Sunday, March 30

And What of the Hymen?

Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Once you get past the proseyness of it all, it's easy to realize why T.H. Hardy caused such an uproar in the 19th century with what is arguably his best work. A woman deflowered, impregnated, left to her own devices, ultimately reduced to murder...

"He knelt and bent lower,till her breath warmed his face
and in a moment his cheek was in contact with hers. She was sleeping soundly,
and upon her eyelashes there lingered tears."

Scandal! Too much effing porno in the house! Queen Victoria will keel over and have a coronary. How dare he expose such... such... such sin and defilement in the name of art!

Read in the 21st century, the destruction of Tess D'Urberville is a sad tale of the whimsies of fate, the determined hypocrisy of the age, and it slams the reader with a heavy realization that scenarios like these really don't happen today. Ours is a world where a hymen means nothing. What is deflowering but a brief twinge of discomfort? The skanks and hoes of the world now unite with their baby daddies, making it rain, dropping it like it's hot.

Bastard children? What bastards? Illegitimacy is no longer the heavy social scourge it was (in some circles, maybe). We flaunt the norms. We glory in the utter decadence of a world that no longer pays attention to morals. Britney Spears flashes her vagina for all to see. Madonna spreads her legs in her latest album cover. A woman raped, forced to see her pregnancy to fruition and then to watch her baby die? This happens every ten minutes.

Poor, poor Tess. A Victorian icon of all that was mistreated, abused, vilified even in her innocence, now she stands as a symbol of an age where things may have been hidden, but at least morals were upheld.


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