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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'Urbervilles


by Thomas Hardy

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Tess is raped by Alec, and she moves away from home to escape her past and start a new life.

Act II

Tess falls in love with Angel, and though she tries to tell him about her past, she's unable. After they get married, but Angel deserts Tess when she finally reveals that she was raped as a young girl.


Abandoned by her husband, Tess struggles to survive on her own. Eventually, she agrees to marry Alec to save her family from starvation. When Angel unexpectedly returns to her, Tess murders Alec. Though she tries to flee with Angel, she is arrested and then hanged for murder.


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