hi do you really hate angel more than alec in tess?
Yes. Yes, I do. Emphatically so.
I’ve written about Angel FUCKING Clare before, so I’ll try to keep this brief.
Here’s what makes Angel worse than Alec, for all that Alec is a shallow, selfish, callous rapist. He is endlessly self-obsessed – which shows in his attempt to ‘redeem’ himself. He doesn’t seek to make restitution to Tess because he legitimately feels he ought to minimise the damage he has done to her, no he does because feeling guilty makes him feel bad.
Here’s what makes Angel so terrible. I don’t in any way want to diminish the impact of rape on its victim, but rape does not have to be a life-ruining event. Many, many victims of rape go on to live happy, fulfilling lives. It’s a testament to their strength and courage, of course, but I tend to think that the support (or lack thereof) that they received from their families, and especially their partners, plays a big role in that. Like any other trauma, having a strong support network, can make all the difference in a victim’s recovery.
What ruined Tess’ life was Angel’s reaction to learning she had been raped. If Angel had reacted with compassion and love to that information, the entire tragedy that Tess’ life became wouldn’t have happened. All he had to do was prioritise his wife over his own outraged pride, and the two of them could have lived a long and happy life together.
In other words, Alec may have loaded the gun that destroyed Tess’ life, but Angel is the one who pulled the trigger. And my oh my did he take a self-righteous pleasure in doing so.
(Now, as a side point, one of the weaknesses of the novel, to my mind, is that Tess’ reaction to the rape, specifically, is very underplayed. We get a better sense of her grief at losing her child than of her pain or hurt at Alec’s violation of her).
There are a lot of insufferable literary men out there, but Angel FUCKING Clare is unquestionably the worst. (But Levin in Anna Karenina also damages my calm).