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Points to Ponder

Tess is a powerful believer of Fate. What are some of the things she feels Fate has planned for her? Does Tess have a philosophy of life? (Consider her conversation with Abraham about lucky and unlucky worlds.) Is Tess a victim of her fate, or is she is control of her destiny? What are some examples of how Tess seizes control of the events in her life? (her various jobs to support herself and her family, her role as maternal figure in her household, her refusal and acceptance of several marriage proposals, her murder of Alec d'Urberville)

Most of the unfortunate incidents in the novel are presaged by ill-omens as if Hardy was giving clues about the outcome of the story. Try to find these precursors and link them to their fateful incidents. Consider some of the eerie feelings Joan Durbeyfield has about Alec d'Urberville, how the crow calls out at the wrong time after Tess and Angel's wedding, how Tess has a sinking feeling that Alec will be her husband. Do the omens work to warn the characters? Do they work as a literary device to build suspense and foreshadow the plot?

Is Tess a pure woman, as Hardy describes in the novel's subtitle? How do both Angel (for deserting and scorning her) and Alec (for raping her, for deceiving her about Angel) injure Tess? Who is to blame for Tess' downfall? (her family for placing their burdens on her, Alec, the townspeople for their endless gossip about her misfortune, Angel, the Clares) How much is Tess to blame? Should she have acted differently towards Alec or Angel? If you were Tess, what would you have done?

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7, 8, and 9
Chapters 10 and 11
Chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
Chapters 19, 20, and 21
Chapters 22, 23, and 24
Chapters 25, 26, and 27
Chapters 28, 29, and 30
Chapters 31 and 32
Chapters 33 and 34
Chapters 35, 36, and 37
Chapters 38, 39, and 40
Chapters 41, 42, 43, and 44
Chapters 45, 46, 47, and 48
Chapters 49, 50, 51, and 52
Chapters 53, 54, and 55
Chapters 56, 57, 58, and 59


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