This paper demonstrates the ways in which Thomas Hardy the author of Tess of the D'Urbervilles presented the capitalist in the society and the way in which they increasingly exposed the peasants to hostile conditions of labor due to their status as the rural working class which is a function of an exploitative capitalist economy. Tess's situation as the representative of all of the agrarian working poor is caught up in the capitalist social relations of the day in particularly harmful and exploitative ways.
According to Hardy's pessimistic views, mankind must be subjected to situations in which he is ruled by very hostile mysterious fate, As a result of this situation misfortunes are naturally born into the human life. Hardy believes that people are helpless the before supernatural force which he refers to as the natural fate. The pessimism and determinism of Hardy's ideas are best illustrated especially in the characters of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles". Hardy explains the tragic fate of Tess who he identifies as the "pure woman" or rather the heroine who succumbs to her situation due to the influence of some mysterious forces. He blames the whole tragedy that Tess is succumbed due to the accidental discovery of her father and his aristocratic ancestry as a consequence he believes that the chance happenings are the cause of the unhappy relations that Tess goes through in the hands of the two young men.
Hardy presents the increasingly hostile conditions of labor for the rural working class as a function of the exploitative capitalists' economy in which the poor people are supposed to carry out heavy tasks and at the same time, these social classes of the poor live under conditions that are no better than in the jails. Due to the development of capitalism ideologies in the society, the social problems increased to the alarming levels, these problems were mainly caused by the cleavage between the wealth and poverty status, some problems were also caused by the conflict that existed between labor and capital issues, and lastly by child labor which was the mother of the tragedy (Hardy, 61)
A critical analysis of the book reveals that the problems were accelerated by the sordid conditions under which the laboring people worked and lived. However, the economic depressions, the higher levels of unemployment, and extent to which the poor workers' demanded for their political rights made the capitalists to tighten their grip on the resources for fear of losing their status. Hardy truthfully depicted how the small farmers were impoverished and decayed by being hired to work as the capitalist's field hands in addition to roaming the country in search of the seasonal jobs.
The small farmers formed a small group of the laborers who were extensively exploited by the capitalists who were the rich landowners. Hardy does not hide his pain in the sight of the deterioration of the working and the increasing level of poor living conditions that the farmers in the rural set up were exposed. In this novels, he brings out the suffering of the poor and specifically shows his sympathy for the poor farmers by protest against the exploitation which the capitalists exposes their fellow human beings (Jagdish, 52).
Therefore, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" has been used as Hardy's important tool for highlighting the evils of the capitalist society. Tess's tragedy has close links to the disintegration of peasant farmers. In the novel hard shows this deterioration through a picture of women laborers who were living under poor conditions, and working in the fields with adverse weather conditions. The women work under hardships and are paid very low wages, they complain about the heavy work they are assigned and the long working hours that they are forced to work through even when they are already tired. As a literal device, Hard uses the tragedy of Tess in criticizing the capitalist's exploitation and their nature of hypocritical morality, he puts Tess in the context of a society which is very similar to his, he even depicts it as a useless society which is full of the cruel capitalist's and their exploitative manners (Wright, 87)
Hardy knew of the changes that were going on in the society during his own life, he was extensively aware of the effects, that the economic change brought into the society. He therefore uses Tess as the literal device to show the social mobility through the industrialist set up and the effects of capitalist as the main impediment to progress, similarly her duality squares with her descent from both the poor country folk as her mother's ancestors and the rich D'Urbervilles dwellers as her father's ancestors. Capitalism divided her social mobility into two ways by the use of the economic enclosures and the element of industrialism which changes the traditional shape of farming activities in village (Bloom, 53).
The social evils of the capitalists are seen when they force the workers off their land and turn them into desperate dependents of either industrial or agricultural hard chores for their survival. In Chapter 51 of the novel, the author intentionally uses imagery in his description of the annual migrations that the poor undergoes as they shift from farm to farm on, through this, the author shows his emotions in the most touching and disturbing manner in which he empathizes with this poor rural peasants (Köseman, 397)
The social evils of capitalism are evidenced in the scenes of threshing at Flintcomb-Ash farm, in this scene, Tess and other women are the servants to the "red tyrant." They are given a machine which is importunate; the author describes it as inhuman and insatiable. The workmen makes a comparison between this machine and the way they used thresh with their bare hands. They describe the engineer who operates the machine as being unqualified. Workers see the machine as a means which the capitalists use to perpetrate their inhumane nature, in Tess's context, the Engineer and the machine are like Alec, she the machine as the source of inhumane treatment to the workers in as much as Alec is importunate, inhuman and insatiable. The threshing machine is seen to be repetitiously hurting as Alec, and as powerful as the capitalists.
The author uses imagery to portray Alec as the capitalism creature who compares to the machine which is also a powerful creature of industrialism, Alec as a capitalist is the son of a very rich tradesman but who is landless because he only exploits the old upper class who are the true D'Urbervilles through borrowing the name this capitalist class Alec's social ills are evidenced when he seduces Tess, a girl from the lower class. Alec who is the main representative of the capitalist's who are responsible for the fall of the peasants.
The scene is very important the demonstration of how the capitalists perpetrate the sufferings of the poor, it symbolizes the dehumanization that the capitalist farms subject to the peasants. This is contrary to the Talbothays where the working conditions left the workers with something to be proud of and pursue their interest in the labor as was in the case of the dairyman's wife who found kindliness in the common kitchen where she presided. The workers find nothing satisfying at this place, and even the emphasis on the Marian's bottle of liquor they used to have is not casual but a kind of meaningfulness is attached on it. (Harold, 1987)
Tess experiences her final blow in her attempts to maintain her status of purity when her father dies; the death of her father is consequently followed by the expulsion of their entire family from their lifelong cottage at the Marlott village where John Durbeyfield was their life-holder. They never again set their eyes to another tenants who was as promising as this, the tenants they encountered mostly pulled them down in their efforts to make their lives better for instance in some cases the cottages could be required by the farmer's for use by his workmen, this meant heal to her family for they were to be thrown out.
The capitalists looked upon the cottagers who were not permanently employed on their farms with a lot of disfavor. As a result those families resorted to seek refuge at some other favorable places preferably the larger centers. These were amongst the peasant families which formed the backbone of the village life by maintaining the traditional values and ways of the village. It was under such like conditions that led to the final fall of Tess in her endeavor to support her family which had been driven off the land.
Thus from an analytical viewpoint, Tess of the D'Urbervilles has been used by the author to show the disintegration of the peasantry especially in the rural folk, which is a social as well as the industrial tragedy. In the assessment of the novel as a whole, the balance is needed to be maintained between the personal tragedy of Tess as it unfolds in the novel and the social and industrial tragedies (Plietzsch, 80). Hardy achieves this by the use of imagery which depicts Tess as the symbolic representation of the poor peasants and their social class, through her the reader gets the pictures of the rural people's occupations, the problems which they encounter, and the tribulations they go through with the view of the achieving better conditions.