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
Structure and title page
Division of the text
There are various ways to divide the book up to study it:
- One way would be to keep the divisions of the book when it was first issued as a 3-volume novel. The first and third volumes consisted of 20 chapters; the second of 19
- Another way is to keep Hardy's own divisions, which he called Phases.
If we set the two structures side by side, we have:
|I||1 - 20||20||First||The Maiden||1 - 11||11|
|Second||Maiden No More||12 - 15||4|
|Third||The Rally||16 - 24||9|
|II||21 - 39||19||Fourth||The Consequence||25 - 34||10|
|Fifth||The Woman Pays||35 - 44||10|
|III||40 - 59||20||Sixth||The Convert||45 - 52||8|
|Seventh||Fulfilment||53 - 59||7|
Many of the editions of the novel use Roman numerals for chapter numbers. This was quite common in nineteenth century novels, and was used for all of Hardy's. However, this website will replace them with the more usual Arabic numerals.
The subtitle, added just before the first edition, was the cause of some controversy. It was quite usual for novels to have sub-titles, and even for the words ‘faithfully presented' or some such formula to be used to make the novel seem as real as possible.
Hardy wrote to a friend that ‘the conviction was thrust upon me ... that the heroine was essentially pure – purer than many a so-called unsullied virgin: therefore I called her so.'
The quotation Hardy used would also have been quite typical. Some novelists even had a quotation for every chapter. Hardy's quotation comes from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona I.ii.115-6.
- Can you think of a good reason why Hardy chose to have 59 chapters rather than 60 or are the numbers arbitrary?
- Do you think Hardy's decision to shape the novel into seven phases has any significance?
- What do you notice as you examine Hardy's titles for each phase?
- What do you notice about the relative length of each phase?
- Can you think of a better structure for the division of chapters?
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