Tess – Ticky-Squeak Example

When Tess is raped, her life is taken in an entirely different direction. Alec forces himself upon Tess when she is asleep, showing how passive she is. While this happens, we are told that “upon her eyelashes there lingered tears”. Hardy uses a degree of ambiguity here – if Tess was asleep, she could not have been conscious of what was happening. The fact that she cries suggests that she was aware of what was happening. From this moment, though, Tess’s life spins out of control. Immediately following the rape, Tess becomes aware that she is pregnant with Alec’s child. We are told that when she returns to Marlott that she sits “at the back of the church” to avoid the judgment of the village. Tess is unable to mix due to her condition, and she would be scorned as a “fallen woman”. This shame comes as a result of Alec’s crime, and is the first in the chain of tragedies to follow. Both of these points reinforce the significance of the rape, in terms of showing Tess’s passivity, and the terrible consequences that come as a result.