Abstract： Thomas Hardy’s masterpiece Tess of The D'Urbervilles presents readers the heroine Tess’s tragic life. By analyzing Tess's family background, Tess's own characteristics and the social factors, this paper aims to probe into the causes of Tess's tragedy. The pressure from the society of bourgeois makes the poor live in bitterness. Meanwhile, under the control of the society of male chauvinism, women have no social status and they had to be obedient to the men. Such a social environment, together with Tess’s character defects, causes her to become the victim of the society.
Key words: Tess's tragedy; family background; characteristics; social factors
Thomas Hardy, an excellent critical realistic writer, mainly writes about the common country people in Wessex, southwestern part of England. "He shows grandeur and dignity in his tragedies similar to what we find in Greek tragedy and his grave and elaborate style contributes to the tragic sense of life. Hardy is remarkable for his tremendous power of producing tragedies comparable to classic tragedies"（2012:1）.
Tess of D'Uberville, Thomas Hardy's masterpiece, tells the story of Tess's tragic life. Tess, who is beautiful and pure, used to be a nice girl, but her life is full of rough and bumpy roads. There are two important men in Tess's life ---- Angel and Alec. Angel, a hypocrite, loves Tess but can't accept her past, and abandons her. Alec is a capitalist, who is rich but rude and filthy. He seduces Tess and rapes her, but he doesn't show his true love and he discards Tess. "He was poisonous, hypocritical, selfish, and cruel. The religious tenet was his arm to disguise his inner evil"(Ye Pan,2009:18) .At last, Tess is sentenced to death because she kills Alec in despair.
Tess is an unfortunate girl. She can do nothing to avoid or change her fate, but she is still honest, kind-hearted and uncomplaining. This novel expresses the sympathy for British lower classes, especially rural women and it challenges the society of bourgeois. It reflects the corruption and the unfair social system of the Victorian age. Hardy uses the concept that "people's character is destiny" (Hardy,1997:126) to depict Tess from both the subjective factors and the objective factors.