Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Practice Plan


Choose a novel in which an incident reveals a flaw in a central character.

Explain how the incident reveals this flaw and go on to discuss the importance of the flaw in your understanding of the character.


        Focus on Tess

        Fault is acquiescence

        Developed through whole novel

        Key to her character

Para 1:

        Acquiescence on the Chase

        “teardrops on her eyelashes”

        Resistance to Alec?

        Trigger for subsequent tragedy.

        “where was the providence of her simple faith”

        These instances are evidence that Tess allows forces outside herself to take responsibility for her life and safety, and this idea has previously been indicated in the episode where she must take the hives to market.

Para 2:

        Acquiescence with the hives

        “I wouldn’t have it for the world!”

        Tess defending the family name?

        “But somebody must go!”

        Pressure in “must”

Para 3:

        While Tess’s acquiescence is subtle and slight in the incident with the hives, it is far more prominent, and dangerous, when Alec first tries to seduce her at Trantridge.

         “He insisted…”

        Clear sexual advance; little resistance.


        Again, accepting the advance?

        Foreshadowing – possible acceptance.

Para 4:

        Acquiescence when she and Angel separate.

        “Unless you order me to…”

        Allows Angel to dictate the terms of the separation.

        “I will obey…”

        She sacrifices all control in the situation.

Para 5:

        Acquiescence at Stone Henge

        “I am ready”

        Decisive – her own choice.

        “What must come will come”

        Ambiguous – two different readings


        Summarise how acquiescence is a flaw in Tess

        How does it change by the end?

        How does it make a reader feel about her?

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