Tragedy takes the shape of many events, and influences them in a number of ways. People also contribute to tragedy consciously, as well as subconsciously, unaware of the consequences that will subsequently follow. In the novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, tragedy is undoubtedly present in the protagonist, Tess Durbeyfield's life. Although Tess is portrayed as an innocent girl who makes wrongful decisions which lead to her destruction, Tess' parents, Angel Clare, and Alec d'Urberville play an important part in her life, leading to her tragedy. .
The Durbeyfield parents started the cycle of tragedy in Tess life by thinking of themselves first. Her parents' weakness is that her father is lazy and her mother is simple. The Durbeyfield's need of a new horse, and the mother's greed for her daughter to claim kin against her will with a noble family member of the d'Urbervilles, starts Tess on her journey to her destruction. Tess' parents could have supported themselves if they had not been so proud about being descendants of the prestigious d'Urbervilles. Tess, being simplistic, is unaware of dangers a man such as Alec d'Urberville posed, and it is not fair that she is being made to suffer for succumbing to an unknown danger. This is noted when she protests to her mother: .
Oh, Mother, my mother! How could I be expected to know? I was a child when I left this house four months ago. Why didn't you tell me there was danger in men-folk? Why didn't you warn me? but I never had the chance o' learning in that way, and you did not help me!" (Hardy 95) .
Tess' innocence is at risk her because she is not informed of the dangers of life by her parents; her mother does not even stop her from leaving with Alec, even though she has a feeling that Alec may take advantage of Tess. The greed for her daughter's marriage into a noble family has put the wool over her eyes. Another incident that adds to the tragedy of Tess is the letter that she receives from her mother just before her marriage to Angel, advising her not to tell him about her past life, including the rape and the baby.