Tess of the d"Urbervilles is a novel that reflects values of nineteenth century England, specifically during the Victorian Age. Thomas Hardy effectively utilizes descriptive language, symbolism, imagery and structure to convey these values. .
The values presented in this novel still exist today but the time period in which the novel was written clearly shows through. For example, the emphasis placed on Tess's innocence and virginity borders on the extreme. Angel wants Tess because he believes she is pure- when he discovers her past, he cannot accept her. .
Hardy explores the idea of morality in relationships and the notion of a "good woman". When Angel reveals his former sexual relationships, Tess instantly forgives him but when the situation is reversed, Angel cannot cope with her past with Alec. Quote Pg. 271: " O Tess, forgiveness does not apply to the case! You were one person; now you are another how can forgiveness meet such a grotesque-prestidigitation as that!" Tess is shunned when she has a baby out of wedlock yet Alec continues his life without complications. These double standards were acceptable in the 19th century but Hardy appears to criticize the way Tess is treated. Ultimately, it is the severe Victorian moral code and its bias against women that causes Tess's downfall. The Victorians were known for their strict moral code, based on their interpretation of the meaning of the Bible. Most people were churchgoers and few dared to behave in a way that was not approved by the Church of England. British society had little tolerance for anyone who acted in a way that was different.
Christian values and beliefs remain strong throughout the novel. Tess herself has an intuitive spirituality as Angel describes her (Pg. 205): " She lives what paper poets only write and she is an unimpeachable Christian." An example of the Christian Tess is occurs when she baptizes her baby herself. Hardy creates a powerful scene (Pg.