Tess and Sibyl are Equal
With reading the novels Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy, and The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde, I have come to the conclusion that Tess and Sibyl are equals. Both of these women can be persuaded to do anything. They also are weak characters in both novels, even though one of the novels is named after her. Both of these novels ends in tragedy which has some significance to these two weak women. In the Victorian era women were generally not suppose to be as emotionally strong as men, and these two women are examples that.
One of Tess’s weakness is the fact that she feels guilty about everything. When prince the horse dies because she fell asleep while diving, she feels guilty enough to go to the D’Urbervilles just so that wouldn’t be on her conscious (25). When she is raped and is caring a child she decides to have the child. She is distraught when the baby dies as if it is somehow her fault (74). She decides that she is going to be a milkmaid and she accepts her position as such. She meets someone, and marries him, but when he goes off to Brazil she cannot handle being by herself. She is tempted too much and repeatedly tries to write to her husband so that he might come home. Before she met Angel, Tess had decided that she would be a milkmaid and was satisfied with her choice. After she gets married she cannot live and prosper without him. She is not an independent person at all, but one that has to rely on males in order to survive. She then decides that life can’t get any worse so she goes on a revenge seeking plot to kill her “cousin” who is in continual pursuit of Tess. She does this because he will not stop pursuing her and she doesn’t possess the will power to not be tempted by him. Killing him seemed to be a better option (308). She then cannot face the consequences of her actions so she attempts to run away, but they find her at last at Stonehenge. Here she has accepted defeat and finally takes her punishment (320). Tess is a weak character because she couldn’t overcome the simplest of things, and eventually it all caught up with her.
Sibyl on the other hand is very similar even though she doesn’t kill anybody. Dorian falls in love with this beautiful actress and decides that he is going to marry her. Sibyl, being significantly worse off than he is, decides why not and agrees to marry Dorian (64). This is the first sighting of the weakness of character that Sibyl shows us. She decides to marry Dorian only for his money, and to get out of financial despair. This sounds very familiar as to why Tess goes to see her relatives: she wants to help her family get out of the financial status that they are in. After Dorian breaks up with Sibyl she is in despair because she fancied herself to truly be in love with him and not just his money. Because of the despair that she is in she decides that she can’t live another day so she kills herself (71). If Sibyl would have been true to herself she would have realized that she wasn’t in love, and she would have coped with her way of life.
In both of these stories we see two women, both around the same age, that are weak characters. They both are from poor families, which might make you think that they would be of stronger mind but that is not the case. Both girls are looking to ways in which they can improve their station in life. They both can’t go on living so they decide to end it, but they do so in different ways. Tess decides that she finally has enough of Alec and then by the time that the authorities catch up with her, she is ready and willing to go. Sibyl has less time in her respective novel than Tess does, but they both share the same fate. These two characters are weak, and that is a downfall of the novels themselves. Tess would have been a better book had Tess been a stronger figure.
Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2001. Print.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Dover Publications, 1993. Print.