Reading the novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, written by Thomas Hardy, I came to realize that it fits Mr. Macknight’s idea of good literature. To quote him, “Great literature does not send messages! It raises questions and explores possibilities” (MacKnight, 2018). Reading this novel I was consistently confused by the writing itself and developed new skills such as reading slowly and carefully. This led me to read deeper into the text, similarly exploring possibilities. Unlike much literature which uses flowery writing, Hardy uses his words and phrases to create greater imagery for the reader as well as enhance his metaphors. When I began to slow-read, I was able to better understand the text, however, time-consuming as it was, it led me to a greater appreciation of Hardy’s complex writing. Specifically, his metaphors were rich and full, sometimes filled with lightly tied-together ideas and other times with more obvious conclusions. This combination of simple and clandestine metaphors guided the reader into their own world of interpretation, creating further questions.
During the time the novel was published it challenged the roles of Victorian England, although continuing to provoke gender norms for men and women alike in many places around the world. The novel reminded me of a man’s role in relationships when comparing Alec to Angel. Both have extreme flaws, they fight over the women they love in completely opposite ways. In Alec’s case, he would do anything for Tess and love her unconditionally, however, he is blind to the idea of consent, which is contrary to his willingness to help Tess. Angel loves Tess and is framed in many chapters as the perfect man who challenges society’s conventions. Of course, we as readers come to realize that this is all a facade and he is very much stuck in his imaginary perfect Tess. For me, this anger which was provoked by Angel’s willingness to leave Tess was created by my recognition of the unfairness within their relationship. This same reaction occurred with Alec and Tess, only slightly disparately.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles did not only serve to raise questions. When I was immersed in writing, I enjoyed it. I felt myself imagining the world envisioned by Hardy, placing myself within it. At times the language became too complex and confused me, forcing me to interpret or even look up the word. Despite this novel’s time-consuming nature, it was difficult for me to fully enjoy the writing when given deadlines. For one with a great deal of time, this novel might have been a great read aside from its gut-wrenching plot.