Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a novel written by Thomas Hardy, first published in serialized form in 1891 and later as a complete work in 1892. The novel tells the tragic story of Tess Durbeyfield, a poor peasant girl in rural England, who discovers that she is a descendant of the once-noble d’Urberville family. After a series of unsettling events, including a sexual assault and an illegitimate child, Tess faces judgment from her community and struggles to find redemption in a society that harshly judges her for her perceived transgressions. Set in the fictional county of Wessex, Hardy’s novel reflects the social and economic changes of the late 19th century in rural England.

The narrative explores themes of class, morality, and the impact of fate on individuals. Tess’s story is emblematic of the challenges faced by women in a society that imposes rigid moral standards, particularly concerning issues of sexuality and social status. Tess of the d’Urbervilles is considered one of Hardy’s masterpieces, known for its realistic portrayal of characters and its investigation of the human condition. The novel has been praised for its tragic and evocative storytelling, as well as its critique of social norms and injustices.

The themes of Tess of the d’Urbervilles continue to resonate with readers, making it a timeless work in the canon of English literature. The novel has been adapted a number of time, perhaps most notably in the 1979 film Tess, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Natassja Kinski in the title role.

Explore the full plot summary, an in-depth character analysis of Tess Durbeyfield, and explanations of important quotes from Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

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