Tess of the D'Urbervilles Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Tess of the D'Urbervilles

The Durbeyfields find out that they are of an ancient but extinct royal lineage of the D'Urbervilles. In an attempt to "claim kin", they send Tess to the Tantridge mansion where she meets Alec D'Urberville. Because Tess has was the cause the death of her family's horse, she feels obligated to earn money to buy a new on. She works at Tantridge but after only a few months there Alec leads her into the Chase, an ancient forest, and rapes her.
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Tess returns home and bares a child which dies after a week. She lives at home for a few years in a silent attempt to reconstruct her life. She still feels that she does not belong so goes to work at a dairy farm far from home.
Here she meets Angel Clare, the son of a famous parson, where she falls in love with him and he with her. Because of Tess's past, she struggles to keep the distance between them. Finally, she succombs to Angel's pleas for marriage. Several tries to inform him of her past fail.
Finally, on the wedding night, Tess reveals it and everything that had happened. In a rage, Angel leaves her to start a farm in Brazil, with a promise of maybe returning someday.
Tess's life gets even worse after this.
The review of this Book prepared by Emily Pearce

When poverty-stricken Tess Durbeyfield discovers she is a descendent of the ancient and noble family of d'Urberville she is sent by her mother to seek out her lost relatives. Little does she realise that the name has been assumed by the wealthy family in order to gain social status.
Tess soon attracts the attentions of her 'uncle' Alec d'Urberville who relentlessly pursues her, eventually committing the most heinous crime of rape.
Tess is plagued by this secret, considering herself impure, and cannot bring herself to tell her true-love Angel- the son of a clergyman.
After their marriage, Tess reveals her secret to Angel and he heartlessly rejects her to earn a living, alone, in Brazil. Tess is forced to find work labouring on farms, her only hope that one day her beloved Angel will return.
A chance meeting with the reformed Alec dashes these hopes as his old obsession returns and he beguiles Tess with promises to help her and her family in place of her long absent husband.
The review of this Book prepared by JoJo

When John Durbeyfield first discovers that his family is descended from the D'Urbervilles of British aristocracy, it seems like his poor family's key to freedom. He sends his older daughter, Tess, to live with the D'Urbervilles, unaware that the current family of D'Urbervilles are imposters.

At the home of these imposters, Tess is raped by the eldest D'Urberville son, Alec. She flees and gives birth to a child conceived by the rape. The infant dies and Tess buries him in secret.

In an attempt to escape her past and start anew, Tess takes a milkmaid job at Talbothay's Dairy where she meets and falls in love with Angel Clare. Angel is a beautiful man who loves Tess deeply, but when he proposes to her, she is torn between lying to him by omission versus telling him of her past with Alec -- a choice that would likely alienate him in the strict morals of Victorian Britain.

After they are married, Tess breaks down and tells Angel of her shameful past. Angel can't cope with it and leaves Tess penniless to travel to Brazil. When both Angel and Alec return to her, she is faced with the choice between them and the disastrous consequences of her decisions.
The review of this Book prepared by Jennifer Martin-Romme

   Tess Durbeyfield is the eldest daughter in a large, poverty stricken family living in the small village of Marlott. Her father, who is prone to drinking and putting off work, discovers by chance that he is a descendant of the noble family of D'uberville. Her mother, Joan, discovers that a wealthy family of the same name lives in a nearby town and, after an unfortunate accident in which the Durbeyfields' only horse is killed, she sends Tess to go and "claim kin".
   Such is the beginning of Tess' undoing... Alec Stokes D'urberville (a "cousin" who allows Tess to claim kinship, but is a relative in name only) takes a liking to the young and impressionable Tess, who is coerced into a sexual relationship with him.
   Tess escapes Alec and gives birth to a child, who dies very early on. Later, Tess attempts to escape her troubled past by working as a dairymaid at a distant farm. Here she meets her true love, who may or may not accept her after hearing of her secret relationship with Alec.

The review of this Book prepared by Jennifer Wood

Tess Durbeyfield's life is suddenly changed for the worse when her father learns that their family is of noble lineage. In a series of events gone awry, Tess, unable to act for herself, decides to go work for their nobleman "relatives," where she meets Alec d'Urberville, who eventually rapes Tess and to whom she bears a child, though it dies shortly afterward. Torn by shame and regret, Tess decides to go to work away from home. At the dairy farm, she falls in love with Angel Clare, and eventually the two wed. He, however, is unwilling to forgive her past and the two seperate. In desperation and poverty, Tess returns to her seducer, who she murders for the sake of reclaiming Angel's love. However, their happiness is not long lived as the authorities come for Tess.
The review of this Book prepared by Angela Allan

A young na´ve country girl becomes pregnant by an unprincipled upper class man. The child dies and Tess marries but when her new husband finds out about her past he leaves her. Tess is one of the most tragic heroines in English literature and Hardy shows her as a victim of circumstance caught up in a moral dilemma.   Hardy takes us into nineteenth century rural Wessex and describes his characters, the countryside and the way of life so well we think we are there.
The review of this Book prepared by Penny

When Tess Durbyfield's family fall on hard times she is sent to the D'Urbervilles, rich landowners who are mistakenly assumed to be realtions. Tess is seduced by Alec D'Urberville and has an illegitimate child, who dies. She then goes to work on a farm where she meets Angel Claire, who she falls in love with and marries. He then forsakes her on their wedding night when she confesses about her past. Her family suffer further losses and, abandoned as she is, Tess is obliged to turn once again to Alec D'Urberville for help. When Angel returns to find her living as Alec's mistress, she taks desperate actions in a tragic effort to free herself. This was a very controversial book at the time of writing as it is sympathetic to a 'fallen woman'.
The review of this Book prepared by Bryn Pearson

Chapter Analysis of Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1600-1899 Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   marriage/relationship going to pieces Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   rape Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Pregnancy/Child rearing    -   Yes Major part of story:    -   dealing with unexpected pregnancy Love problems?    -   Obession with uninterested person

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Farm/Ranch?    -   Yes Farm/Ranch:    -   farm    -   lot of descript of crop raising    -   lot of descript of animal care

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   rape/molest Weird Victorian/Shakespearean English?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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