The passage of time always seems out of whack in Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Because of the sudden changes described in the "Contrasting Regions" theme, different parts of the country, and even different characters, seem to be from different historical eras. Tess's parents live in the past, but Tess, who has had a better education, is very much a modern girl. Parts of their day-to-day lives are untouched by modern inventions, but then an ultra-sleek train zooms past and reminds them and the reader that the times are changing.
Because so many characters and places in Tess of the D'Urbervilles seem to be out of sync with the passage of time, it is easy to read Tess herself as a pseudo-mythic timeless figure.
Although so many characters and places in Tess of the D'Urbervilles seem to be out of sync with the passage of time, readers should not fall into the trap of reading Tess, who is a unique and complex character, as a mythic "every woman."