Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Planning

Notes from class:


Choose a novel or short story in which there is a character who experiences rejection or isolation.

With reference to appropriate techniques, explain the rejection or isolation, and discuss how this aspect adds to your appreciation of the text as a whole.

5 point introduction

Section 1.

Tess experiences rejection by Angel Clare.

  • “You were one woman, you are now another.”

This was predictable when considering the theme symbolism in the novel.

When Tess first sees Angel, he rejects her without being conscious of the rejection.

  • “She wore a red ribbon in her hair”
  • “the pouted-up deep red mouth”

This is a symbolic foreshadowing.

Section 2.

The reader is already on alert as Tess has been associated (marked?) symbolically with the colour red. This symbolism indicates that Tess, for some characters, is associated with sin.

This is confirmed when Alec rapes her.

  • “this beautiful feminine tissue… blank as snow”

By the time she meets Angel, Hardy has shown her more as more animal than Christian; she is a child of nature.

  • “stealthily as a cat”
  • “a fascinated bird”

Section 3.

Angel rejects Tess on middle class moral grounds.

  • “Different societies, different manners. You are an unapprehending peasant woman.”
  • “He looked upon her as a species of imposter”
  • “Demeter”, “Artemis”

Section 4.

His father is an evangelical Christian, and his brothers are ministers. His mother is highly Christian, and he is expected to marry Mercy Chant, a devout young woman.

This is a family which would not accept Tess’s sin.

  • “Is she a woman whose past will bear investigation?”
  • “She is spotless!”

However, Angel claims to reject this morality, and to believe in nature above all else.

  • “What a genuine daughter of Nature that milkmaid is”


Tess’s rejection exposes Angel’s hypocrisy

However, it was clearly foreshadowed…

…by symbolism and Angel’s family

This close connection with the colour red indicates Tess’s connection to sin in her past, but also the blood and murder which later follow this rejection.