Tess of the D'Urbervilles contains elements of many different genres, but it is mostly a work of Realism. Victorian literature tends to focus on portraying life realistically and is less concerned with the mythical or fantastical aspects of storytelling. Readers in the 1890s might have known someone like Tess themselves or perhaps even have shared life circumstances and similarities with any of the other characters in the novel. By choosing to write about characters and circumstances that contemporary readers could directly relate to, Hardy's intentions become all the more achievable: through the vessel of Realism, Hardy is able to offer a scathing critique of Victorian sexual morality through the character of Tess and her tragic experiences.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles contains elements of other genres as well, including gothic literature. The novel is singularly focused on nature as an entity unto itself. At times, nature is a god-like figure or character in the story. Tess of the D'Urbervilles shares this attribute in common with many gothic novels, which are notorious for their extended personifications of nature. What's more, the novel also contains elements of pastoral literature. Set in the countryside, it glorifies the simple, unpretentious life of rural people in direct contrast to arrogant industrialists who live in cities and are out of touch with nature.