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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

By Thomas Hardy (2)

The novel of a girl ruined and stigmatized is perhaps Thomas Hardy’s finest work. In Tess of the d’Urbervilles, young country girl Tess Durbeyfield begins her journey to ruin when her irresponsible father discovers a connection between his family and the aristocratic d’Urbervilles. The lovely Tess is sent off to make something of this kinship, and is soon taken advantage of by the crass Alec d’Urberville. As she must suffer the consequences of this liaison, Tess leaves home again, and finds work as a dairymaid on a local farm. Angel Clare, a youth of a good family, falls in love with Tess, but she at first refuses him due to her guilty secret. When all is revealed, Angel leaves his distraught bride, who then must take work as a field laborer, and her plight draws her back to Alec. Upon Angel’s return, Tess murders her seducer. Following a few days of bliss on the run, Tess is apprehended and hanged, and her final wish is fulfilled when Angel marries her younger sister. A love story and a social critique, Tess of the d’Urbervilles rightfully remains one of the best works from the Victorian era.

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