Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hardy’

Many times I and my hubby have watched ‘The Moment of Truth’, an American reality show on TV. The truth sometimes startled us and sometimes we wondered what if it enters Indian television. And so did it happen. Star Plus channel began to air ‘Sach Ka Saamna’ (Face the Truth).

The questions asked by the anchor in the programme were startling. They ranged from simple to complex, simple because they are about our won life, complex because they are about infidelity, incest and other taboo subjects. We feel that those questions are not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition, especially keeping in view Indian culture and ethos. The answers can ruin relationships, ruin the lives of participants in future.

A polygraphic test indicates whether the answers are true or false. A false answer means an exit from the show.

Though as audience, we feel it is the world’s simplest show, one has to realise that it is still the most difficult game show as one has to speak nothing but the truth to survive through each level. Each passing level questions get tougher, more personal and increasingly edgy, putting the contestants and the family and friends in trouble.

On the very first day, host Rajeev Khandelwal grilled Smita Matai and extracted all truth from her. At the end, when she was asked if she wanted to have affair with another man without her husband’s knowledge, she said “No”. But the Polygraph machine termed her answer to be “False”, much to the shock and surprise of Smita and her family members, including her husband. Her husband looked dejected, while Smita kept claiming that it was not true.

It’s sure that participants can win a sum of Rs 10 million, but at what cost? Revealing personal information in public! How can money won in such shows bring about a positive change and help the contestants shed their baggage and lead a better life?

Many suspicious men and women among audience would be thinking sending their partners to the show to know the truth. But will they be able to tolerate the truth coming out in front of all? Will the relationship survive? Will a man or a woman accept that their partners had cheated or will cheat them in future? How many men will accept their wives if they come to know that they have had an affair (physical) with another man? I and my hubby had a long debate over the issue and he keeps telling me that past doesn’t matter if the woman is faithful in the present as well as in the future. Bury the past and look into the future. But how far is it possible?

I remember Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles here. Tess tries to confess about her past to Angel Claire before the wedding, but in vain. But after the wedding the first thing she wants to do is reveal everything about her past. But before she could confess, Angel confesses to her that he once had a brief affair with an older woman in London. When she hears the story, Tess feels that Angel will forgive her own indiscretion, and finally tells him about her relationship with Alec and about her baby Sorrow, who died within few days. Angel, however, is appalled by Tess’s confession and spends the wedding night sleeping on a sofa outside. Devastated Tess accepts the sudden estrangement of her husband as something she deserves. After a few awkward, awful days, she suggests that they separate, telling Angel that she will return to her parents. Angel gives her some money and promises to try to reconcile himself to her past, but warns her not to try to join him until he sends for her. After a quick visit to his parents, Angel takes ship for Brazil to start a new life. Before he leaves, he encounters Izz Huett on the road and impulsively asks her to come to Brazil with him, as his mistress. She accepts, but when he asks her how much she loves him, she admits: “Nobody could love you more than Tess. She would have laid down her life for you. I could do no more!” Hearing this, he abandons his whim of taking a mistress along with him to Brazil.

Not just in novels, many such incidents do happen in our life also. When men confess about their extra-marital affairs or their past affairs women, accept them open-heartedly, but there are very few instances where men have accepted women unconditionally. A man wants his wife to be solely his. He will not be ready to share his love. He wants to be the first and the last man in the life of his wife.

Under such circumstances, how can a man tolerate if his wife tells the truth that she had an affair or wants to have an affair, or is living with her husband only because of the children and not because of love?!

Thomas Hardy has been one of my favourite writers and I loved almost all his novels since my degree. One among them was Far from the Madding Crowd.

Today, I saw the movie based on his novel.

Bathsheba Everdene (Paloma Baeza) is a beautiful young woman without a fortune. She meets Gabriel Oak (Nathaniel Parker), a young farmer, and saves his life one evening. He asks her to marry him, but she refuses because she does not love him. Upon inheriting her uncle’s prosperous farm she moves away to the town of Weatherbury.

A disaster befalls Gabriel’s farm and he loses his sheep; he is forced to give up farming. He goes looking for work, and in his travels finds himself in Weatherbury. After rescuing a local farm from fire he asks the mistress if she needs a shepherd. It is Bathsheba, and she hires him. As Bathsheba learns to manage her farm she becomes acquainted with her neighbour Mr Boldwood (Nigel Terry). On a whim, she sends him a valentine with the words “Marry me.” Boldwood becomes obsessed with her and becomes her second suitor. Rich and handsome, he has been sought after by many women. Bathsheba refuses him because she does not love him, but she then agrees to reconsider her decision.

That very night, Bathsheba meets a handsome soldier Sergeant Troy (Jonathan Firth). Unknown to Bathsheba, he has recently impregnated a local girl Fanny Robin (Natasha Little) and almost married her. Troy falls in love with Bathsheba, enraging Mr Boldwood. Bathsheba travels to Bath to warn Troy of Mr Boldwood’s anger and while she is there, Troy convinces her to marry him. Gabriel has remained her friend throughout and does not approve of the marriage. A few weeks after his marriage to Bathsheba, Troy sees Fanny, poor and sick; she later dies giving birth to her child. Bathsheba discovers that Troy is the father. Grief-stricken at Fanny’s death and riddled with shame, Troy runs away and is thought to have drowned.

With Troy supposedly dead, Mr Boldwood becomes more and more emphatic about Bathsheba marrying him. Troy sees Bathsheba at a fair and decides to return to her. Boldwood holds a Christmas to which he invites Bathsheba and again proposes marriage. Just after she has agreed, Troy arrives to claim her. Bathsheba screams, and Mr Boldwood shoots Troy dead. He is sentenced to life in prison. A few months later, Bathsheba marries Gabriel, now a prosperous bailiff.

Thomas Hardy’s immortal tale of love — Tess of the D’Urbervilles — abandoned and virtue lost has been captivating readers for over a century.

And I was more than happy to watch the unforgettable intensity and tenderness of the treasured classic in a lavish adaptation. It was in my degree I first read the novel and later in my post graduation.

Her luminous beauty blazing against the bleak background of rural Victorian England, Tess remains one of literature’s best-loved and most memorable heroines.
Violated by one man and forsaken by another, she refuses to remain a victim. But her struggle to endure despite the abandonment of her true love and her desperate attempt to attain happiness propel Tess toward a tragic end.

Tess (Justine Waddell) is a girl of the working class and learns that her father is the descendant of the noble family, the d’Urbervilles. Her family sends Tess to a rich relative in nearby Tantridge to get money or marry well so that her parents will be taken care of. Her meeting with Alec d’Urberville (Jason Flemyng), one of the relatives, seals her dreadful fate. He is attracted to Tess and seduces her and she returns home ruined. Alec promises to take care of her if she ever needs anything, but she dislikes him so much that she’d rather suffer than have any contact with him.

Soon Tess bears a child she names, Sorrow, and the child dies only days after it is born. Tess leaves home to try at independence again knowing now to be wary of men. She goes to Talbothay’s dairy and falls in love with Angel Clare (Oliver Milburn), the son of a pastor who is learning about farming at the dairy. Although she thinks herself unworthy of such a sweet man because of what happened to her, Tess and Angel fall in love and decide to get married. She refused his proposals for quite a while trying to find a way to tell him about her past with Alec d’Urberville, but she couldn’t do it. Shortly before they are supposed to be married, she writes him a letter and slips it under the door of his room. He never gets the letter because it is stuck under the edge of the carpet. Tess realizes this mistake on the morning of their marriage, and she is not given an opportunity to tell him before they are married.

That night he confesses that he’s had one sexual encounter and she forgives him, knowing that he’ll forgive her what happened with Alec. But when she tells Angel about it, the way he feels about her changes completely. He feels betrayed and tricked, so they agree to separate.

He goes to Brazil to try his hand at farming there, and Tess works at hard job after hard job rather than asking his family for money as he’d instructed her when he left. While she’s working herself to the bone, she encounters Alec d’Urberville again and he begins visiting her, relentlessly trying to convince her to marry him. She finally gives in when her family is evicted from their home after her father’s death and they have nowhere to go. Alec provides them a home, and Tess agrees to be his wife.

Angel returns from Brazil and comes to find her, knowing that he has treated her unfairly. When he finds her, she is distraught that the only man she ever loved has come back, and once again, Alec d’Urberville is standing in her way. She stabs Alec with a knife, and she and Angel spend a week together hiding out and being as they were before they were married. Then Tess is captured and executed. (Later Angel marries her younger sister, Liza Lu, which the movie didn’t show.)