Tess of the d'Urbervilles Contents
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Chapters 1-9
- Chapters 10-19
- Chapters 20-29
- Chapters 30-39
- Chapters 40-49
- Chapters 50-59
- Tess as a 'Pure Woman'
- Tess as a secular pilgrim
- Tess as a victim
- The world of women
- Tess as an outsider
- Coincidence, destiny and fate
- Disempowerment of the working class
- Heredity and inheritance
- Laws of nature vs. laws of society
- Nature as sympathetic or indifferent
- Patterns of the past
- Sexual predation
- Inner conflicts: body against soul
The study of how a text works and how it has been put together is part of the appreciation of literature (and vital for exam success!). Unlike many other Victorian novelists, Thomas Hardy opens his work to a variety of interpretations, by apparently guiding the reader's response then undermining such guidance by later events or comments. In the end, readers are left with a number of possible interpretations.
This has generated a large mass of critical material since Tess of the d'Urbervilles was published in 1891. Some of the more recent interpretations, especially those that deconstruct the novel in a postmodernist way, can be very technical and more suited to undergraduate or even graduate levels of study. However, many are perfectly accessible to 'A' level students.
Scan and go
Scan on your mobile for direct link.