“Now All Was Contrary to Her Expectation”: Destructive Expectations in Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Keywords:expectation, destructive, flexibility, identity, relationships, Tess Durbeyfield
Up until now, scholars have not analysed the destructive role that expectations play in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. This article will therefore attend to this subject by exploring a series of relationships depicted in Thomas Hardy’s novel. To do so, this study will begin with the “fatal love” of Tess Durbeyfield and Angel Clare (Garson 130). Both individuals share confessions upon their wedding night that challenge the very foundations upon which their relationship was built. Having both held idealised perceptions of the other, Tess and Angel are forced to either adjust to these new parameters or see their relationship destroyed. Where Angel adopts a rigid inflexibility of conviction, Tess adapts her opinions and expectations, extending this behaviour to her relationship with Alec d’Urberville. In doing so, Tess is able to accommodate the changing and sometimes contradictory elements of the other characters’ identities. However, Tess fails to extend this courtesy to herself when presented with situations that she cannot control. Instead, Tess internalises perceptions of her behaviour that result in unjust opinions and unreasonable expectations of herself. Therefore, through critically examining these events and characters, this article will demonstrate how the perpetuation of rigid expectations can be detrimental to individuals and relationships alike.
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