30 Day Challenge: Day 6

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

DAY 6 - BOOK THAT MAKES YOU SAD

 

Choosing the author for this category was a total no-brainer.  Step aside, Leo Tolstoy.  Move over, Emily Bronte.  Not even close, Messrs Zola and Flaubert.  Thomas Hardy, come on down!

 
Yep, this is the guy who has cornered the market in books that make you sad.  He is the poster child for authors who kick their characters while they’re down, prod them with a pointy stick, and then kick them a little bit more just because they can.
 
So choosing the author was easy, but choosing the book was a little more tricky.  We’ve got Jude the Obscure – the guy’s kids hang themselves because 'we are too menny’. Or how about The Mayor of Casterbridge – guy gets drunk and sells his wife and child (that is so not gonna end well).  Maybe Far from the Madding Crowd – there’s murder, incarceration in a mad-house, agonizing death in childbirth, and cliff-diving sheep, but it has a vaguely happy ending, so nope to that one.
 
Which leaves us with Tess of the d'Urbervilles.  Out of all of Hardy's novels, Tess is the one which truly makes me sad.  Nearly all his other protagonists bring their misfortune on themselves through their own actions.  But Tess is, as Hardy says 'a pure woman'.  Her downfall is due to the actions of others, and he uses her story to point an accusing finger at the Victorian double standards of the time.
 
Tess is raped by Alec d'Urberville, and has his child, which soon dies.  She thinks she has found happiness with Angel Clare but he abandons her on their wedding night.  Destitute, she returns to Alec d'Urberville as his mistress.  She murders him in desperation, and spends a few blissful days with Angel Clare before being arrested, imprisoned, and eventually hanged. 
 
If there was a category in this challenge for ‘character who you hate the most in the whole world and who you hope will die a horrible, painful lingering death’, I would have no hesitation in nominating Angel Clare, the sanctimonious, two-faced hypocritical bastard who confesses to Tess that he had a relationship with a older woman before he met her, but who then abandons Tess when he finds out she was seduced by Alec Durberville.  And then the git has the nerve to walk off into the sunset with Tess's younger sister.  God, I hate him. 
 
Spoiler alert: I am a complete Thomas Hardy fangirl and this is not his last appearance in this challenge.  (Yeah we know, dummy.  We read your blog – Ed).