Tess Of The Durbervilles Analysis Essay

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...


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...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

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...

The following paper topics are based on the entire book. Following each topic is a thesis and sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper. Each major point in your essay should refer to at least one quote from the novel, properly introduced and explained.

Topic #1
Hardy defines tragedy as “the worthy encompassed by the inevitable” and adds that the tragedies of immoral and worthless people are not of the best. Interpret Tess of the D’Urbervilles as a tragedy, using these ideas.

I. Thesis Statement: Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a tragedy because it depicts the destruction of a morally worthy person by inevitable and unalterable forces outside human control.

II. Tess Durbeyfield is continually depicted as innocent, conscientious, and morally pure
A. The novelist repeatedly uses words such as innocent and pure to describe Tess
B. Her thoughts are always to help her family, not herself
C. She is a creature of Nature
D. Tess is a morally pure woman, despite her actions
1. Hardy’s subtitle shows his evaluation of her
2. Both Angel and Alec accept Tess as pure
3. Tess’s actions of submitting to Alec and later killing him are motivated only by need and desperation
4. Tess shows more moral understanding than anyone else in the novel

III. Tess is brought down by a variety of forces which neither she nor anyone else would have been able to stop
A. Tess is victimized by people more powerful than she
B. The world is malignantly organized to deny human happiness
C. Historical and social forces render Tess vulnerable to exploitation

IV. Tess’s downfall is partially caused by what she cannot help, her ancestry as a D’Urberville
A. She has inherited a slight incautiousness of character from her family
B. She is being paid back for all the ways the ancient D’Urbervilles victimized others when they were powerful
C. The decline of the D’Urberville family is irreversible

V. Hardy depicts Tess’s downfall as one in a series of tragedies representative of human history
A. As Tess says, her life is just like that of thousands before and after her
B. References to classical and Shakespearean tragedy show Tess as related to other tragic victims

Topic #2

(The entire section is 978 words.)

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