Explore how Hardy presents Alec D'Urberville
In Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Alec is perceived to be the villain as he is the catalyst for the destruction of Tess's life after he rapes her. Even though certain acts convey Alec as a villainous character, others suggest Alec is not wholly evil in the novel.
The first presentation of Alec the reader receives is when Tess travels to Trantridge to claim kin after the death of the family horse, Prince. The description of Alec's appearance upon his first arrival in the novel is rather appealing to the reader, but before any description of his appearance, the reader is given an automatic feeling of threat by this character as he firstly appears ...view middle of the document...
Throughout the novel, Alec is very well spoken which also suggest that he is well educated “Very kind of your mother, I’m sure. And I for one don’t regret her step”. His dialogue and sentence length is also lengthy and being presented as well educated means the reader interprets Alec as a figure of superiority, as being educated well in the Victorian era often meant that one was of high social class and was deemed superior to those who lacked education.
Alec's forceful nature becomes apparent in the scene where Alec insists on feeding strawberries to Tess by hand in the garden, but Tess would rather feed them to herself. Alec's forceful nature is now emphasised: “Nonsense! He insisted; and in a slight distress she parted her lips and took it in”, feeding her by hand even though she made it clear she was against the idea. Strawberries symbolise religious connotations as Alec is perceived to be the serpent from The Garden of Eden and them being red suggests he is dangerous.
Suspicions about Alec's character really arise when Tess has received a letter stating that she has been given a job to work for Mrs D'Urberville on her little fowl-farm. Hardy adds that “Mrs D'Urberville's handwriting seemed rather masculine” suggesting that the letter was actually written by Alec, which it was. This gives out the impression that Alec is sneaky and devious.
The real villain in Alec is really brought to the attention of the reader when Hardy mirrors him as the serpent who seduced Eve in The Garden of Eden, as he similarly seduces Tess in The Chase (natural setting is similar to The Garden of Eden) which takes away her purity (sex before marriage in the Victorian era was considered to be an act of impurity). This is the catalyst for downfall of events in Tess’s life in the novel which leads the reader to detest Alec. There is also evidence to support that Alec is shameless “I was born bad, and I have lived bad, and I shall die bad, in all probability”. This quote makes the reader feel that Alec is too evil and wicked beyond belief.
It could be argued that Alec is not all bad. Certain events in the novel show Alec in a good light. For example, when Car Darch wants to fight Tess, Alec appears to save her. Initially, it feels to the reader that Alec is trying to do good by saving Tess, “Having heard their voices while yet some way off he had ridden creepingly forward, and learnt enough to satisfy himself”. On the other hand,...