As a tragic novelist, Hardy departs from realism and privileges nonnarrative affect over plot. Hardy’s novels, like Athenian tragedies, contest the irrevocable plot at hand. In Athenian tragedy, storylines beyond heroines’ control destroy their good character, while they or others lament the injustice of such plots. So in Tess, Angel assumes that what Tess was made to do, against her will, redefines her to her detriment; her narrator protests her innocence. This is, I show, the antithesis of the Aristotelian model of tragedy in which protagonists themselves inadvertently cause their demises, but are understood to be morally uncorrupted in the process. It is different, too, from the Christian reading of tragedy in which heroines fall because of their moral vices. The latter, however, is the view that Sue adopts in Jude. Hardy marshals these contrasting conceptions of tragedy—Athenian, Aristotelian, Christian—to indict rape culture and internalized victim-blaming.


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pp. 470-492
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