Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Tess of the d'Urbervilles Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On his way home from haggling, a peddler named John Durbeyfield meets Parson Tringham, who surprises Durbeyfield by addressing him as “Sir John.” The parson then reveals his recent discovery that the Durbeyfields are descended from the ancient, knightly d'Urberville family, which has since fallen from prominence and gone extinct. Durbeyfield is flattered and amazed by this information. After the parson leaves, Durbeyfield boasts to a boy from town about his lineage and sends for a carriage to take him the rest of the way home.
This offhand revelation about the d'Urberville name is the impetus for the rest of action of the book. Durbeyfield's excitement and feeling of entitlement over a name with no real wealth or power behind it begins Hardy's satire of English Victorian society, starting with the emphasis on ancient names, but also commenting on how the mighty have fallen in modern times.
Themes
Social Criticism Theme Icon