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Analysis

Literary Devices in Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

These two colors come up all over the place in Tess, frequently together. OK, having made that observation, let's look at a few examples, and think about why Hardy might have considered those color...

Setting

Tess of the D'Urbervilles takes place in the late 19th century (a.k.a., the Victorian period, or during the reign of Queen Victorian, 1837-1901), in an area of England to the southwest of London. A...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator of Tess of the D'Urbervilles gives us what critics call a "sympathetic inside view" of only two or three characters: Tess (of course), Angel, and, sometimes, Alec. We're frequently all...

Genre

Tragedies typically tell the story of a great or important protagonist whose ambition causes their fall from happiness. Well, this isn't quite the way it works in Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Tess is...

Tone

When the narrator is describing the landscape, he adopts the tone of a passing observer – someone who is interested in what's going on, but not someone who's really invested in any of it. Dur...

Writing Style

Some of the vocabulary may be difficult, but that's only because it was written a hundred years ago. The style of prose is actually quite simple: the sentences are short, and the author gets right...

What's Up With the Title?

"Tess of the D'Urbervilles" is the name of the heroine – sort of. There's a lot of discussion about what Tess should be called, and the change in her last name from the common-sounding "Durbe...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

…Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bedShall lodge thee. – W. ShakespeareThe epigraph is taken from a play by William Shakespeare called Two Gentlemen of Verona (I.ii.115-116), and in the...

What's Up With the Ending?

Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a tragedy (see "Booker's Seven Basic Plot Analysis" if you don't believe us). But it's not a traditional tragedy, in that Tess's fate is caused not by her own ambition,...

Plot Analysis

Starvation looms for the Durbeyfields. But they find out they have noble blood.Jack Durbeyfield learns from the local parson that he's actually descended from the ancient, noble family of the D'Urb...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Tragedy

Tess's family is tough shape financially, so her parents send her to ask for help from their distant "relatives," the D'Urbervilles.Typically, the protagonist in a tragedy is ambitious, and tries t...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Tess is raped by Alec, and she moves away from home to escape her past and start a new life.Tess falls in love with Angel, and though she tries to tell him about her past, she's unable. After they...

Trivia

Hardy had a difficult time finding a publisher for Tess of the D'Urbervilles because of all the sexy stuff. (Source: Dolin, Tim, ed. "A History of the Text."Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Womanb...

Steaminess Rating

There's a whole lot of sex in this novel. In fact, the novel was considered too risqué when it was first written, and Hardy had a hard time finding a publisher willing to print it. He finally...

Allusions

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...
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