Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Now, I'm not some crazy feminist who constantly preaches about the double standards of society, but when I watch a film such as Tess of the D'Urbervilles it boils my blood! Men can be such jerks! Of course, at this point many of my guy-friends would kindly remind me that my sex is not without guilt. Yes true, but in the Victorian era, we had few chances to hone our skills of making men miserable. Victorian society bred women to be something out of the Stepford Wives; robots, if you will. The rigid fears about venereal diseases made sex a very scary thing, and women were even scarier.
Women were all Eves and succubi just dying to get their claws on innocent young men, therefore they had to be controlled. This crazy viewpoint is what Thomas Hardy tried to point out when he wrote Tess of the D'Urbervilles. But I noticed something else important that Hardy may not have necessarily intended to point out: the essential aspect of having quality friends in your life. Life pretty-much stinks for Tess throughout the whole movie but the blow is lessened when she finds friends at the dairy farm. I think each one of her friends has the qualities everyone could use in a friend.
Retty is the friend that needs a lot of TLC. For those who have a nurturing nature, Retty fulfills your need to be needed. She may seem meek, but she is loyal and always someone to go to when you're feeling down because you were there for her when she needed it.
Izzy is the neutral friend. At first meeting you may not know where you stand with her but once you get to know each other, a deep friendship develops. You have a gentle understanding with each other so disagreements are unusual but she is no fair weather friend; she is a timeless one.
The Darch Girls, or whatever their name is, are not worth knowing; but somewhere down the line you are bound to meet them. They are the mean girls. You join their little clique as a social survival technique but soon learn of your error. There is no loyalty, and your "friendship" only brings trouble. Some people are just miserable.
Tess herself is also a neutral friend, which is why she is a good main character. She is an example of how bad things happen to good people. All the dairy maids share the same important aspect of friendship: forgiveness. You know they all wanted to tear Tess' hair out for stealing their man, but instead forgave her and were happy for her instead.
Because men had free reign in the nineteenth century, friends were a vital part of survival. Seeing as we are still being jerked around by lovers (see, I was PC and didn't say "men") in a century when women have an equal say, we can say that this is not a fixable error. It's something that is part of life. Tess learns that both the "bad boy" and the "sensitive guy" can be cruel. I could have told you that Tess! Therefore it's a given that history will repeat itself in the dating department. To live in Victorian England, just as to live now, you need good friends to support you in both the good and bad times. Lovers are known to come and go, but there should always be someone at the dairy barn to bitch to about it!