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Tess of the Deurbervilles vs Heart of Darkness Essay

Throughout the two novels, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Heart of Darkness, the characters of the story use psychological methods in order to oppress their “victims”. Though the characters from each story portray stark differences, the overall psychological processes that they go through are similar. In Tess of the d’Urbervilles there is the psychology of guilt and what it means to the victim, and in Heart of Darkness there is the psychology of domination and what it means for someone to seize power over many other people.

The major story line behind Tess of the d’Urbervilles is the tragic life of Tess. Because she accidentally kills Prince, the family Horse, she must help her family make money (TD 22-24). This leads to her meeting an Alec d’Urberville (TD 28) who ends up raping her and impregnating her (TD 58 and Phase 2). Because of this, later on in life when she meets the man of her dreams, she is viewed as being impure and ghastly (TD 181-183). Her life is miserable and she faces much self-loathing. Because of all of these misfortunes, Tess undergoes exposure to the psychology of guilt.

This guilt factor comes from people like her parents, Alec and Angel. In the beginning of the story the parents use guilt when Tess accidently kills the family horse (TD 22-24). They use this in order to get her to go and ask for assistance from the other d’Urbervilles, starting her whole drama. This psychological tool is again used on her by Alec d’Urberville. He used it many times. He first uses it when he tries to seduce her in the beginning part of the novel. He tries to get her, like all the other girls, to go after him and kiss him because she needs something from him (TD 39-42).

When this eventually doesn’t work, he decides to rape her and then she runs away (TD 58-59). He again uses the act of guilt later on in the book when he tries to get her to marry him because of the past circumstances that have happened to them. He basically says that though I raped you and it wasn’t your fault, you are still now obligated to marry me and I won’t have it be any other way (TD 255-Alec’s death). Because of her sorrow at the moment and loss of hope she is guilted into at least making him happy, if not herself or her real husband, Angel.

Angel is the last person to cause her to feel guilt. When he turns away from her because of her past life, he forces her to think poorly of herself and feel that she owes it to him to be a self-loathing and destroyed person (TD 181-183). She believes that she is not worthy of anything and is forced to wait eternally for his approval of her and the return of his love. Like Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the Heart of Darkness also made prominent use of psychological tools. The Heart of Darkness mainly uses the tool of dominance. This book was mainly founded on Imperialism.

This is the practice of extending the power and dominion of a nation by gaining indirect or direct control over the political or economic life of other areas and their people. The book tells the story of a man named Marlow who leads a steam boat down the Congo in order to find Ivory (HD 5-7). As he goes along he runs into many stations with both natives and other agents. He eventually goes to find a man named Mr. Kurtz who is the best agent in the company. Mr. Kurtz brings in more Ivory than any other man in the company (HD 16). The two acts of domination are done by all the white men throughout the story and by Mr. Kurtz towards the end of the book.

The main act of domination is committed by the white men towards the black African people. They put these people in chains and force them to do labor for them (HD 12). They call these people “criminals” but they are truly just slaves (HD 13). The white men felt that because of the primitiveness of the African people they would be able to conquer them and make them do as they please. The other act of dominance is committed by Mr. Kurtz. Mr. Kurtz uses his dominance as a white man who is more advanced industrially to make himself seem almost supernatural to the native people along the Congo.

He gets them to accept him and practically worship him (HD 51). Because of this he goes on a power trip and believes himself to be superior to all. He shows many attributes including his use of the natives for his Ivory business (HD 51-52) as well as the decapitation of those he calls “rebels” (HD 53). Mr. Kurtz uses his higher status to his advantage to gain power. So throughout both Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the Heart of Darkness, psychological tools are being used to force people’s hands.

In Tess of the ’Urbervilles, Tess is controlled by the tool of guilt into doing things for her parents, Alec and Angel. Because of this guilt she punishes herself and ends up living a tragic and lonely life. Heart of Darkness incorporates the tool of dominance. The white men in the story take control over the weaker African natives in order to profit off of their land and the forced slave labor of the people. Mr. Kurtz also uses the natives to treat him as a supernatural being and get them to do his work for him. Psychological tools were main features of both of the two novels.


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