It doesn’t.

Obviously I couldn’t stay away, and came back with tissues in hand for part two. They were much needed. As much as written descriptions make me sad I simply can’t bear to see someone cry on screen, especially a man.

I can’t imagine ever having that many horrible things happen to one in such a short span–it really makes you admire her courage to carry on in life, trying to keep her head up. One man takes her body, and another her heart, and only a soul with strength such as hers would be able to continue. For me, the straw that breaks the camel’s back is when she loses her shoes, though of couse worse is yet to come.

I’m mad at Angel Clare, and yet I can’t hate him. It’s hard for us modern readers/viewers to really understand what society was like back then, how irrevocably scandalous it was for a woman to become pregnant outside of marriage, regardless of the circumstances. Certainly he was mistaken in declaring that she was not the woman he thought he knew and loved, and in not forgiving her when she forgave his equal mistake. Certainly he was unjust to send her away from him in such a fashion, though he could not know what would befall her. And yet, and yet, deep down I think he saw this as penance for himself as well, for violating the ideals instilled in him by his parents. It’s especially clear to me when he tells his parents afterwards that she is “spotless;” I want to scream at him to go to her, but I think perhaps his pride is still smarting at this point.  This version showed his torment well, especially at the end, though I would have liked to see the scene where he sleepwalks.

Similarly, I tried to find some redemption for Alec d’Urberville. He does offer marriage to Tess, and provides for her family but this is all with the ultimate purpose of “being her master.” When praising her he references only her physical attributes, and even resorts to threats; this is not love, but obsession.

It was interesting to note the film’s use of sexuality as a contrast–the natural tenderness between Tess and Angel, which she seeks out, and the sinister, mechanical way that Alec forces himself upon her. I also liked some of the other symbols, such as the new dresses, and the crows, and the irony that Alec rides a white horse.

I still wonder if, ultimately, it was worth it. When Angel finally finds her Tess says that it is too late, for she is already dead inside. Certainly a future that revolves around being Alec’s mistress is bleak indeed. Would I be willing to face death for the chance at a few days’ happiness with my true husband? Accordng to Izz, for Tess the choice is an easy one. She is almost a martyr in the name of love and purity, and I wish I was half the person she is.

Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 10:41 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] complicated characters, a reaction only heightened by watching the adaptation (thoughts here and here, but plenty of spoilers as well). Having read all I could about Tess means that I went into The […]

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