Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Topic Sentence Revision

Notes from class:

Choose a novel or short story which deals with true love, unrequited love or love betrayed.

Discuss the writer’s exploration of the theme and show to what extent it conveys a powerful message about the nature of love.

  • The love affair between Tess and Angel is nearly begun at the start of the novel, when Angel sees, but does not dance with, Tess.
  • At Talbothays dairy farm, this romance finally is kindled, but Tess feels uncomfortable because she feels so inferior to Angel.
  • The betrayal of love occurs on the evening of Tess and Angel’s wedding.
  • Angel returns to Tess at the beginning of the novel’s final act, and briefly the couple again share the love they felt when they were courting.

Choose a novel or short story with a central character you consider to be heroic. Show how the heroic qualities are revealed and discuss how this portrayal of the character enhances your understanding of the text as a whole.

  • Tess Durbeyfield displays notable heroism by taking responsibility for the financial well-being of her family, despite being only a teenage girl in a society which gave women very little status.
  • It is remarkable that Tess manages to overcome her life’s early sorrows in order to achieve happiness at Talbothays.
  • Fundamentally, Tess is heroic because she is a survivor – the terrible actions of the men around her put her in increasingly difficult situations, but she endures them.
  • Tess’s greatest moment of heroism comes at Stone Henge, the novel’s climax, where she has discovered enough strength of independence to accept her arrest and death penalty.

Choose a novel in which the setting in time and/or place is a significant feature. Show how the writer’s use of setting contributes to your understanding of character and theme.

  • The first setting Hardy creates is the village of Marlott where Tess grew up.
  • Tess is raped in an area of wood, called “The Chase”, and its dark and mysterious description is key to this particular scene.
  • Following Angel’s departure, Tess undergoes a period of bleak and unforgiving work at Flintcombe Ash.
  • An ancient pagan temple, Stone Henge, is an appropriate final setting for Tess.