Tess of the d urbervilles краткое содержание на английском

Tess – Daughter of a Poor Man

John Durbeyfield is a poor man and is the father of Tess. He is stunned to find that he belonged to an ancient noble family. Tess, her daughter exchange glanced with a man in the May Day Dance in the village.

Tess’s father sends her to D’Urbervilles palace to make fortune. But she is shocked to find that she and her family had no relation with D’Urbervilles because the owner of the palace Simon Stokes simply changed his name after retirement to D’Urbervilles.

Tess is Raped

Alec, who is the son of Simon somehow gets her a job in the palace. Tess disagrees first but later agrees. Tess has resisted seduction from Alec but one night he takes advantage of her in the woods.

Tess returns home and gives birth to a boy named Sorrow. Sorrow dies soon after he is born. Tess later finds a job as a milkmaid.

Marriage with Angel

One day she meets Angel Clare. Angel was the same man with whom she had exchanged glances during May Day Dance. Their love slowly started growing. And they both married.

Tess wanted to tell about her past but she could not tell. One day, she writes a letter and slides it under his door but it slides under the carpet and Angel could not read it.

After the wedding, they both confess careless acts they did in the past, Angel tells about his affair with a woman in London. Tess tells about Alec and her dead son.

Tess is Left Alone

Tess forgives Angel but Angel cannot forgive her and he leaves her alone and goes to Brazil. He said to Tess not to follow him and he himself will come for her. Tess had a difficult time.

One day, she hears a preacher and is shocked to find that he was Alec. When Tess meets Alec, he begs her not to tempt him again. But a few days later Alec begs Tess to marry him as he has turned his back on religious ways.

Tess learns from her sister Liza-Lu that her mother is unwell. Tess returns home. Her mother recovers but her father dies.

Angel & Alec Appear

Angel finally returns and starts searching for Tess. Angel was told that Tess has gone to a village called Sandbourne. When Angel reached there, he finds Tess in a boarding house.

He tells her that he has forgiven her and begs her to come back. Tess says that it is too late now and she cannot return to him. In that Boarding house, Alec also comes. Tess is heart-broken. She goes upstairs and stabs Alec to death.

When the owner of the boarding house finds the dead body of Alec, she raises an alarm. She seeks help from Angel and they both hide the body in a place for a few days.

Tess is Hanged

Tess is arrested by a search party at Stonehenge and is sent to jail. Angel and Liza-Lu are present outside the prison when a black flag is raised. That black flag means that “Tess is executed or Hanged”.


Tess of the D’Urbervilles is an 1891 novel by Thomas Hardy. It was originally serialised in a newspaper called The Graphic. Hardy’s novel follows a young English girl, Tess Durbeyfield, as she goes through life and tries to support her family. Tess faces a lot of suffering and hardship along the way.

Below is a summary of Tess of the D’Urbervilles along with an exploration of its genre. You will also find an analysis of the text, including an examination of its themes and its characters.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Content Warning, StudySmarter

Content warning: This explanation includes discussions of sexual abuse and harassment.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles: summary

Overview: Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Author of Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
Genre Social realism novel
Literary Period Victorian
First published 1891
Brief summary of Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • The novel explores Tess Durbeyfield, a poor and innocent young woman who becomes the victim of social and moral injustices in Victorian England.
  • Tess’s father, John Durbeyfield, discovers that his family is descended from the noble D’Urbervilles and sends Tess to seek help from their wealthy relatives. Tess meets Alec D’Urberville, who seduces her and ruins her reputation.
List of main characters Tess Durbeyfield, Alec D’Urberville, Jack Durbeyfield, Joan Durbeyfield, Angel Clark
Themes Women and gender equality, justice, fate, morality, and social class.
Setting 1870s Wessex, a region in Southern England.
Analysis A critique of the oppressive and unjust social system of Victorian England. Through the tragic story of Tess Durbeyfield, Hardy shows how social class, gender, and morality were used to control and punish women, and calls for social and moral reform of Victorian society.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles: plot

Thomas Hardy’s tale centres on Tess Durbeyfield, a sixteen-year-old girl that lives in the rural English countryside. Tess is beautiful, intelligent, and capable. She is much more capable than her own parents, John and Joan Durbeyfield. Her father is an irresponsible heavy drinker and her mother is old-fashioned and superstitious.

Tess, meanwhile, is described as a tragic figure, caught between the expectations of society and her own desires. She is a victim of the rigid social hierarchy of Victorian England, where women are held to strict moral standards and are punished for any deviation from those standards.

The novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles is organised into seven ‘phases’ and is set in rural Wessex.

Wessex is a term Thomas Hardy created that includes South and South-West England. It is an imaginary region that he first used as a setting for his novel Far From the Madding Crowd (1874). Readers became so intrigued by this idyllic rural region that they created guidebooks to literary landmarks. Hardy didn’t want Wessex to be interpreted as a literal place, so in the preface of Far From the Madding Crowd he included that Wessex was ‘a merely realistic dream country (preface)’.

Phase one: The Maiden

In this phase, we are introduced to the Durbeyfield family. They live in rural Wessex, a fictional place invented by Thomas Hardy. They are also quite poor. John Durbeyfield discovers that they are descended from an aristocratic family called the D’Urbervilles. He and Joan are very pleased by this new status.

They go to the local pub, spend lots of money and get very drunk. Joan wants Tess to travel to where there is a local wealthy family by the name of D’Urberville and announce they are related. Joan hopes to gain wealth and status by doing this. Tess refuses as she has strong morals and believes this would be inappropriate and humiliating.

John Durbeyfield has a trip planned to a market to earn money for the family. However, he is unable to go after drinking so much and Tess must go instead. Tess succeeds in selling her goods but the family horse, Prince, is involved in an accident that kills him. Prince was key to the family making their money and Tess feels deeply guilty about this. Due to this guilt, Tess agrees to go to the wealthy D’Urberville family’s estate at Trantridge and seek work.

Tess is greeted by the son of the family, Alec. He is clearly infatuated with her and gets Tess a job caring for the family’s poultry. Tess soon discovers the D’Urberville family earned the name by trade and not inheritance. Her family is in no way related to theirs. Alec continues to pursue Tess while she works there.

One night he lures her into a secluded area. Although Hardy does not explicitly say it, it is implied that Tess is raped by Alec.

Phase two: Maiden No More

Tess leaves Trantridge after this incident. She is now pregnant and returns home to her family to give birth. Joan wishes for Tess to contact Alec and force him to help with their child in some way.

Tess’s strong morals prevent her from doing this. It is now more difficult for Tess to exist in her rural community as an unmarried mother was considered very shameful in this society.

Tess gives birth to a boy and names him Sorrow. He is very weak and does not survive long. Sorrow does not live long enough to be baptised and so Tess does this herself after her son’s death. She then buries him in an empty corner of the local cemetery. This is a very dark time in Tess’s life.

Phase three: The Rally

Tess mourns her lost son for a long time. But she eventually must work again to earn money. Tess takes a job as a milkmaid at Talbothays farm. Here she meets Angel Clare. He is clearly interested romantically in Tess and she reciprocates these feelings.

Angel is training to be a farmer but he is from a wealthy background. His father is a clergyman but Angel could not follow in his footsteps as he is very sceptical about religion. Tess and Angel court for some time. They gradually fall in love.

Courting is an old-fashioned version of dating. However, it had strict rules. Courting was a period before a potential marriage in which a couple would spend time together and get to know each other.

Phase four: The Consequence

Angel is slightly uneasy about proposing to Tess as he believes his parents won’t approve of her working-class background. The reveal of her aristocratic roots and her intelligence and grace help ease this. This intelligence also encourages Angel to tutor Tess. She is a very good pupil and learns much from Angel. This includes his scepticism of religion.

Eventually, Tess and Angel are set to be married. Tess fears Angel discovering what Alec did to her and the child she lost. She is afraid he will see her as impure. Joan advises Tess to keep her past secret. Tess instead attempts to tell Angel of her past multiple times. All of these attempts fail.

Tess and Angel marry and embark on their honeymoon. While on honeymoon, Angel confesses he once had an affair with an older woman. He asks Tess to forgive him and she does. Encouraged by this, Tess confesses her own past. Angel is horrified and ends their marriage. He leaves for South America and Tess is forced to return to her family home.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Portrait of Thomas Hardy, StudySmarterFig. 1 — The author of Tess of the D’Urbervilles calls for social and moral reform of Victorian society, which is portrayed as an oppressive society in the novel.

Phase five: The Woman Pays

Tess gives her family the money Angel has given her but this soon runs out. She takes a harsh and difficult job at Flintcomb-Ash Farm. In desperation, Tess makes the trip to Angel’s family home to ask for help. She panics and changes her mind at the last minute and leaves. On her way back, Tess passes a church where someone is preaching. This man turns out to be Alec D’Urberville.

Phase six: The Convert

Alec tells Tess he has converted and is trying to repent for his sins. Tess is very sceptical of this and voices it to Alec. Alec forces her to swear she will never ‘tempt’ him again. This makes his view of what has happened between them clear.

Alec now begins to pursue Tess again. He tells her that her scepticism convinced him to leave religious life and he now wants to marry her because of their past. Alec continually offers financial help to Tess and the Durbeyfield family but she continually rejects him. Both Tess’s parents fall ill and her father dies.

The Durbeyfield family is evicted and has very little income. Tess attempts to move the family around and earn enough money for herself, her mother, and all her siblings. She fails and gives in to Alec. He will provide the family with stability and shelter if Tess lives with him as his wife. Tess and her family move into the Trantridge estate.

Phase seven: Fulfilment

Angel’s business ventures in South America fail badly. He also feels deep guilt over how he treated Tess. Angel returns to try and make things right. He finds Tess living in a boarding house with Alec as his wife. The two have a conversation and Tess rejects Angel and his apologies. She sends him away.

Hardy then switches perspectives to the landlady of the boarding house. She sees a red stain seeping through the ceiling, clearly from the room above. This is Tess and Alec’s room. It soon becomes clear Tess has stabbed and killed Alec. She leaves the boarding house and chases Angel. Tess explains to Angel what has happened and the two go on the run from the police for several days. It is clear he cares deeply for her.

Tess and Angel end up at Stonehenge. Tess seems to have accepted her fate. She makes Angel promise to marry her younger sister ‘Liza-Lou. The next morning the police surround Stonehenge and Tess is arrested for murder.

Hardy ends Tess of the D’Urbervilles with Angel and ‘Liza-Lou walking away hand in hand. They are walking away from a black flag being raised over the prison Tess was in. This indicates Tess has been executed for her crimes.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles: characters

Tess of the D’Urbervilles characters Description Traits
Tess Durbeyfield The central character. She is only sixteen years old but she is the eldest child in her family. She works very hard to support her family. Tess is mistreated and abused by Alec D’Urberville. She marries Angel Clark but this does not last when he finds out about her past. Tess has many struggles throughout the novel and comes to a tragic end after her murder of Alec. Kind. Sensitive. Hardworking. Abused.
Joan Durbeyfield The mother of Tess and wife of Jack. She is irresponsible and cares very much about social status. She is aware of how her society judges people. Tess also often goes to Joan for advice but this advice is not always very helpful. Irresponsible. Superstitious. Old-fashioned.
Jack Durbeyfield The father of Tess and husband of Joan. He, like Joan, is quite irresponsible. Jack is also a heavy drinker. He often abandons his obligations to support his family in favour of alcohol. This leaves Tess to carry out these obligations instead. Alcoholic. Frivolous. Lazy.
Alec D’Urberville A wealthy man that abuses Tess. He comes from a family that has made their name in trade. Alec is religious for a short period but abandons this to relentlessly pursue Tess. He forces her to live as a wife in exchange for financial support. He is eventually murdered by Tess. Cruel. Selfish. Manipulative. Lustful.
Angel Clark A trainee farmer from a privileged background. Angel is highly educated and kind. He falls in love with Tess and marries her. He behaves in a hypocritical way and leaves Tess after discovering her past. Angel regrets this and helps Tess after her murder of Alec. Tess instructs him to marry her younger sister after Tess’s execution. Intelligent. Hypocritical. Kind. Liberal.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles: analysis

It is told from a third-person omniscient point of view, which means an unnamed narrator tells the tale. The narrator can look deeply into the mind and thoughts of the characters.

The plot of Tess of the D’Urbervilles operates in a way that fits under multiple genres. It is often analysed as a novel of social realism.

Social realism is a literary genre. Realist novels are ones that have realistic plots with plausible characters that contain everyday occurrences. Social realism specifically discusses social issues. For example, in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hardy portrays issues of social inequality. Other well-known novels of social realism include John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (1937) and Hard Times (1854) by Charles Dickens.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles can also fit under the genre of tragic realism in terms of its plot.

Tragic realism is another subgenre of realism. It too has a realistic plot and plausible characters. The tragic element of the genre focuses on the suffering of a character or characters.

In the case of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the character primarily suffering is Tess. Tragedies often show a character suffering because of a fatal flaw they have. Hardy subverts this. Tess suffers not because of her own flaws but the flaws of people around her, particularly her parents, Alec, and Angel.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles: themes

The main themes of Tess of the D’Urbervilles include women and gender equality, justice, fate, morality, and social class.

Women and gender inequality

Hardy portrays the lives of women at this time as very complex and difficult in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Tess’s actions show her to be a very capable and strong woman. She makes an effort to provide for herself and her family, particularly when her father cannot. Tess is also sensible and rational.

Her status as a woman leads her to suffer, however. This is clear in Alec’s horrific mistreatment of her and her body. Alec feels a sense of entitlement towards Tess because he is attracted to her and she is a woman who he sees as inferior. This would have been a common view in the Victorian period. After his religious conversion, Alec believes that Tess tempted him. Another common view in Hardy’s time was that attractive women tempted men and men were not to blame for their actions towards them. This puts Tess in a very difficult position.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles also shows gender inequality in Angel’s treatment of Tess when he discovers her past. His actions are hypocritical. Tess has forgiven him for his past in which he engaged in what their society would see as improper behaviour. However, Angel blames Tess for what was forced upon her. Hardy is exposing a very unequal way of seeing the world.

Hardy also shows that the two men who are romantically interested in Tess have two very different views of her. Alec sees Tess in a very sexual way. He is attracted to her and focuses on her physical beauty. Alec manipulates Tess to get what he wants from her.

Angel treats Tess in a much kinder way but he still has a warped view of her. When he meets her, Angel has an idealised view of Tess. He calls her ‘Artemis’, the name of a Greek goddess because he sees her as perfect. Angel seems to view Tess as the Victorian stereotype of the ‘Angel of the House’.

The Angel of the House stereotype was very common in the Victorian era. It refers to the idea of a woman that is a perfect wife and mother. She is pure, well-behaved, delicate, and performs all of her domestic tasks perfectly. The phrase comes from an 1854 poem of the same name by Coventry Patmore.

What both Alec and Angel have in common is that they both have inaccurate views of Tess as a woman. Neither of them sees her for who she really is. She represents certain things for both of them but neither sees her as human.


Justice is very important in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Tess is often treated cruelly and unfairly throughout Hardy’s novel. Her life is filled with injustice. Tess is the victim of a horrific rape that leaves her pregnant yet her society blames her for this. The man she marries, Angel, blames her for this too. This can be linked to the previous theme of gender inequality. Some of the injustice Tess experiences can be attributed to the fact that she is a woman in a patriarchal society.

There is a further injustice in the fact that Tess must return to Alec for help after her father dies and she cannot support her family. She must obey a man who has treated her so terribly. This in order for her family to have food and shelter. This is another cruel twist of fate.

Unlike her society, Thomas Hardy’s narrator never judges Tess. He is showing her suffering in a cruel world. Hardy shows that Tess is fundamentally a good person. She tries her best to do right in the world. Yet she still faces so much injustice in her life. Tess often struggles with this injustice as she feels as though the world is against her. Hardy is showing the unfair nature of the world here.

Never in her life – she could swear it from the bottom of her soul – had she ever intended to do wrong; yet these hard judgments had come. Whatever her sins, they were not sins of intention, but of inadvertence, and why should she have been punished so persistently? (Chp. 51)

Eventually, Tess murders Alec. This is a very complicated element of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Alec violated Tess and treated her poorly so is this justice for Tess?

However, she has committed murder and is arrested for this so has Tess committed an unjust act? Hardy leaves this quite open for his readers to interpret. He also leaves open the question of the novel’s ending. After all she has suffered, was it truly just for Tess’s life to end so brutally? Or did she have to be punished for taking another’s life?

From your analysis of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, what are your conclusions about how justice operates in the novel?

Tess of the D Urbervilles — Key takeaways

  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles is an 1891 novel by Thomas Hardy.

  • Hardy’s novel follows Tess Durbeyfield as she tries her best to support her family. She is sensible and kind but is mistreated along the way, particularly by men.

  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles fits under the genres of social realism and tragic realism.

  • Two key themes in Tess of the D’Urbervilles are women and gender inequality, and justice.

  • Many of the central characters’ actions in Hardy’s novel negatively impact Tess.

Текст Tess of the d’Urbervilles с переводом.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Тэсс из рода д’Эрбервиллей

… As Tess grew older, and began to see how matters stood, she wished her mother hadn’t thoughtlessly given her so many little sisters and brothers, when it was such a trouble to nurse and provide for them. … Когда Тесс взрослела и начинала понимать, как обстоят дела, она хотела, чтобы мать беспечно не приносила бы ей так много маленьких братьев и сестер, когда заботиться и обеспечивать их было такой проблемой.
Her mother’s way of thinking was that of a happy child: Joan Durbeyfield was simply another in a large family, waiting for help from fate. Образ мыслей ее матери был схож с тем, которым обладает счастливое дитя: Джоан Дэрберфильд в сущности была одним из детей в большой семье, ожидающей помощи от судьбы.
Every day seemed to throw upon her young shoulders more of the family burdens, and that Tess should be the representative of the Durbeyfields at the d’Urberville mansion, was taken for granted. In this case it must be admitted that the Durbeyfields were putting forward their fairest family member. Казалось, каждый день кладет на ее юные плечи еще больше семейной ноши; и то, что именно Тесс должна стать представительницей
Дэрберфильдов в особняке д’Эрбервиллей, было само собой разумеющимся. В этом случае следует заметить, что Дэрберфильды выдвигали самого честного члена своей семьи.
She got off the van at Trantridge Cross, and continued on foot up a hill in the direction of the district known as The Chase, on the borders of which, as she had been informed, Mrs d’Urberville’s estate, The Slopes, would be found. It was not a manor in the ordinary sense, with fields, and pastures, and a grumbling farmer, out of whom the owner had to squeeze an income for himself and his family by hook or by crook. It was more, far more; a country house built for enjoyment pure and simple, with not an acre of troublesome land attached to it beyond what was required for residential purposes, and for a little fancy farm kept by the owner, and tended by a bailiff. The crimson brick lodge came first in sight, up to its eaves in thick evergreen trees. Tess thought this was the mansion itself, till passing through the side gate with some anxiety, and onward to a turn in the drive, the house itself stood in full view. It was built recently – indeed almost new – and of the same rich red colour as the lodge. Far behind the corner of the house, stretched the soft emerald landscape of The Chase – a truly impressive area of forest land, one of the few remaining ancient woodlands in England, where mistletoe was still found on aged oaks, and where enormous yew trees had grown since their branches were cut for bows. All of which, however, though visible from The Slopes, was outside of the estate. Она вышла из повозки на Трентридж Кросс и продолжила путь пешком вверх по холму в направлении участка, известного как “Угодья”, на границах которого, как ее информировали, находилось имение миссис д’Эрбервилль, которое называется “Косогор”. Это не было имением в привычном смысле, с полями и пастбищами и ворчливым фермером, из которого хозяин должен был всеми правдами и неправдами выжимать доход для себя и своей семьи. Это было скорее, гораздо скорее… загородный дом, построенный для радости, чистой и простой, без единого акра пустующей земли, кроме тех участков, которые были нужны непосредственно для жизни и маленькой причудливой фермы, которую содержал хозяин и за которой присматривал управляющий. Первой на глаза попадалась сторожка из темно-красного кирпича, до карнизов которой росли густые вечнозеленые деревья. Тесс думала, что это было само имение, до тех пор пока с некоторым волнением не проследовала через боковые ворота и далее до поворота дорожки, откуда дом предстал во всем своем виде. Он был построен недавно – и на самом деле почти новый – и был того же самого густого красного цвета, что и сторожка. Далеко позади дома простирался мягкий изумрудный ландшафт “Угодий” – поистине впечатляющая лесная территория, один из нескольких оставшихся лесных массивов в Англии, где на вековых дубах можно еще было найти ягоды, и где росли огромные тисовые деревья, чьи ветви срезались для изготовления луков. Однако, все это, хоть и было видно с “Косогора”, находилось за пределами имения.
Everything on this property was bright, thriving, and well kept – acres of greenhouses stretched across the grounds down to the trees. Everything looked like money – like the last coin issued from the Mint. The stables, surrounded by Austrian pine trees and evergreen oaks, and fitted with every modern appliance, were as dignified as a church hall. On the huge lawn stood an ornamental tent, with its door facing her. Все в этом имении было ярким, процветающим и хорошо ухоженным  – парники простирались на многие акры по направлению к лесу. Все было похоже на блестящую монету – самую последнюю, выпущенную монетным двором. Конюшни, окруженные австрийскими соснами и вечнозелеными дубами и оснащенные всеми современным оборудованием, смотрелись с таким же достоинством, как и церковный зал. На огромном газоне стоял расписная палатка, двери которой смотрели на нее.
Simple Tess Durbeyfield stood gazing in apprehension on the edge of the gravel driveway. Her feet had brought her to this point before she had quite realised where she was; and now everything was the opposite of what she had expected. Простушка Тесс Дэрберфильд стояла, с опасением уставившись на край дорожки, посыпанной гравием. Ее ноги сами несли ее сюда, пока она окончательно не поняла, где она находится; и сейчас все было противоположным тому, что она ожидала.
“I thought we were an old family; but this is all new!”, she said, in her innocence. She wished that she had not fallen in so readily with her mother’s plans for “claiming kin,” and had tried to find assistance nearer home. “Я думала, что мы были старомодной семьей, но все здесь новое!” – невинно произнесла она. Жаль, что она так легко согласилась с планами своей матери “набиться в родственники” и не попыталась найти поддержку ближе к дому.
The d’Urbervilles – or Stoke-d’Urbervilles, as they at first called themselves – who owned all this, were a somewhat unusual family to find in such an old-fashioned part of the country. Parson Tringham had spoken truly when he said that Tess’s father, John Durbeyfield, was the only real descendant of the old d’Urberville family existing in the county, or near it. He might have added, what he knew very well, that the Stoke-d’Urbervilles were no more d’Urbervilles than he was himself. Yet it must be admitted that this family had a good basis upon which to attach a name which sadly needed restoring to a good position. Д’Эрбервилли, или Стоук-д’Эрбервилли (как они сначала называли себя), которые владели всем этим были в некотором смысле необычной семьей, которую можно было найти в такой староможной части страны. Парсон Тринхэм был прав, когда говорил, что отец Тесс, Джон Дэрберфильд, был единственным настоящим потомком старой семьи д’Эрбервиллей в этой стране и в ее окрестностях. И он мог еще добавить, что он знал очень хорошо, что Стоук-д’Эрбервилли были д’Эрбервиллями не более, чем он сам. Все же, следует допустить, что эта семья имела хорошую основу, к которой стоило прибавить имя, которое требовало непременного восстановления.

Источник: Spotlight, 11 класс

The impoverished peddler John Durbeyfield is shocked to discover that he is the direct descendant of nobility – the D’Urberville family. Meanwhile, his older daughter, Tess, dances in the May Day dance alongside the other girls in the village. It is here where she first exchanges looks with a young man.

Her parents make the decision to send their daughter to the D’Urberville mansion, where they hope that the lady of the house will shower their daughter in riches. In reality, Mrs. D’Urberville is of no relation to Tess at all. He husband, Simon Stoke, changed his name to D’Urberville after his retirement.

Tess is unaware of this, and when the lascivious Alec D’Urberville offers Tess as job tending to the birds on the D’Urberville homestead, Tess feels obligated to accept. She feels guilt for an accident involving the family horse and their loss of income.

Tess goes on to spend several months working at the estate, growing to resent Alec for his continued attempts to seduce her. Eventually, Alec takes advantage of Tess in the woods one evening after a fair. Tess knows that she is not in love with Alec, so she returns to her family.

Soon, she gives birth to Alec’s child, who is named Sorrow. Sorrow passes away not long after birth, and Tess spends the next year at home before deciding to seek work elsewhere. She eventually accepts a job as a milkmaid at the Talbothays Dairy.

While there, she enjoys a time of contentment and is truly happy. She makes friends with three other milkmaids: Izzy, Retty and Marian. She eventually meets a man named Angel Clare, who she soon discovers was the man at the May Day Dance. Tess falls in love with Angel. They grow closer during her time at Talbothays, and eventually become engaged.

Still, she is haunted by her past and struggles with whether or not she should tell Angel. Wanting to clear her mind, she writes him a letter and slips it under his door. But, the note slides under the carpet and Angel never receives it.

Tess begins to struggle more. She is unable to find decent work and soon has to accept a job at a dishevelled farm. She attempts to visit Angel’s family, but overhears them talking about Angel’s ‘poor marriage’ and leaves. She hears a wandering street preacher and is shocked to discover that it is, in fact, Alec D’Urberville, who has found Christianity with the help of Angel’s father, the Rev. Clare. Alec and Tess are each taken aback by this encounter and Alec pleads with Tess to never tempt him again. Not long after, he begs Tess to marry him, having turned his back on his faith.

Tess’s sister, Liza-Lu, comes to tell her that their mother is on her death bed and this forces Tess to return home in order to care for the dying woman. Her mother recovers, but when her father dies unexpectedly, the family ends up being evicted from their home. Alec offers to help, but Tess refuses. She knows that in taking his help, she would be obligated to him.

Eventually, Angel decides to forgive his wife. He leaves for Brazil to find her. Instead, he finds her mother, who informs him that Tess has left for a village called Sandbourne. When he arrives, he finds Tess in a boarding house known as The Herons.

He begs his wife to take him back, but soon finds that he is too late. Tess had returned to Alec d’Urverville. Angel leaves, heartbroken to the point of insanity. Tess goes upstairs and stabs Alec to death. When the landlady finds Alec, she reports the death to the authorities, but Tess has already left to find Angel.

Angel promises to help Tess, however, he struggles to believe that she had actually killed Alec. The pair hide out in an empty mansion for the next few days, and then continue their travels. When they arrive in Stonehenge, Tess falls asleep, however, they are discovered the next morning by a search party. Tess is apprehended and sent to prison. Angel and Liza-Lu look on as a black flag is raised over the jail, alerting all to the execution of Tess.

Tess Durbeyfield lives in the rural village of Marlott in southwest England. She first appears performing the May-Day dance, where she exchanges a meaningful glance with a young man named Angel Clare. Tess’s family is very poor, but her father learns that he is descended from the d’Urbervilles, one of the oldest, noblest families in England. Although the d’Urbervilles have no wealth or power anymore, the Durbeyfields feel that this will improve their fortunes. When Tess mistakenly causes the death of Prince, the family’s horse, she feels guilty enough to try and “claim kin” from some wealthy d’Urbervilles nearby, unaware that they aren’t actually related.

Alec, the libertine son of old, blind, Mrs. d’Urberville, becomes infatuated with Tess and repeatedly tries to seduce her, but she rebuffs his advances. He gives her a job tending the fowls, and Tess feels that she can’t refuse for her family’s sake. One night after a dance in the local town Alec tricks Tess into accepting a ride home with him. He gets lost in the woods and leaves to find the path. When he returns he finds Tess asleep, and he rapes her.

Tess then returns to Marlott, and later gives birth to Alec’s child. She avoids the other townspeople out of shame. Her baby soon gets sick, and Tess worries about his soul. She baptizes him herself, and names him Sorrow before he dies.

After a while Tess gets worn down by her community’s judgment and decides to look for work elsewhere. She becomes a milkmaid at Talbothays dairy farm, and enjoys a time of contentment. She befriends three other girls, Izz, Retty, and Marian, and discovers that the man from the May-Day dance, Angel Clare, is also working there. He is the son of a parson, but is at Talbothays to learn about farming methods. All four women soon fall in love with him, but he chooses Tess and they begin a period of courtship. Angel asks her to marry him, but Tess refuses, feeling that she is not worthy of marriage. She is afraid to tell him the details of her past.

Angel returns home briefly and finds that his brothers, who are becoming parsons or deans, have grown more narrow-minded and disapproving. Strengthened in his convictions, he goes back and renews his proposal to Tess. She finally accepts, but is in constant turmoil. On their wedding night Angel admits that he had an affair with a woman in London, so Tess feels able to tell the truth about Alec. Angel is shocked and unforgiving, and he becomes distraught thinking of what his family and society would say if they found out. He gives Tess some money and leaves to clear his mind. He decides to seek his fortunes in Brazil, and asks Tess to not follow him.

Tess’s money soon runs out and she feels ever more guilty and depressed. She works at a bleak starveacre farm with Marian, who has started drinking since Angel rejected her. Tess randomly meets Alec d’Urberville again, but now he has become an evangelical preacher, converted by Angel’s father. When he sees Tess he becomes enamored once more, and quickly gives up Christianity to try and seduce her. Tess goes home to care for her mother, but soon afterward her father dies. The family is then evicted, and Alec offers to help them if Tess will return to him.

Meanwhile Angel, who has grown sick in Brazil, decides to come home and forgive Tess. When he finally finds her she is in a fancy boardinghouse, and she says it is too late for her, she has relented to Alec. Angel leaves, stricken, and Tess argues with Alec, ultimately stabbing him to death. Tess and Angel then escape together, with Angel unsure if Tess actually committed murder.

They hide in an empty mansion and have a few happy days, but then move on. One night they stop at Stonehenge, and Tess falls asleep on a monolith. At dawn the police arrest her. Later Angel and Tess’s sister, Liza-Lu, hold hands and watch the black flag, the sign that Tess has been executed.

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