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Word Count: 1,777
Tess A Pure Woman There are many different ways that the purity of Tess can be examined These range from scrutinising her actions the way that Hardy characterises her to the way that he contrasts her to the other characters in the novel In the Victorian context in which Hardy was writing it is rare for such a common and rural character to be shown as pure Hardy seems to acknowledge this and self-consciously pits Tess against the society that has wronged her so much it is this that makes the question of whether or not she is a pure woman such a crucial question in the novel A crucial area in which Tesss purity is discussed is in the infamous rape scene It is debatable whether this is rape or consensual sex Hardy deliberately leaves an element of ambiguity in this passage Due to changing attitudes towards sex what would have been seen as sensationally graphic in Hardys time seems to leave many questions unanswered for a modern reader Between pages 70 and 72 there are many examples of Tess not wanting to be alone with Alec He settled the matter by clasping his arm round her as he desired and the mention of the druggists bottle also suggest that Alec was preparing Tess for the rape If these quotes do mean that Tess was raped the novel fits in with the literary convention of the fallen woman There is an argument however that claims that Tess was not raped This argument centres mainly around the fast that Tess was wearing her summer dress and with hindsight blames herself I should so loathe and hate myself for my weakness as I do now Tess herself rebuts the argument around her dress on page 72 Twas very warm when I started and I didnt know I was going to ride and that it would be night As far as this
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