Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Better Introductions

Notes from today’s lunchtime group.


Sample question – How far a character changes over the course of a novel.


A good introduction

Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a novel written by Thomas Hardy in 1891. The plot of the drama addresses the fortunes of a young peasant girl in Hardy’s fictional Wessex, who through a range of circumstances beyond her control, is driven to murder and, ultimately, death. This essay will show how Tess changes from a passive character in the novel’s early stages, to one who assumes control of her life by the end, thus showing that she changes.

Address the question more subtly

The change of the character from X to Y becomes unmistakable as the novel progresses.

-Ed and -Ing words to begin sentences

Criticised when first released in 1891…

Focusing on the difficulty of a woman taking control of her own life…

A better introduction

The changing nature of the heroine is central to Thomas Hardy’s novel, “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” (1891). From acquiescent, docile and passive milkmaid in the opening chapters, forced into seeking wealth from a predatory Alec Durberville, to a woman able to assert herself and take revenge for his treatment of her, Tess’s journey reveals her to be a complex and dynamic character. Hardy presents this in a subtle and natural way,a s this essay will explore.


  • You still need to include the five elements, but try to be imaginative in how you incorporate them.
  • Avoid beginning sentences in obvious ways.
  • Weave the issue of the essay into the gist of the plot.
  • If you have a good quotation from another writer to head your essay, all the better (as long as it is relevant!).