with Alec D’urberville.
After her confession, Tess was brave and did not weep. She then despairs and asks Angel to forgive her. He cruelly replies, ‘you were one person; now you are another. ‘ At this, he broke into horrible laughter. This made Tess very upset as she did not know what he was thinking. He was also very harsh in saying, ‘the woman I have been loving is not you, it is another woman in your shape. ‘ Tess by now, was very distressed at Angel’s reaction and she was left in a state of suspense and confusion as he left the room.
Tess tried pleading with Angel, arguing that she was merely a child when it happened and that she knew nothing of men. Tess asked if Angel could forgive her, to which he replied that he would. However when asked by Tess if he still loved her, he did not reply. Tess then continues to argue her case, but Angel silenced her. Tess felt helpless and miserable, as she felt that Angel was being highly unreasonable. This is an example of great emotional suffering in the novel, as Tess could not help Angel’s reaction.
Another example of immense suffering occurs at Flintcomb-Ash, whilst Tess was working at the threshing machine. Hardy’s use of language here is excellent, as he vividly describes the threshing machine as a ‘red tyrant’ and a ‘cruel leader’. This displays the suffering well. Hardy also tells how the women ‘serve’ the machine. The word ‘serve’ implies that the machine somehow has control over them. Hardy tells of how the machine keeps up a ‘despotic demand upon the endurance of their muscles. ‘ This displays great physical suffering and the reader can almost picture the scene in their head.
Further on, there is also an example of the poor working conditions and the long hours which Tess had to work. This is helped by the description of a ‘hasty lunch. ‘ It emphasises the hurrying and the urgency and rush of work. It also shows that they had to eat in the dirty surroundings of the machinery. They worked in awful conditions. Another example of awful working conditions is shown, by describing how workers were stood ‘near the revolving wire cage. ‘ This is very dangerous and there were no safety guards on any of the machines.
Tess was exhausted at the end of every working day and Hardy shows this by using good descriptive phrases such as, ‘for Tess there was no respite. ‘ Hardy also uses strong adjectives in his sentences, for example, when he described Tess as being ‘too utterly exhausted to speak louder. ‘ As you can see, this novel is full of both physical and emotional suffering, throughout Tess’s whole life and these were only a few examples. I think that Hardy successfully and vividly describes Tess’s life with great emotion.