Louis Serino Senior English
2/12/08 Tess Essay
The Evolution of Tess
Thousands of miles away, a man aboard The Beagle braved thrashing oceans and lubbered his way onto the tropical habitat of the Galapagos Islands. His ever-watchful eyes darting hitherto and back searching for observations, he examined and questioned each species of organism struggling to survive on the tiny yet plentiful soil. Little did people know that this obscure nonetheless essential journey in history provided a turning point in society that would send ripples of shock and awe through the pool of life. In 1859, Charles Darwin published his famed Origin of Species which revolutionized the way the masses thought about religion, science, evolution, and man’s role on Earth. Growing up in a Victorian era characterized by change and progress, a young Thomas Hardy was ripe for learning and development at age nineteen and was greatly affected by the newfound “dogmas” of Darwinism; survival of the fittest, natural selection, heritability, and other landmark qualities mentioned among Darwin’s works. This profound influence led Hardy to incorporate these elements of scientific theory into his literature and poetry as well. The key components of Darwinism inspired Hardy to challenge his own structured ideas and the major impact of this new scientific philosophy is clearly demonstrated throughout Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
Any well read scholar knows of Hardy’s vast knowledge and abundant allusions strategically armed throughout the novel, and direct references to Darwin’s works surface among Tess of the d’Urbervilles. In the famous last paragraph of The Origin of Species, Darwin mentions an entangled bank in which organismic life is thriving. There are two separate, subtle throwbacks to this specific passage and looking back one can instantly see the irrefutable connections between all three. One reference occurs when Tess and the dairymaids at Talbothay’s journey to church...