Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Sat Mar 11 13:15:56 EST 2000

On Fri, 10 Mar 2000 12:58:42 +0000, Philip.Belben at wrote:

>> And finally, the one Jesus-image Melissa accepted in the book, was of Tess
>> - in that everything she suffered was not her fault.  That certainly
>> relates to Mordion also.  Hence the "suffering servant" line seeming so
>> relevant.  This would only seem to relate to that one aspect of
>> Tess/Mordion, for me at least, so I'm certainly not suggesting that Mordion
>> is a Jesus-figure throughout, any more than Tess is.
>I hadn't spotted Melissa's reference to a Christ-image in Tess.  I certainly
>hadn't connected any of the Christian imagery I found in Hexwood with Tess at

It was sort of a sideways comment.  Basically, Elise's crazy teacher thought
that Angel Clare was a Christ-figure who "redeems" Tess, and I said that if
anyone was a Christ-figure in that book, it was Tess herself.  I don't think
she *is* necessarily, but then it depends on what you think constitutes a
Christ analogue in literature.  I'm not a big fan of that kind of analysis,
myself, probably because I was introduced to it via _The Grapes of Wrath_
and _The Red Badge of Courage_, and it was sort of "Look, the character's
initials are J.C.!  And the character sacrifices himself for others!  Isn't
that AMAZING!!!"  But I do know people who like to stretch to make that
analogy, and my point was simply that if you're going to make that stretch
you ought at least to base it on textual evidence.  (After re-reading the
book, I'm leaning more toward the idea of Tess as Everyman, torn between
Satan (as represented by Alec d'Urberville) and Angel (the angel, and did
Hardy HAVE to be so obvious? :)  It's even more complex because Angel has
serious character flaws and Alec has a few redeeming virtues.)

>I would disagree about the connection here, in fact.  Mordion (and presumably
>Tess) are acted upon, and caused to suffer.  Jesus acts to take the suffering on
>himself.  (This is one reason I don't like the view of Christ, popular among
>some Christians, as a sort of super-scapegoat).

Yeah, me too.  But I'll point out that the wording of Isaiah 53 (one of the
Biblical references for the "suffering servant" imagery Hallie referred to)
is very much "acted upon"--"He was bruised for our transgressions, he was
wounded for our iniquities" etc.  Although Mordion's sufferings are all put
upon him--nobody asked him if he wanted to be tortured by Reigner One--he
acts out of his own strength to turn those sufferings into something
worthwhile.  So I'd say there are similarities, but not a direct connection.
For one thing, he fails to save the children--he only saves himself.  And I
would expect a character who was intended to represent Christ to be more
self-assured and aware of his role, which Mordion isn't.  Still, the
similarities are interesting.

Melissa Proffitt
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