Thomas Hardy as a Pessimist | Tess of the D’urbervilles

Thomas Hardy as a Pessimist | Tess of the D’urbervilles


The thought that negative events will happen or that something will fail is referred to as pessimism. The worst will occur or evil will triumph over good, according to a pessimistic worldview. Thomas Hardy’s work “Tess of the D’urbervilles” is dominated by pessimism in its narrative.

Missing of harmonious order

The lack of divine command was the primary cause of Hardy’s dissatisfaction or pessimism. Tess of the D’Urbervilles lacks this harmonious order as well. Tess of the D’Urbervilles depicts a hostile universe devoid of a loving God, as does the whole universe. Human pain seems pointless in the absence of a benevolent God. Furthermore, the concept of vengeance becomes meaningless when God is gone. As a consequence, there is no reason to anticipate a favorable result. The novel emphasizes this point of view. Tess says the following verse to express her sorrow after telling Angel about her past, for example.

God is not in heaven –

All the wrong in the world!

The distinctive characteristics in Robert Browning’s poetry “Pippa Passes” are adapted in these lines. As a result, perfect order is required for the betterment of humanity.

The plight of humanity

The existence of an indifferent cosmos, or a cosmic order that does not sympathize with humanity’s tragic predicament. This makes the story’s bleak tone even more pronounced. The following song, sung by Tess and her siblings last night at their home in Marlott, reflects this idea of human fragility and loneliness in a carefree cosmos:

“Here we suffer grief and pain,

Here we meet to part again;

In Heaven, we part no more.”

Anyone who listens to this song will be saddened. Hardy, on the other hand, has sought to increase compassion among his readers from a pessimistic perspective.

Short-term happiness

Sorrow and tragedy will always outnumber happiness, according to pessimism. This pessimism is also seen in Charlotte Bronte’s book Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Short-lived moments of joy, purity, and satisfaction exist. Tess made this argument before her arrest at the conclusion of the book, paraphrasing it as follows:

“It is as it should be…Angel, I am almost glad – yes, glad! This happiness could not have lasted. It was too much!”

Hardy is a pessimist in that his pessimistic beliefs have a universal application. Because this planet is a place of an exam center, no one can deny its universality.

Depressing and comforting escapism

At the conclusion of the story, death brings an end to human pain, rather than humanity winning. This unsettling viewpoint amplifies the novel’s dark tone. Tess’ horrible tragedy concludes with her death. Tess’ son, dubbed “Sorrow,” dies tragically at the age of seven, and his death is possibly best conveyed through the phrase “the hour of liberation for that little prisoner of flesh.” Even towards the conclusion of “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” there is a sense of mystery and sadness. The final picture depicts the black, endless anguish that has been emphasized by Angel and Liza Lu’s “pale faces” and “bowed heads” as they stroll together, the “pain of sun’s rays” grinting on pitilessly.


The lack of heavenly retribution or poetic justice is the novel’s most pessimistic feature. Tess lives in a culture where vulnerable people like her are compelled to pay a price for their transgressions, while corrupt individuals like Alec are allowed to prolong their conspiratorial schemes. The wild and unjust force of life continues despite Tess’ terrible death.

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