Four main characters (and one-sentence description of each)
Tess Durbeyfield - She is the main character who is raped, then married, but shunned by her husband because of the rape while before they were married, he had an affair.
Alec d’Urberville - He is a man believed by the Durbeyfield’s to be a relative, but Tess finds out that he is no relative. He falls in love with Tess and rapes her.
Angel Clare - Tess met him at Talbothay’s farm and they fell in love to later get married but separated immediately after the marriage.
Joan Durbeyfield - She is Tess’ mother who pushed Tess to find help in the d’Urbervilles only to get Tess raped, and tells Tess to never mention the rape or the child to anyone.
Two minor characters (and one-sentence description of each)
Marian - She was a worker at Talbothay’s with Tess and fell in love with Angel like Tess, but after Tess married Angel, she remained strong and helped Tess find work after Angel left.
The Clare’s - These are the members of Angel’s family who did not know of Tess’ problems, but would have helped her if they did.
Three main settings (and one-sentence description of each)
Marlott - This is Tess’ home town where she grew up and returned to after the incident at the d’Urbervilles.
Alec d’Urberville’s house - Tess went to stay at this house after their family fell in need and sought help from the supposed relatives.
Talbothays - Trying to find a new life, Tess came here and met Angel whom she fell in love with and married despite competition from three other girls.
One paragraph plot outline
The father of the Durbeyfield household is wandering home when he is told that he is of the ancient line of the d’Urbervilles, a once powerful family. Knowing this, he returns home happy and relays the news to his family. Although being from a once great family, his current family is in need and decides to seek help from relatives by the name of d’Urberville. The family sent Tess to ask them for help. Tess went and began working for them. However, she finds out that they are not truly of the d’Urberville line and simply changed their names to d’Urberville. Also, she finds out that the son of the house, Alec, is not of good character. He rapes her and she gets pregnant. She leaves for home in a bad mood. Gives birth, and works with the other girls in the fields. The baby dies and Tess decides to look for a new life elsewhere where no one knows of her and the incident after promising herself that she would never get married. She ends up at Talbothays working as a milk maid. There, she meets three girls and a man, Angel Clare, working there. She and the other three girls like Angel, but Angel picks Tess out of the three. They fall in love, and get married. However, Tess never told Angel about the rape and the child until the night after the wedding. Although he had an affair before the wedding, he grows furious and leaves her to go to America where he grows ill. In the meantime, Tess returns home distraught and seeks to flee from her troubles. She meets Alec who still loves her and keeps pressing her to marry him saying that Angel is never going to come back. Marian, one of the girls who liked Angel, finds Tess work at the farm she works at. There she works for a year before deciding to live with Alec. She lives with Alec for a while before Angel comes back expressing his continuing love for her. However, to leave Alec, she murders him and leaves with Angel. They stay in a house on the way home for a week. However, when they leave, Tess is arrested for murder and executed. Angel marries Tess’ younger sister as Tess’ last wish.
Two symbols and references
The pillar with the hand print - This pillar symbolizes Tess’ guilt of adultery and murder. Alec says that it was erected by the druid’s for some punishment, while others say it was a cross. Tess was arrested after sleeping by it.
Tess’ baby - This baby symbolized Tess’ bad circumstances which was out of Tess’ control. It symbolizes innocence in a sense since this baby was innocent having done nothing wrong, but it was punished by society for coming from such an evil act. Having been raped, Tess was also innocent of the crime, but she was still punished and pushed aside by society.
Two or three sentences on style
Hardy’s writing style is simple but wordy. His sentence structures are not long or very complicated, but the complexity in his work comes from the way he uses several sentences. For example, he uses a lot of imagery and describes the scenery in great detail. While each individual sentence may not be difficult to understand, it is the way the various sentences fit together to form a whole picture which separates him from other authors.
One or two sentences on dominant philosophy
This book deals with the oppression of an innocent girl. Most of the consequences she faced were not consequences of her own actions which makes this story somewhat of a tragedy in that sense giving the book a mood that you can try to make for yourself a good life, but you do not determine your own outcome.
Four short quotations typical of the work (include speaker, occasion)
“’Well it’s true. Throw up your chin a moment, so that I may catch the profile of your face better. Yes, that’s the d’Urberville nose and chin--a little debased. Your ancestor was one of the twelve knights who assisted the Lord of Estremavilla in Normandy in his conquest of Glamorganshire. Branches of your family held manors over all this part of England; their names appear in the pipe rolls in the time of King Stephen. In the reign of King John one of them was rich enough to give a manor to the Knights Hospitallers; ... In short,’ concluded the parson, decisively smacking his leg with his switch, ‘there’s hardly such another family in England.’” This is where the parson tells Durbeyfield of his great heritage causing him to search for help in other d’Urbervilles. Although the parson regrets telling Durbeyfield this news, the tone in which he said it show that he was trying to cheer Durbeyfield up.
“Let me put one little kiss on those holmberry lips, Tess, or even on that warmed cheek, and I’ll stop--on my honour, I will!” Alec says this to Tess while driving her to his house. He drives too fast for Tess and says he’ll slow down if she’ll give him a kiss. This shows his low character and foreshadows the future pains he will give her.
“’O Tess, forgiveness does not apply to the case! You were one person; now you are another. My God--how can forgiveness meet such a grotesque--prestidigitation as that!’” Angel says this to Tess after they revealed their sins to one another. He displays his hypocrisy here. While he committed a similar crime (worse in my opinion) of having an affair, he will not forgive Tess of being raped while she wholeheartedly forgives him.
“’What is it Angel?’ she said, starting up. ‘Have they come for me? ... It is as it should be.... Angel, I am almost glad--yes, glad! This happiness could not have lasted. It was too much. I have had enough; and now I shall not live for you to despise me! ... I am ready.” Tess says this to Angel after finding the soldiers who had come to arrest her. This statements shows that she is ready to go and knows the gravity of her murder. She knew before that incident that she could not live happy after committing such a crime and knew that she had to face the consequences. She died at peace knowing that she was made right with Angel.