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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'Urbervilles


by Thomas Hardy

Analysis: Allusions

When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.


  • William Shakespeare. Alec whistles "Take, O take, those lips away" from Measure for Measure. (9.29)

  • Walt Whitman. "Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, / How curious you are to me! – " (25.6)

  • Byron and Shelley. "Though not cold-natured, he was rather bright than hot – less Byronic than Shelleyan; could love desperately, but his love more especially inclined to the imaginative and ethereal" (31.8)

  • F.J. Child (ed.) The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 5 vols. (1882-98), vol. 1, no. 29. "Guénever". The ballad tells the story of "The Boy and the Mantle," which is about a magic mantle that only the pure could wear. Guinevere, King Arthur's queen, was cheating with Lancelot, and the mantle changed color and betrayed her. (32.54)

  • Algernon Swinburne. Atalanta upon Calydon. ll.1852-5 (35.46)

  • William Shakespeare. King Lear III.ii.60: "More sinned against than sinning." (35.52)

  • Robert Browning. "By the Fireside" (1855), l. 192. (35.78)

  • John Milton, Paradise Lost. Alec quotes Milton, suggesting that she's like Eve, and he's like Satan, come to tempt her in the guise of a "lesser animal," since he's dressed as a commoner. (50.20)

The Bible

  • "Chasten yourself with the thought of "how are the mighty fallen." (1.32)

  • "Perhaps, like that other god of whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or peradventure he was sleeping and was not to be awaked." (11.61)

  • "Thy damnation slumbereth not." (12.51)

  • "Three Leahs to get one Rachel." (23.32)


  • Thomas Malthus. Essay on the Principle of Population (1803). (5.17)

  • Jeremy Taylor (15.4)

  • St. Augustine. (15.2)

Historical References

  • Abbey Roll and William the Conqueror. (1.11)

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