Tess of the D'Urbervilles

A Victorian Novel in a Week

Unit Plans

Dividing the Novel

AP assignment calendar for this unit

Links to related resources:


E Text

The Illustrations for Serialised Version of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles

The Victorian Web: About Thomas Hardy

"Tess of the Derbyfield -- Good Woman or Noble Dame?" by Andrew Mangravite, an essay on the novel

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Thomas Hardy, first published serially in bowdlerized form in the Graphic (July-December 1891) and in its entirety in book form (three volumes) the same year. It was subtitled A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented because Hardy felt that its heroine was a virtuous victim of a rigid Victorian moral code. Now considered Hardy's masterwork, it departed from conventional Victorian fiction in its focus on the rural lower class and in its open treatment of sexuality and religion. After her impoverished family learns of its noble lineage, naive Tess Durbeyfield is sent to make an appeal to a nearby wealthy family who bear the ancestral name d'Urberville. Tess is seduced by dissolute Alec d'Urberville and secretly bears a child, Sorrow, who dies in infancy. Later working as a dairymaid she meets and marries Angel Clare, an idealistic gentleman who rejects Tess after learning of her past on their wedding night. Emotionally bereft and financially impoverished, Tess is trapped by necessity into giving in once again to d'Urberville, but she murders him when Angel returns. After a few days with Angel, Tess is arrested and executed. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Unit Plans
  • Each student will get a part of the novel to read.
  • After reading, each student will create the following to help us put the novel together. 1) a brief summary of the section read 2) a list questions you have, representing holes or unknowns 3) a bit about each character in the section 4) notes about theme, plot, or other literary elements that you feel are significant and should be pointed out (for example, if an event seems like it will have significance later on, you can emphasize that). Type this to fit on one side of a sheet of paper. Be sure to label the top of the page with the page numbers you read and the chapters you read. As much as possible, give your information in list form instead of paragraph form. You can use bulleted lists. Hand in prior to the day when we put the puzzle together.
  • When we come together, we will create an understanding of the plot as a whole and look at Tess's development. When we begin piecing the book together, each consecutive presentation will make more sense.
  • We can talk about the following themes: self-determination, power and sexual roles, choices, or anything else that we become interested in. Our discussion should relate to the text as much as possible, but we can also extend our discussion beyond the text.
  • This page also has links that may be of interest.


Section Pages Chapters Student Assigned
1 1-19 1-3  
2 19-39 4-5
3 39-59 6-9
4 59-82 10-12
5 82-100 13-15
6 101-121 16-18
7 121-141 19-22
8 141-162 23-25
9 162-185 26-29
10 185-201 30-31
11 201-227 32-34
12 228-247 35-36
13 247-267 37-39
14 267-287 40-42
15 287-307 43-44
16 308-328 45-46
17 328-350 47-49
18 350-372 50-52
19 373-390 53-56
20 390-405 57-59

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