Tess of the D'Urbervilles Study Guide

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Study Guide

Original title:
Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented
Published January 30th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published April 1st 1891)
United Kingdom
ISBN 0141439599 (ISBN13: 9780141439594)

“Tess of the d’Ubervilles” is a novel by Thomas Hardy also entitled “A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented”. The author was born in a rural family of a builder and he couldn’t resist writing about peasant life, outlook, and psychology of the working class.

The novel consists of a couple of parts, they represent the stages in the life of a protagonist Tess. She is a peasant by birth, a lady by circumstance, and a human by calling. One day her father, John Durbeyfield, comes to find out that they are the descendants of a noble family of d’Ubervilles. In the light of these findings, it becomes hard for the old man to hide his natural arrogance and hot temper.

The author vividly depicts that one might change the last name and attribute himself to a royal chevalier generation, but the bones of the ancestors won’t develop the family values and strengthen the will in a person. The daughter is quickly sent to the d’Ubervilles mansion where a man who has no relation to her heritage deceives her.

Tess grows through her hardships and learns to make her own decisions. Her parents or her newly acquired last name didn’t teach her pride and didn’t help her build her self-esteem. But she learnt to do it herself.

The author “gives” the family an instant social boost and they immediately start to think and act differently. Why couldn’t they grow and develop while being poor? Does it automatically mean that if you have no status, you should also have no principles? The limits are in our heads and this particularity of peasant thinking is shown in the text.

The book is a demonstration that to be significant one doesn’t have to be rich. It's a conscious choice to do the things you are doing with your head up high. To perceive life as an opportunity and not a burden is a benefit modern society has, but it took us centuries to arrive at this kind of thinking. The “Tess of the d’Ubervilles” shows this process.

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