The endings of Frankenstein, Mill on the Floss, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles are very important because the author makes some sort of statement about the characters and passes judgement to some degree on a social issue. In Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the author seems to imply that Tess’s death is not her own fault and is a tragedy, while the deaths of Frankenstein and the monster are justified, and Maggie Tulliver’s death is sympathetic.
Frankenstein ends with Walton wrapping up the story and telling us that Frankenstein is dead and that the monster is leaving to kill himself. The monster regrets his crimes, telling Walton, “You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself…polluted by crimes, and torn by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death?” (220) In this ending, the reader may not be very sympathetic to either Frankenstein or the creature. Frankenstein’s death ends his misery and almost seems a justified recompense for creating the monster. The creature’s death puts an end to his murders and crimes. Shelley implies that these deaths are a good thing, and justified in the eyes of society, especially in that they serve to teach Walton. The ending of Frankenstein also sees the death of a pair: Victor and the monster. Both die, which is something seen in Mill on the Floss, but not Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
In Mill on the Floss, Maggie and Tom die together. While it is an untimely and tragic death, Eliot does write that in death they found unity with one another. “…brother and sister had gone down in an embrace never to be parted: living again in one supreme moment the days when they had clasped their little hands in love, and roamed the daisied fields together” (483). If anything, their death is one that brings peace and understanding to the reader. Maggie’s love for Tom which overarched the novel has finally come to a fruitful conclusion and death has finally freed her from her sufferings. Like Frankenstein, Maggie and Tom are the most important pair in the novel and they die together.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles also ends in the main character’s death. Although Tess seems to have to terms with death, saying “…I am almost glad—yes glad!” (395) she clarifies that she did not want to live long enough for Angel to hate her. Moreover, the moment of her actual death is hollow and somber. The appearance of the black flag signals that “justice was done” but the reader cannot help but feel that Tess suffered more injustice than anyone else in the novel. Hardy not-so-subtly implies that Tess’s death was a tragedy, unjustified, unfair, and unsettling to the readers. The imbalance is accentuated through the fact that Tess alone dies, and not the other half of the pair: Angel.
While Mill on the Floss and Frankenstein both end with the deaths of main characters and bring a sense of peace to the reader, Tess of the d’Urbervilles upsets the audience and leaves them with a sense of injustice. Hardy, like Eliot and Shelley, has passed judgement on the way society ostracizes the fallen person and forces them to be “the other” but Hardy’s novel stands out in that it impacts the injustice. Where the creature’s death was balanced out by his creators, and Maggie’s death balanced by her unity with her beloved brother, Tess’s unfair death only came to her and not Angel. One might argue that Alec is killed by Tess, which balances out her death. However, the relationship between Alec and Tess is not quite the same as those of Frankenstein and the monster or Maggie and Tom. Where those relationships are marked by obligation, familial ties, and hatred or love, Tess and Alec are only connected through Alec’s rape of Tess. Her relationship with Alec is characterized by confusion and fear. Moreover Hardy draws a sharper contrast between Angel—who voluntarily had an affair with a woman—and Tess—who was raped. Where Frankenstein and Mill on the Floss do address injustice in society, I believe Tess of the d’Urbervilles truly explored the impact of it upon the innocent.