Sample questions

  1. In what ways might knowledge of the social context in which Tess of the d'Urbervilles was written and first published contribute to an understanding of the novel?

  2. Discuss the ways in which Hardy uses the different locations of Tess of the d'Urbervilles in order to emphasise the themes of the novel.

  3. What might Angel recount in telling the story of his life and Tess's? How would this help the reader to understand the themes of the novel?

  4. Describe the narrative structure of Tess of the d'Urbervilles and discuss how it may affect the reader's understanding of the novel.

  5. To what extent is it useful to see the narrative of Tess of the d'Urbervilles in terms of a quest or a pilgrimage?

  6. Explore the relationship between Tess and the communities in which she lives. Would you say she belongs to them?

  7. Discuss the ways in which Hardy compares and contrasts Alec and Angel.

  8. What are the causes of Tess's feelings of guilt and hesitation? How does Hardy present them and their consequences?

  9. How does Hardy show the relationship of Tess to her family?

  10. Discuss Hardy's narrative method in terms of its silences, ambiguities and ironies.

  11. ‘A male author can never fully expect to portray a woman as she really is.' Discuss this in reference to Hardy's portrayal of Tess.

  12. Explore the relationship between Tess, time and history.

  13. In what ways does Hardy relate Tess to nature?

  14. What patterns of time does Hardy reveal in Tess of the d'Urbervilles? To what extent are such patterns harmful to Tess?

  15. How do you respond to the view that the novel shows “the destruction of the English

Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.