I will be comparing how feelings and views on the main character change in two books, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. The main characters in each of the books are female.The characters seem lead contrasting lives. Other characters in the books view them entirely differently, and the reader will distinguish between them in various ways. This could be due to a number of reasons, for example the books were written in different times, and views and roles of women have changed significantly since the time when ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ was written. A woman wrote ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ and ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ was written by a man, which may affect the way that the characters are portrayed.At the beginning of the book, Tess Durbeyfield is introduced as a simple, rustic girl.
She lives with her parents and younger siblings, and is sixteen years old. She is also described as quite pretty, in fact, at the beginning of the book ‘…To almost everybody she was a fine and picturesque country girl, and no more…
‘.Tess appears to be quite caring at the start of the story, when she defends her father whilst the other girls in the group are mocking him, and she is quite confused and anxious when this happens. She helps her mother to care for her siblings and the house, and her siblings seem to look up to her.
This is especially evident when her younger brother, Abraham is talking to her. I think that Tess is slightly idealised at the beginning of the book, as no negative views about Tess’s character are expressed.’..
.Her mobile peony mouth and large innocent eyes added eloquence to colour and shape…
‘Bridget Jones is presented as a more realistic character at the beginning of the book. She is more independant than Tess, as she lives alone and is older. She sounds more genuine as Fielding has written the book in diary form, so that the reader knows what Bridget is feeling. Bridget is not at all idealised in the beginning of the book, and this makes her character more believable and easier to relate to. She appears to have a relatively negative view about herself, and is not described as pretty or out of the ordinary.
I think that Bridget Jones is quite a likeable character, as she is more authentic than Tess, as she is put in more similar situations to us and is less idealised than Tess. It is quite hard to decide whether Tess is a likeable character in the first chapters of the book, as her character is not really shown in enough detail.In chapter four, Tess’s parents are in Rollivers inn, and they are contemplating sending Tess to meet with the Durbeyfield’s rich ‘relations’, which makes the reader feel some sympathy for Tess, as she is not told of her parents plan until later. Her parents are discussing Tess’s ‘good prospects’ of getting married to a gentleman if they send her to meet with the D’Urbervilles. Tess later finds out that the whole of her family have been talking about it when her brother mentions it to her.
The reader feels even more sympathy for Tess when the Durbeyfields horse is killed in an accident whilst in her care.Although Tess is reluctant to visit the D’Urbervilles at first, she feels so guilty about killing the horse that she agrees to the plan. Sympathy is again felt by the reader as Tess gets increasingly embarrassed and uncomfortable whilst talking to Alec Stoke D’Urberville.
The reader is on a higher level than Tess in this part of the book and can see that Alec is tricking Tess, as he knows that he is not in any way related to the Durbeyfields. Tess seems to be half aware of his intentions, as she acts cautiously around him at all times, but is too innocent to prevent him from tricking and seducing her.The reader also feels some sympathy for Bridget Jones at the beginning of the book, although her situation is much more humorous than Tess’s. Bridget is made to visit her mother and fathers friends, and is constantly being put on the spot in front of everybody. Even though the event is mainly comical, sympathy is felt for Bridget, as she is embarrassed by her parents’ friend. You feel sympathy for Bridget throughout the book, as many of the incidents in the book are embarrassing for her, and she does a lot of things which she regrets.
‘…Am in disgrace and am laughing stock.
..’The two books contrast in this way, as Bridget Jones’s Diary is a humorous book and Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a tragedy. The events which both of the heroines go through sometimes have similarities, such as when Tess is embarrassed by her parents when they are in the inn, and when Bridget is constantly embarrassed by her parents, but her mother in particular, through the book. However, the decision made by Tess’s parents to send her to meet and claim kin with Mrs Stoke D’Urberville has serious implications on her life, but Bridget’s life is hardly affected by what her parents do, as she is a lot more independent than Tess. She is also wiser and less innocent than Tess. There is little humour in Tess of the D’Urbervilles.Alec intimidates Tess whenever she is around him, as she appears to suspect that Alec is planning to do something.
She does not let him touch her very much, although he makes his attraction to her quite clear. The reader can see what Alec is planning to do, and feels anxious for Tess.While Tess is at the D’Urbervilles home, Alec tries to seduce her, and Tess appears relatively unaware of his intentions. He eventually succeeds and Tess returns home and has a child. The child dies, unbaptised, as it was illegitimate. The reader feels grief for Tess, as this could have been prevented had Tess been wiser. She is no longer seen as a pure, innocent child, which affects her life later in the book, after she has married Angel Clare. Alec has taken her purity away, which changes the reader’s view of her considerably, as she is described as pure and innocent at the beginning of the book.
By the end of the book, she has changed from an innocent young girl to a woman. Tess’s purity appears to be one of the main things that attract people to her, especially Angel, her future husband. She appears more grown up and experienced, and goes to work by herself at the dairy. She becomes a woman both physically and emotionally. At this point, there is a similarity with Bridget Jones, as she has become an independant woman rather than an innocent girl.Tess starts to reflect on her life and craves happiness away from her home and her sad memories. This is when she decides to become a dairymaid.
She goes to the dairy full of hope and happiness, although she still has thoughts which are described as ‘grave’. At this point, the reader feels happy for Tess, as it seems as if she will lead a normal life once again.She meets Angel Clare while she is working at the dairy and is immediately attracted to him, and is happier than ever.When Angel Clare falls in love with Tess, he is under the impression that she is very pure and innocent, and this is part of the reason that he is attracted to her. Eventually, Tess and Angel get married, but Tess does not tell Angel about her history, and the incident with Alec D’Urberville. Once again, the reader empathises with Tess, because she knows that she should tell Angel about her past, but is worried about ruining her relationship with him. She is torn between being honest with Angel and risking losing him or not telling him and keeping the relationship but having to hide something from him.
Tess almost tells Angel, but cannot resist marrying him and doesn’t tell him. ‘She dismissed the past-trod upon it and put it out, as one treads on a coal that is smouldering and dangerous.’ In this part of the book, Tess appears to be much more grown up, although she is still described as a simple girl. When Tess tells Angel, he gets very angry and seems quite harsh on Tess.Bridget Jones appears almost immature in some ways compared to Tess, as she does not have very serious views on things such as relationships.
Nothing as serious or tragic as the episodes in the life of Tess have happened to Bridget, and although Bridget sometimes has depressing thoughts and feelings, they are mostly over quite trivial things, such as her appearance. Tess has a more traumatic time, which may have helped her grow up very quickly.Bridget Jones does not encounter many serious situations in the diary which, together with her character are both seemingly intended to be humorous.
This is why Bridget Jones and Tess differ in the way that the reader views them. Sympathy is mostly felt for Tess, because she experiences one traumatic event after another. The reader feels great sadness for Tess during some parts of her life, such as after her child dies and when she is torn between telling Angel Clare the truth about her past.
Bridget Jones does not have many serious situations in the year in which the book is set. The book has a more light-hearted outlook on life, and this is clearly reflected in Bridget’s thoughts and in the solemn style in which the diary is written. This is shown even more when the book is compared to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which has the opposite view on life, and is much more pessimistic.Even when Bridget Jones has a pregnancy scare, the situation is still viewed as light-hearted and humorous, as you can see in Bridget’s diary entries. This part of the book is not very realistic, as it does not portray the more pessimistic feelings of fear. The situation is resolved when Bridget finds out that she is not actually pregnant.Bridget is not a very serious character, and the reader’s view of her does not change very much throughout the book.
She does not grow up in the way that Tess does, and remains constant throughout the whole story. Bridget is not altered by the situations that she experiences in the year when the diary is written, and is overall unaffected by the end of it, as she still sounds writes in the same style in her later diary entries. Tess, on the other hand, seems to have matured by the end of the book.
Bridget goes through a lot of mortifying situations in the book, although she always seems to be quite happy during and after them, even though she is embarrassed, which shows that she is quite a confident person. Sometimes Bridget feels upset in her diary entries, although she retains her sense of humour throughout as this entry when she finds out that Daniel had been cheating on her illustrates: ‘I’m falling apart. My boyfriend is sleeping with a bronzed giantess…Do not know what to believe in or hold onto any more.
Feel like ringing Daniel in hope that he could deny everything, come up with plausible explaination for the clothes-free rooftop valkyrie – younger sister, friendly neighbour recovering from flood or similar – which would make everything alright…’This entry is funny even though it is on a serious subject. Bridget does not ever seem to feel real distress, as there are always amusing comments in her diary entries, whereas Tess seems to feel genuine sorrow.
This makes Bridget seem as quite a cheerful person, although she also is portrayed as quite weak-willed, as every time she experiences a setback in her life, she eats or drinks alcohol. In this way, she appears quite realistic as a modern human being, which encourages the reader to become fond of her, as they are more able to relate to her. Bridget’s problems are more everyday and common than Tess’s, so it is also easier to relate to her as a person in this way. Bridget does not mean to be funny, and she puts herself in humorous situations. The style in which the diary is written makes the reader laugh at Bridget, and her thoughts, feelings and reactions to the things that happen in her life.
Later in the book, the readers view on Tess changes very dramatically, as the book ends with her murdering Alec D’Urberville. This is quite unexpected, as Tess appears for the rest of the book to be very gentle and kind. Angel is also surprised and horrified by her behaviour.
Tess knows how much she has changed and says: ‘…
How wickedly mad I was! Yet formerly I could never bear to hurt a fly or a worm, and the sight of a bird in a cage often used to make me cry!’ This shows that Tess is also surprised by her actions and passion and an example of how she changes immensely during the book, as she is forced to grow up due to everything that happens to her.As Tess changes a lot in the book, so the readers view of her also changes. At the start of the story she is an innocent young country girl and it is totally unexpected that she will have committed murder and be executed by the end of the book.
The feelings about her mostly change from her being a girl and growing into a woman. In doing this she must come to terms with a series of tragic events, such as having Alec D’Urberville’s child and having Angel reject her because of her past, – things that were beyond her control. Although the reader is shocked when Tess commits the murder, they still do not judge her too harshly as Alec had ruined her life. Hardy still wants the reader to side with Tess, as they know what she has been through in her life and her reasons for murdering Alec.
I believe that some of the views and feelings are changed, however, as the reader is made to feel sympathy and sadness for her throughout the book together with a sense of hopelessness, from the very beginning, when she is introduced, to when she is executed.The readers view on Bridget Jones does not change very dramatically in any part of the book, although as you read more of her diary entries, more is found out about her character and with that the reader will understand her sense of humour to a greater extent. Bridget appears to the reader as quite a funny character, and most of the diary entries illustrate this. She also seems quite weak, and gives in to things very easily which serves to make her more human to the reader.Personally, I prefer Bridget Jones to Tess, as I can relate to her more than I can relate to Tess. Bridget goes through more realistic situations and her life is more realistic compared to that of Tess’s. I also prefer the more humorous situations in Bridget Jones’s diary.
The diary style of the book makes it interesting as the reader can see what Bridget is feeling and get a better insight on what is happening to her.In summary, out of the two characters compared, the reader is made to feel a wider range of emotions concerning Tess than Bridget. These range from delight at her innocence and prettiness, grief for her tragic life and horror for her uncharacteristic violent action and consequent execution. On the other hand, the reader feels a light-hearted empathy throughout the Diary for Bridget who takes a comic view of modern life, which prevents the reader from becoming too concerned for her emotionally.