Control In Tess Essay

1030 words - 5 pages

Control is the social construction constituting exercising authority/dominance over other beings. It can take many forms, the most prominent of which between Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer being emotional, capitalist and patriarchal. Both novels are of the Bildungsroman genre, with protagonists progressing through their lives, however whilst Jean-Baptiste Grenouille seems to have a predatory and psychotic personality, this is something to which Tess Durbeyfield is subject without reciprocity until the end of the novel, and ultimately it is this hamartia which leads to her oppression.

After the tragic death of Prince, Tess is subject to immense guilt, and ...view middle of the document...

It is therefore possible to see parallels between Alec and Grenouille, both sinking to primitive levels of sensation – at the loss of sight, and under isolation, Alec ‘stoops down to her cheek’ and uses the unconscious sense of smell to prey on Tess. Nonetheless, just like Grenouille, he cannot make people love him. He can only force people into acts out of regret and guilt.
Moreover, ironically, the actual concept of Tess’ seductive beauty is prescribed to her. She has no control over it– she is controlled by the ultimate puppeteer: Thomas Hardy. His description of Tess is extremely erotic, and from a Marxist feminist perspective, ‘he derives an almost sadistic pleasure from Tess’ suffering, that he shares in part the distorted views of her held by both Alec and Angel, and that he in some sense does violate her with his male voice and male eye’ [3]. Interestingly then, it may be possible to see relationships between Hardy and Grenouille himself – both are egotistical in their view of women and describe them as sexual objects.

Alec uses his capitalist power to control Tess through guilt by giving material rewards to her family, most significantly, replacing the horse. ‘It is this homeless despair of a family which has lost its rights and independence in the village community, that gives Tess finally into the invader’s power’ [1] Tess’ oppression is highlighted through similar mediums as in the rape scene - often environmental, including spatial positioning. This is ironic because the historical context of the novel is the transition from pastoral society as part of the industrial revolution, and as a consequence, this is reflected within Tess. ‘It was a hazy sunrise in August’ suggests that rather than being clear, her mind is full of uncertainty. Furthermore, ‘the sun had a look demanding masculinity’ reflects how Tess has been damaged by Alec, the hellish antagonist of the novel. ‘The denser nocturnal vapours’ suggest echoes of the rape scene, and the image of how they attack the warm ‘beams’ illustrate diminution Tess feels. Moreover, ‘The...

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