“Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?”
“All like ours?”
“I don’t know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound–a few blighted.”
“Which one do we live on–a splendid one or a blighted one?”
“A blighted one.”
Born into a proud, poor, family, Tess of the D’urbervilles was made a sacrifice from the start. In a desperate attempt to claim kin, Tess was sent to live with a man who would later rape and impregnate her; she gave birth to a child named Sorrow. The sexual double-standards of the day drove her, ashamed and rejected, from town to town working in manual labor. She marries, but upon learning of her “impurities”, is abandoned by her husband and left alone once again. Her husband, Angel, eventually realizes his error, and returns to Tess, who has been working, almost to death, in the fields. Having never given up the hope that one day love would conquer all, Tess murders her rapist, and attempts to run away with her returned husband. When Tess finally sleeps, it is on the altar of Stonehenge. Upon her awakening, she is hanged.
Like Ophelia, Tess is quite the heroine. If she is sacrifice, she is also altar. In her perish all ideals of modernity–she dies a victim of her times, refusing to beg for either the money or the decency she deserves. We remember Tess as a woman who took control: she toiled relentlessly rather than beg, murdered rather than be manipulated, and ultimately accepts her inevitable execution. Tess put up a fight for her existence, and shouldered a vision we still fight for today: independence, self-sovereignty and equality.
Model: Hillary Henrici
HMUA: Christine Rafie
Photographer: Moses Lee
Stylist: Erin Kuykendall
Assistant: Melina Perez
Clothing & Accessories: Frock On Vintage
White dress: made by Alisha Contreras