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Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Thomas Hardy




_____ 1. In Hardy's novels, the region he grew up in is called

    A. Wessex
    B. Dorset
    C. Blackmoor
_____ 2. In the clash between agrarian England and the industrial age, Tess is
    A. stuck in the old ways of thinking
    B. in tune with modern life
    C. caught between the two
_____ 3. Hardy weaves imagery around the colors
    A. black and white
    B. green and gold
    C. red and white
_____ 4. The ideal working farm is shown in
    A. The Slopes
    B. Talbothays Dairy
    C. Flintcomb-Ash
_____ 5. At the Club Walking, Tess is disappointed when
    A. her father tells her about his noble lineage
    B. the stranger Angel Clare doesn't dance with her
    C. her parents are both drunk
_____ 6. Tess agrees to visit the rich d'Urberville relatives because
    A. she feels guilty for killing the family cart horse
    B. she's attracted to Alec d'Urberville
    C. she's tired of poverty
_____ 7. After her baby Sorrow is born, Tess is distressed because
    A. she cannot bring herself to love it
    B. the parson refuses to baptize it
    C. it dies and must be buried in unholy ground
_____ 8. Joan Durbeyfield contributes to her daughter's downfall by
    I. making her proud of her ancient lineage;
    II. dressing her up to attract Alec d'Urberville;
    III. advising her not to tell Angel about her child by Alec.
    A. I only
    B. I and II only
    C. II and III only
_____ 9. Angel Clare's religion
    A. strict Evangelicalism
    B. atheism, mixed with pagan nature worship
    C. cold Victorian rationalism
_____ 10. Angel can't forgive Tess for her past because
    A. he has idealized her as a virginal figure of rustic purity]
    B. he's violently opposed to premarital sex
    C. he doesn't want to support another man's child

11. Discuss whether or not you think Tess is a victim.

12. Discuss Tess' love for Angel Clare.

13. Discuss the color red in Tess.

14. Do you agree or disagree with Hardy that Tess is a pure woman?

15. Compare and contrast Angel and Alec.


_____ 1. Before he became a novelist, Thomas Hardy was

    A. a poet
    B. an architect
    C. a dairy farmer
_____ 2. Several times Tess is likened to
    A. a hunted beast
    B. an enduring rock
    C. a racing train
_____ 3. The harsh aspects of nature are embodied in the setting of
    A. The Slopes
    B. Talbothays
    C. Flintcomb-Ash
_____ 4. Tess has inherited from her mother Joan
    A. a devil-may-care attitude
    B. a peasant's sturdy sense of survival
    C. a hunger for education
_____ 5. Pagan Stonehenge is the dramatic setting where Tess is
    A. raped
    B. arrested
    C. hanged
_____ 6. The Stoke-d'Urbervilles are frauds because
    A. they live off the land
    B. their house is new and modern
    C. they took the unused d'Urberville title
_____ 7. Alec d'Urberville's courtship of Tess is symbolized in
    A. a frightening, careening buggy ride
    B. the act of carrying Tess across a wide puddle
    C. a fierce, devouring farm machine
_____ 8. When Tess comes home pregnant, her mother is angry because
    A. there will be one more mouth to feed
    B. Tess has lost her virginity
    C. Tess didn't force Alec to marry her
_____ 9. Tess is afraid to tell Angel:
    I. that she's been married before;
    II. that she's not a virgin;
    III. that she's a member of an ancient aristocratic family.
    A. II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I, II, and III
_____ 10. Tess yields to Alec's offer of protection because
    A. her family needs help
    B. Angel writes back that he can't forgive her
    C. she has been injured by the threshing machine

11. Discuss the importance of landscapes and environments in Tess.

12. Discuss Tess' parents and their role in her fortunes.

13. Discuss Hardy's writing style.

14. Discuss Tess' d'Urberville heritage.

15. Discuss the dairymaids and what purposes they serve in Tess.


  1. A
  2. C
  3. C
  4. B
  5. B
  6. A
  7. C
  8. C
  9. B
  10. A

11. In order to answer this question, you have to consider all the ways in which Tess is a victim and all the ways in which she isn't.

To show that she is a victim, discuss the ways in which she lets people manipulate her, particularly her parents, Alec d'Urberville, and Angel Clare. You may also want to look at how she often lets fate decide what will happen to her; or how she lets society's opinion of the unchaste woman demoralize her.

You'll also want to write about the images that Hardy uses to express Tess' victimization. Mention, for instance, how she lets Angel place her in an open coffin and, later, how she lies on the sacrificial altar at Stonehenge, refusing to flee from the police. You can devote a paragraph to the way in which she's compared to hunted animals. Also discuss the idea of Tess as a victim of circumstance. Use such examples as Prince's death and her fatigue at moments of crisis.

When you discuss Tess not as a victim but as a woman who takes responsibility for her actions, discuss her temperamental but independent character. Note how: (a) she continues to reject Alec and even hits him with her glove, (b) she takes care of her family and always finds ways to support herself; (c) she refuses to blindly follow religious dogmas; (d) she behaves, in the end, like an heroic martyr, sacrificing herself so that society will be forced to reconsider how it judges people.

12. First discuss the nature of Tess' love- is it realistic, romantic, sexual, or spiritual? If you think it's all these things, talk about how they intermix in her character. Does she see Angel for what he is or does she worship him? Try to isolate aspects of her love that help her and those that hinder her. On one hand, Angel exposes her to a new world and lifts her out of her melancholy. On the other hand, she's driven to accept Angel's rejection and continues to punish herself for not being his ideal. She destroys herself because of her love.

Discuss the object of Tess' affections, Angel Clare. Is he worthy of her love? Discuss his good points, such as his sensitivity and willingness to educate her. Also include several examples of how his snobbishness and adherence to a rigid moral code hurt her.

In your final paragraph try to reach some conclusions about what Hardy thinks love is. Do you think he believes that Tess is an ideal lover? Do you agree with him?

13. You'll want to make a list of all the times the color red appears in the novel, from the roses Alec gives Tess, to the monstrous red threshing machine, to the shedding of blood. Divide these images into two groups- the positive, life-affirming ones and the negative, violent ones. Toward the conclusion of your paper, consider why Hardy uses the same color to represent concepts as opposite as life and death, creation and destruction, love and hate.

14. First you'll have to gather examples of Tess' purity, such as her goodness and kindness. Then find examples of her lack of purity, such as her loss of virginity and her murder of Alec.

Next state Hardy's view of purity. Remember, he judges people more by their will to do good than by what they actually do. Relate the circumstances in which Tess commits her crimes. Do the instances absolve her in Hardy's mind or in your own?

Lastly you'll have to say whether or not you share Hardy's viewpoint. You may want to concentrate on the murder issue. Can a pure woman commit murder? Why or why not?

15. You won't be able to say everything about these two characters in one essay, so you must pick a few major points on which they can best be compared and contrasted.

Your first paragraph should describe these men in physical, emotional, and psychological terms. Do they change or grow? How?

Your second paragraph should discuss their differences. You may want to contrast the different ways they treat Tess, or compare Angel's spirituality to Alec's sensuality.

Your third paragraph should discuss the ways in which they are alike. For example, both contribute to Tess' doom. They also share a common heritage as modern, middle-class Victorian males.

In your final paragraph consider how both men help her and how they both contribute to her ruin.


  1. A
  2. A
  3. C
  4. B
  5. B
  6. C
  7. A
  8. C
  9. B
  10. A

11. There are two ways to approach this question. You can either write about Hardy's view of nature and man's place in it; or you can discuss how nature in Tess reflects the characters' feelings.

For the first approach, gather evidence from the novel about how Hardy sees nature. Remember to include his vision of nature as the core of all life, and his view of man as a small part of the universe. Also discuss how life goes on, following its natural rhythms, regardless of what happens to individuals. Consider nature both as a friend to man, as at Talbothays, and as a foe to man, as at Flintcomb-Ash.

If you wish to write about nature as a reflection of human perception, you'll have to take a careful look at how the characters see the landscape. Remember that Tess can see the world as beautiful one moment and ugly the next, especially when her mood changes. You may also want to discuss how we can tell what individual characters are feeling by how the landscape is described.

12. First, you'll want to describe Joan and John- how they are different and how they are alike. Be sure to include their social class differences and their personality differences. Discuss the traits Tess shares with each of them.

13. You'll want to devote a paragraph to each of Hardy's narrative techniques. The primary ones to consider are realistic storytelling; philosophical asides; balladry; poetry; and a classical tragic style that depends on coincidence and fate. Give concrete examples of each of these styles and discuss the purpose each serves in terms of forwarding the plot, expanding the themes, and developing the characters.

Secondly you'll want to discuss how Hardy jumps from one style to another and how he interweaves them. Then you should discuss the ways these techniques work together to create a single vision of the world.

14. Devote one paragraph to the social and folkloric implications of Tess' d'Urberville background. What does being part of the fallen aristocracy mean to a poor country lass? Discuss how her noble heritage causes her trouble, and how it helps her stay proud and independent. You may also want to discuss how her title affects others. For example, Angel romanticizes it until he finds out that she is an unchaste woman; then he says that old titles are like dead wood.

15. First you'll want to include some ideas on what these girls are like, citing specific differences in their personalities. Then you'll want to consider what parts they play in Tess' life and fortunes- how they mirror her romanticism and how they help her.

Lastly write about how they bring some comedy to Tess' sad story. Consider in detail the bedroom scenes at Talbothays in which they all sigh and moon over Angel Clare. Consider how they serve as a classical Greek chorus to Tess' plight, translating the action from the specific to the universal by representing women hopelessly in love.

[Tess of the D'Urbervilles Contents]


  1. Discuss Tess' sense of responsibility. Does she take on too much or too little?
  2. Discuss Alec d'Urberville. Is he a complete villain or does he have some redeeming qualities?
  3. Discuss the theme of the old social order versus the new. Compare characters and environments that exemplify both.
  4. Compare 'Liza-Lu with Tess. Is 'Liza-Lu a pure, inexperienced version of Tess?
  5. Discuss Angel's spirituality and Alec's sensuality. Discuss the fact that Tess incorporates both these traits in her personality.
  6. Discuss images of fog in Tess. Use specific examples to show what fog imagery means.
  7. Discuss the legend of the d'Urberville coach and the way it foreshadows the novel's action.
  8. Discuss coincidence and accident in the novel. Do these contrivances shape the characters' destinies as much as many of them believe they do?
  9. Compare and contrast Talbothays Dairy and Flintcomb-Ash.
  10. Discuss Dairyman Crick's stories about the philanderer Jack Dollop. How do these stories color the action? How do they affect Tess' decisions?
  11. What is the significance of the jewels that are given to Tess on her wedding night?
  12. Discuss Angel's sleepwalking and what it says about his true feelings for Tess.
  13. Discuss Hardy's use of images of domesticated and wild birds.
  14. Compare Tess' and Angel's parents. How do both affect their children?
  15. Discuss Tess' goals. What do you think they are? Does she achieve them?
  16. What does the nameless engineer of the threshing machine represent? How does Hardy achieve his frightening effects here?
  17. Discuss the significance of The Chase.
  18. What does mistletoe symbolize in Tess? Show how its meaning changes as the characters' fortunes change.
  19. Tess is a heroine, but she does have flaws. Discuss these flaws and the ways in which they lead to her destruction.
  20. Discuss Tess' victimization. Consider her as a victim of society, of other characters, of herself, and of fate.
  21. Discuss the use of Biblical quotations in Tess.
  22. What is the significance of Stonehenge?
  23. Discuss life at Talbothays. How is it an earthly paradise?
  24. Discuss all the omens and signs mentioned in Tess.
  25. Discuss the use of fire imagery. In particular consider how the hearth scenes reflect the passions of Tess and Angel.
  26. Discuss Tess and her family at Kingsbere. What is the significance of their sleeping outside their ancestral vaults?
  27. Discuss Tess' beauty. How does it help her? How does it hinder her?
  28. Discuss irony in Tess. Give examples and discuss its purpose.

[Tess of the D'Urbervilles Contents]



Marriage papers

A blood and fat variety of sausage.



The iron crossbar in a fireplace, on which a pot is hung.


A portable sewing kit.

A chicken peddler, one who buys and sells chickens.


Problem; sticky situation.

Derogatory term for a farm worker, used in Hardy's day.

One who buys worn-out animals or their carcasses to make into fertilizer or animal food.

Area full of flintrock.


Tenant for life.

From the expression "to get green malt in flour," meaning to become pregnant.

A crowd.

How much alcohol one has drunk after going to market.

A scarecrow.

Mid-morning or afternoon snack for field workers.


To swell.

Mashed apples to be made into cider.

Supple, pliant.

To labor.

Cross, obstructive.

A spade for digging up thistles.

A person who does odd jobs, usually with a horse and wagon.


A one-horse carriage, usually rented.

Snickered, neighed.



THE STORY, continued

ECC [Tess of the D'Urbervilles Contents] []

© Copyright 1984 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.

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